Junior Coaching & Development

What Can We Learn From the Pros?

Going back to my last post on active viewing, I wanted to expand and talk a bit about what we – and our kids – can learn from watching the pros in action.

I have been spending a lot (understatement!) of time watching the Aussie Open this week.  I’ve seen some good stuff and some not-so-good stuff, all of which has taught me lessons that I can share with my son.

Did you see Marcos Baghdatis play Stan Wawrinka?  Did you see Marcos have a meltdown then start destroying his racquets on the changeover?  I’m okay with a player venting frustration – tennis is a very frustrating game, after all.  However, the fact that Marcos was only fined $800 (or $750 depending on which source you believe) for annihilating four perfectly good racquets is inexcusable to me.  What lesson does that teach our rising junior players?  That it’s okay to abuse expensive equipment?  That your anger and frustration warrant throwing money down the drain?  Interesting to read some of the comments by junior players on Facebook:

  • haha he got an $800 fine for it… thats just pocket change to them so it was completely worth it lol
  • Only $800?! That’s how much all four of those rackets cost…
  • yeah seriously…. Serena’s blowup at the uso was $2000 haha
  •  It’s completely pointless, what would REALLY get to them is a code violation. Junior refs seem to love to give those out.

While I was secretly entertained <shhhh!> by Baghdatis’ antics, I would NEVER tolerate that kind of blatant disregard for property from my son.  That said, my son has been known to smash a racquet on the ground in disgust.  However, our rule is:  you break it, you buy it.  He has had to dip into his savings account more than once to replace cracked frames – not something he enjoys doing!

And what about Andy Roddick’s match versus Lleyton Hewitt?  These two seasoned veterans (can you call a 29 year old and a 30 year old veterans?)  have been playing each other for years.  Roddick worked extremely hard in the short off-season to prepare for 2012, only to have his run at the AO cut short with a hamstring re-injury in the 2nd set.  How disappointing for Andy and for his fans!  But, Andy stuck it out through that 2nd set and the 3rd, finally retiring the match after losing the 3rd set 6-4.  He showed immense respect for his opponent while playing injured.  He didn’t milk the injury.  He didn’t hobble around the court or start whining about how badly his leg hurt.  He continued to compete.  He ran hard.  He served hard.  He played until he couldn’t play any more.  Say what you will about Roddick, but I was very impressed by his competitive spirit out there and would hope that my son would compete just as hard in that situation.

This morning, I heard American Vania King sing a capella after winning her match against 15 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova – Vania has a beautiful voice!  And, she’s not the only accomplished musician currently on the pro tour.  The Bryan Brothers have released a CD of their music, and former French pro, Yannick Noah, is a rock star in Europe.  It just goes to show that it is possible to be a top tennis professional and develop other skills and talents, too.  Life for these players isn’t only about tennis – they have found a way to round out their lives by pursuing other passions while still achieving the highest levels in their chosen sport.  It’s a great life lesson for our kids to learn – it doesn’t have to be all tennis all the time!

What lessons have you picked up from watching the pros at this year’s first Major event?  Please share them in the Comments box below.

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