Turning My Journey into Helping Others…
Like you, tennis is in my blood. My Dad got me started playing at age six, but I didn’t get the ‘bug’ until I was 13. That’s very late to start dreaming of playing professional tennis, but, nevertheless, I dug in wholeheartedly.
Like most junior players, I had my tennis idols, chief among them being Ivan Lendl, who was number one in the world and taking the game of tennis to a new level of pace and fitness. It was his game that I first started to study, and this was then followed by every other ‘great’ since.
I played #1 for my high school, but my game wasn’t developed enough to pursue my dream. I headed to Michigan State University and was asked to try out for the team by the coach, but I dropped out of college and headed out with an independent coach I had met there to play what was then called the Satellites; the lower rung of the ATP Tour.
The wins didn’t come and the money ran out.
In 1993, now in my early twenties and having regrouped, I moved to Iowa for six months, where a good friend and long-time coaching adviser was living. He had invited a friend of his who was traveling with players on the Satellite tour to rest with him for the summer. I headed there and this new coach completely retooled my game with two-a-day practices and written video analysis of each session, teaching me about efficiency.
The money resources again ran low, but I had learned so much. The problem now was that my game was so efficient that it was neither adaptable or explosive. On the journey went, working with a coach who believed in a Zen approach. That was tough for me. In 1996, at age 25, I moved to Sarasota, FL sleeping in my car, to meet a coach who promised he could help me. He could not.
My frustration was that I couldn’t seem to get the complete coaching knowledge that I needed to generate world-class strokes.
At the risk of sounding trite, perseverance paid off; mind-numbing, absurd, obsessive, getting back up from wanting to give up time and again kind of persistence. I kept experimenting over the years, kept studying the greats (Sampras, Agassi, Federer and a host of others).
What foundational elements were in all the best strokes? What allowed their strokes to be Efficient, Powerful, and Adaptable above and beyond most others? And how do you overcome bad habits that get in the way of this?
My quest has always been to develop these strokes for my own game. Coaching is something I decided to start in 2006 after a life change. Since then, my commitment has been to working on my own game and part-time coaching.
Now, I’m 40 years old and playing the best tennis of my life with a handful of remaining tennis dreams. And my students? Well, they get to skip the trial and error I went through and benefit from my eagle like stroke vision. I have beginners who learn in three months what took me three decades.