Making of a Champion : Of course it is a lot more complicated than I can explain in this short peace, but maybe soon if I get a book out, I can explain everything in more detail. Let’s get to the basics here. Make sure, and I say make sure that you do not listen to all these coaches who want your kid to hit a lot of topspin, and I mean a lot. Don’t send your kid to an Academy, unless you want more match play and even in most Academies it is a waste of time and money, lots of money. Lot of Academies will charge you about $100,000 a year. If you hope to get your kid a scholarship by sending him or her to an Academy, save your money and pay for the education. Besides that, if your kid is talented and just wants to go to college a very good local pro can do it, and you have $300,000 to $400,000 left in the bank. BUT more important, make sure that if you want your kid to become a great pro, HAVE THEM HIT THE BALL HARD FROM DAY ONE. And I am not talking about FLAT all the time. Most balls should have some topspin on the ball, but hit hard with some spin. The two handed backhands are usually flatter. Girls should definitely hit the ball flatter than boys, because of the strength. Make the kids hit the ball HARDER and LOWER over the net. If your kid is talented and has GREAT timing, they are able to do it. If they can’t they probably never will. But I am interested in making Champions and not College players. I developed at least 20 players in the top 50 in the world. 9 players in the top 10, 4 no 1’s and about 27 Grand Slams not including about 8 Grand Slams in doubles, and had 100’s of kids with College Scholarships to Major college’s, so I do develop lots of College players !!! Most coaches in this country, including the USTA, and Academies believes in this high topspin nonsense. And they wonder why we don’t have any great players any more. If I was in the business of pleasing parents or ran an Academy to make the kids more consistent by hitting the ball higher, like 5 to 6 feet with lots of topspin I might do the same, but I wont. Parents will be pleased, because the kid is more consistent, instead of teaching consistency with DISCIPLINE. It’s like pushing kids through school, instead of making it hard with DISCIPLINE. Almost all the top female players hit the ball extremely hard. Very hard, almost all of them. So why would you teach the kids this HIGH over the net with lots of TOPSPIN. The females might have some topspin, but not extreme. Maria won the French twice, NOT because she is a clay court player, far from it. But she hits the daylights out of the ball and is consistent, since she has been doing it since 10 years old, without lots of topspin, DAH. Clay gives her a little more time to be able to set up. The men hit more spin, BUT still hit the hell out of the ball. It takes a machine to determine the amount of spin on the ball that Federer hits. SOOOO … have your kids hit the ball HARD from day one. Get rid of this high topspin. My way you could have a harder time in the 12’s . BUT if your kid is talented, he or she will win the 12 ‘s and has a chance to become NO 1 in the world. There are some crazy coaches who put a rope 6 feet ABOVE the net to teach the kid to hit high over the net. Take the kid somewhere else, if you want a Champion. Hey Jose how come Spain has no great females. The one newcomer, forgot her name, Muguzuma maybe, hits the ball very hard and fairly flat. Why not teach that to American kids. This Country won’t have any no 1’s unless you make a change. Do away with this Miniature tennis. A waste, just a money maker for some people, BUT won’t make Champions and start hitting the ball real hard and consistent. Teach DISCIPLINE. – Robert
A while back I talked briefly about players and their new coaches. Lets start with Djoko and Boris boom boom Becker. Lost every time with Becker on his side. He has to get rid of Becker, but may a difficult thing to do. Like I said Becker grew up on the red clay, but never won any kind of clay court tournament. But lets give him past Wimbledon. Maybe Djoko will serve and volley and chip and charge. What do you think Boris. NO ??? Lets go to Paul Annacone and Sloan Stevens. When is he working with Sloan? He is ALWAYS doing T V. Good luck Sloan. Paul should stick with T V. He is pretty good at that and not much happening with Sloan. Lets go to Maria and Sven Groeneveld. Lets wait for the faster courts. It looks like Maria is serving better. Not pulling her head down too fast, but keeping her nose up in the air more. She should be good at that. Little stuck up. Want to see what she will do on the faster courts having the ball hit hard into her body to the forehand down the middle of the court. But he has done better than the other ones so far. Who else do we have ?? Oh of course Edberg and Federer. Who in the hell knows what is going on there. Hope you don’t become the Nanny, Stefan. Edberg should go home and take care of his yard, wife and kids in that order if he has all of them. If not Stefan, get them. You are still good looking. Don’t know what happened with Chang and Nishikori. Maybe Chang tried to get Nishikori legs like tree trunks like Chang had, Nishikori is more frail. Not the same Michael. But don’t really know what happened. OH and then Bruegera and Gasquet? No change, like I said would happen. So far I give myself an A plus. Go ahead and argue with me if you want. – Robert
I think that playing matches and Tournaments is very important. Maria however did not play a lot of junior tournaments. Some parents will send their kids all over the place to play tournaments. Be very careful, because kids don’t improve their technique when playing tournaments, besides stopping their getting stronger and quicker, their Physical fitness in other words. Yes they improve mentally but the technique will go down fast. After all when you play matches you don’t worry how you hit the ball. I was the first coach to travel on the tour with a player. I was the only one, traveling with Tracy Austin when she was 13. She would come home after a good two weeks and she was mentally fine. She was always mentally fine , but her technique got worse. So I started traveling with her to keep her fine tuned, and it worked. Quarter finals of U S Open at 14 and winning U S Open at 16. When you send kids, say 13, 14, 15, to Europe for a month you are asking for trouble, especially if you do this often. See that’s why the Europeans have the advantage. Short distance to all countries and all countries have I T F tournaments. Lots of them. The U S is lacking behind. When they play tournaments you child has to beat the kids they are supposed to beat and beat kids they have no business beating. The have to win 3 setters, NOT always lose 3 setters. Not mentally tough enough. Lets face it, when your girl is 15 or 16, she better do well in the junior grand slams, or you will have a difficult future in the pros. – Robert
Maria, the greatest clay court player right now. In the women it has shown that you don’t have to grow up on the red clay to become a world Champion. Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams are the best clay court players and NEITHER of them grew up on the red clay. Serena grew up in So Cal not far from where I have been teaching on HARD COURTS, and Maria grew up with me for almost 9 years, being taught on HARD COURTS. I keep saying that it is the mentality that you have to have. Maria won the French now twice, not because she is a great clay court player, but because she has the game to win the French. The red clay actually helps Maria now, because it is slower and it gives her more time to get in position. Besides that she hits the daylights out of the ball, learned on the hard courts with me day in day out. Both Maria and Serena hit the ball fairly flat and don’t have a lot of topspin on the ball, because they were never told to hit an Academy ball. To hit the ball like Maria and Serena you have to be willing to hit the ball hard as a youngster. Ten years and older, if not younger. You have to have great discipline and be mentally very tough. Not many women players hit with a lot of topspin. Halep does not, Bouchard does not, Muguzuma does not and she is from Spain. So be aware if your kids coach teaches your kid too much topspin, unless you want to become a college player. BUT THAT IS IT. So don’t send your girls to Spain or clay court camps. Teach them consistency, discipline and driving the balls hard. Hard and 2 to 3 feet over the net. Maria is and always was some tough cookie. It takes about 8 to 10 years to develop a Champion and it takes more than just hitting a ball. It also takes a LOVE for the game, but that is on any service. Next time I will talk about the boys, it is a little different but not that much. Still don’t send them to Spain. – Robert
I heard in Indian Wells that Patrick Mc Enroe only got an extention on his contract till the end of 2014, and he can try to extend it. If somebody knows the real scoop on this, please let me know, because we can go to work and have him change his attitude and get America back on track.
You see, he and his buddies don’t understand that kids development starts at six, seven , eight years old. With his Miniature tennis, he is going to lose a lot of gifted tennis players and minds. I am talking about the little ones. You are also going to lose them to Soccer, Baseball and many other sports, because they are far better organized than tournaments run by the U S T A.
Tournament directors just try to make money. Forget about running great tournaments. U S T A is not doing anything about it and not helping the tournament directors. And what is this making National tournaments a 32 draw. Make them bigger, let many people play. So what if the top seeds win easily, SO WHAT. Give as many as you can the experience. Maybe the US Open should make the draw smaller, like 64. I see the top players win first round matches very, very easy.
There are hundreds and hundreds of little ones with great attitudes and talent in this country. I am talking about 6, 7 and up kids. Find them and see how you can help the coaches to keep developing these future Champions. And not wait till they are 15 or 16.
Higueras is a great guy BUT he is not a developer. He is known for polishing players when they are already developed. He is great at that and he should be hired for that, not a junior Developer.
Also, change the way Junior Tennis tournaments are run. It is a sham now. There is NO SUPERVISION at all. Kids cheat, parents get involved and nobody does anything about it. Make the tournaments a fun experience for the kids, have them compete SUPERVISED !! Get the U S T A involved in a very positive way. They are probably losing a lot of little ones, because the tournaments are a BAD experience. TOO MUCH CHEATING ALLOWED, especially in the younger ages, and bad behavior is allowed. Have one Umpire for every TWO courts, and if it is a single separate court it should have a qualified and I mean qualified Umpire. When they are not competing SUPERVISED, make it a friendly enjoyable experience for the juniors as well as the parents. New people entering the junior tennis tournament scene are disgusted. AND IT IS ALL THE FAULT OF THE U S T A. Tennis in the US needs a complete overhaul, and not with Miniature tennis.
The ITF should be very concerned about the STRINGS the pro’s play with. Didn’t this guy Fishback have a different string job in the early 80’s I think and he was banned because of the strings he was using were creating too much spin? So what about Nadal and Federer. How come they can? -Robert
I just read an letter from Wayne Bryan to Klein, Mc Enroe and Haggerty in response to an invitation he got from them, to come to a U S T A PD meeting in La Costa on March 12. He was sorry, he could not make it, because of prior commitments. Wayne mentions in his letter that Patrick Mc Enroe does not think the coaches in the U.S. are great and he has hired coaches from Spain. Is Mc Enroe serious or is he going over the deep end. What is wrong with this idiot. Now he can blame the Spaniards, when his program fails completely. There are many coaches in California and all over the U S who can do a better job than these Spanish coaches. All they know is Top Spin and more Top spin. It is really sad how Mc Enroe has gotten the power to do just whatever he wants to do. How is that possible. Who is his boss? How come people don’t speak out against this ugly, and insane behavior. He has had a Spaniard in charge of developing top juniors for 5 years now and NO results. Yes Higueras has not developed one player. Maybe Jose needed some buddy’s from Spain. All I know is something is really wrong here. – Robert
Boy oh Boy. Patrick Mc Enroe you are doing such a great job. So many great players coming up. You have had this job for over 5 years now and the future is sad, real sad. You had the best kids in the U.S. from the ages of 12 and 13 and look what you and your right man Higuera’s have done. You made the future even worse. You two are like weather men. You can be wrong 70 percent of the time and never lose your job. Incredible, they extended your contract, what, for another 5 years. – Robert
Well, about three months have gone by, and lets see how these NEW coaching jobs are doing. I know it is still a little early and they all have to be given more time. For what I don’t know. Let’s first take Annacone and Sloan Stevens. What the heck happened there ??? I see Annacone with his glasses, looking like a professor on the Tennis Channel all the time. Don’t think he is coaching Stevens, but don’t know. What another Connor’s – Sharapova debacle ? Groeneveld and Maria. Let’s see what happens in the next few months. So far NOTHING. No change in her serving or backhand. Her backhand used to be the best shot on the tour, now it is mediocre. Looking for good improvements Sven. Or you could be history. Djoko and Becker. They showed so much of the “funny” man Becker on T V it became annoying. Never heard what he helped Djoko with, except he was so funny. Never knew Becker was so funny. Not a good result. Probably won’t last that long. Federer and Edberg???? Who knows what the hell is going on there. Federer is a class act and so is Edberg, but sometimes two class acts together will fail. Don’t see what Edberg can bring to the camp except lot’s of class. Stefan, keep him in the top ten or tell him to retire. Chang and Nishikori? Let me look in my crystal ball. Sorry can’t help you. Don’t see much difference yet, but that could be me. Same as Bruguera and Gasquet. Like to see more fight in Gasquet, but he is no Nadal, so good luck. So lets see what happens at the French. Some changes we will see for sure. Let’s call uncle Toni, fella’s and see if he is available. Don’t think so. – Robert
I read this article on Paul Fein’s Tennis quotes.com and was a little taken back, to say the least. It was an article by a Mr. Sam Duvall, talking about his client Eugenie Bouchard. I agree Genie as he called her is a very attractive and cute girl and a pretty darn good tennis player. Eugenie should get rid of this agent as soon as she can. She does not need somebody like this in her camp. Silly if not stupid what Sam Duvall said. Comparing her to Maria Sharapova is dumb enough, but then to say that Genie will raise the bar?? What bar is he talking about? Lucky Lucies, with happy hour between 5 and 6. Mr. Duvall, maybe you forgot, Maria won Wimbledon, just a few months after turning SEVENTEEN. Genie Bouchard won JUNIOR Wimbledon at age 18. Maria got to the finals of Junior Wimbledon at age 14. Maria was No. 1 in the world at 18. And at 19 years of age she had TWO grand slams. Bouchard ranking is 19 in the world at the age of 20. I hope for Genies sake that she becomes no 1 in the world and wins grand slams. You, Mr. Duvall probably wont be around. Are you trying to fool the public with your dumb comments , or do you think companies are stupid enough to believe you. You just put so much unnecessary pressure on Genie with your comments. Genie get rid of SAM no SLAM. – Robert
What gives me the right to criticize the traveling coaches on the tour ?? Very simple. I was the first coach, who travelled with a player on the tour, who was NOT a family member on the WOMENS tour. Bergelin was traveling with Borg. Yes I was the first BABY sitter. I started traveling with Tracy Austin in the mid 70’s. Why?? I found that when Tracy would come back after like two weeks, that she was mentally better, but that her strokes had deteriorated technically. So I decided to start traveling with her to keep her fine tuned. Her Mother Jeanie had been traveling with Tracy and did a great job, and continued to travel. So again I was the FIRST glorified BABY sitter on the tour. I did it, I experienced it, I know you are there to give them a banana, have their rackets strung, get practice courts, find practice partners if you are not good enough to play, I was. Find out what time their matches are, and find out about their opponents, tell them what to do, to find out that they just do what they want to do, anyway. Oh, and then you sit in the box to give them support. B.S. Just gives them a reason to bitch and blame it on some one else. Have some fat blow up dolls, male or female, not always good looking, unless it was Safin’s box. Always great looking DOLLS. So, I did set the trent, about 40 years ago, so I know. – Robert