After Rafa’s dominance on the clay, it is hard to count him out of any title race. Is this the Slam that one of the next generation finally catch the golden generation? Who will win Wimbledon 2019, blah, blah, blah...... who cares!
I get so bored reading speculative pieces like this about upcoming Grand Slams. Personally I’d much prefer to be playing tennis than watching tennis. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching tennis at all levels. I will enjoy watching a good junior match between two technically sound 11 year olds as much as a 2nd round match at Wimbledon. I’d prefer watching a good college match over any other match or sport for that matter, but that’s for another day.
If you are reading this then you are here to learn, not to listen to someone blabber on about Djokovic’s chances of defending his title or if Serena can find her 5th gear again. When I watch tennis I watch it firstly to learn. I look at the players court positioning, patterns of play, routines and rituals, how they respond to adversity etc. I watch from the perspective of a student first and a fan second.
I am always surprised by how infrequently aspiring tennis players watch tennis, and when they do, they appear to be doing so passively, probably looking at their phone in between points and at the start of each set. Imagine being an aspiring surgeon and getting to see the worlds best surgeons on TV working their craft on a regular basis. I have to believe these future surgeons would be glued to the TV trying to learn everything they can, taking notes and developing questions for their instructors when they return to class. Aspiring tennis players get to see exactly how the best in the world are playing tennis and could do so almost on command. They are even provided the gift of glimpses of these players training methods through Instagram and other social media platforms. What I would have given for this opportunity. I can’t tell you excited I was as an 11 year old to receive a grainy betamax video of a John McEnroe instructional tennis video. I must have watched it about 200 times!
I am working on my dissertation for my masters at the moment. I am attempting to understand college tennis coaches perspectives on the development of college tennis players. So far I have interviewed 10 coaches with a minimum of 10 years head coaching experience. Many of these coaches have won at least 1 NCAA college tennis title. Every single one of them said that those that players that develop the most during their college years are CURIOUS about the game of tennis, and more specifically their own game. They are constantly looking for ways to learn.
If you claim to be an aspiring tennis player, don’t skip over Wimbledon this July as you search the channels for “The Bachelorette”. Put the phone away and study how your favourite players compete. Soak up every little thing they are doing. Notice how much they use the deep middle part of the court during rallies, take a closer look at their in between point routines, and try to understand what patterns they use on the big points and why. There are lots of different ways to learn, but this for me is one of the most enjoyable. I have my favourite players too, but it makes no difference to my day-to-day life who wins and loses; selfishly I am just trying to learn a little bit more from these incredible athletes.