Age Ain’t Nothin’ But A Number

I turn 30 in just over 9 months time. I honestly cannot believe how fast my 20s went. I remember being a teenager and desperately wanting to turn 20 and put all the “teenage drama” behind me. There were so many ups and downs, much similar to a roller coaster. I just knew that once I moved past the age of 19 and turned 20, everything will change and it certainly did. I felt a brand new confidence on my 20th birthday, where I was competing on tour in Bundaberg, Australia and on my favourite surface – clay. I had just returned from a European clay court tour and I felt like I finally found my way in the sport.

I was browsing LinkedIn for some daily inspiration and I came across this article written by Business Insider. It’s certainly worth the read.

17 Things to Start Doing in Your 20s So You Don’t Live in Regret in Your 40s

I now look back at my 20s and I can confidently say that I have lived by these tips, however I can improve in many areas. I feel as though over the past 4 years or so, I lost the tremendous confidence that I had in my early 20s. There have been multiple factors of course, however the worst part of that was the negative impact it had on my personal life. The saying “everything that goes up, must come down” certainly hit home hard in my case.

After reading this article, I feel as though it could act as a blueprint towards a happier and healthier life for me and I’ll certainly be mindful of these tips over the next decade of my life, irrespective of my age. I hope that it has a similarly impact on you too.

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Lessons from my European travels

I remember a time when you relied upon people by either a confirmation over the phone, on face value or via email. Days, weeks and even months would go by but it didn’t matter as you gave someone your word. You were only as good as keeping your word.

I grew up with this understanding and it served me very well when I was a traveling tennis pro, moving from town to town throughout Europe for months on end. I would liaise with a tournament director via email with regard to my travel/accommodation arrangements for the week, and that was my only point of contact on many occasions. I didn’t carry an iPhone as I couldn’t afford one so I had to go without a phone contact most of the time. It amazed me how on every single occasion I was greeted with such genuine hospitality and warmth by complete strangers at either an airport terminal, train station or in their home. It was daunting but you just go with it.

Fast forward to 2018, just over 7 years that I ended my competitive playing career and nothing has changed for me. I have continued to believe in the goodwill you acquire when being able to keep ones word. Just as I emailed a complete stranger and requested travel/accommodation arrangements (often sharing a room with others too) I take similar steps to secure employment and request more information about something of my interest. I keep things simple and clear, often using one line of communication, either email or Instagram for example and I go with it.

There are so many lessons to be learned when you are disconnected and have very little to rely on. Your interaction with a complete stranger becomes your only option and you have to react and respond on your feet. It’s make or break. No second chances. I believe it’s survival skills that are the single most important skills to develop and have confidence with above all others in life.

Blacktown Tennis Centre – Stanhope Gardens

It’s pretty amazing what can happen when you take a leap of faith in life. A few months ago, I decided to make the commitment to build my networks within the tennis industry and follow my passion for this game.

An amazing opportunity has come my way which takes me full circle in my tennis career. I have accepted a position as Tennis Instructor at Blacktown Tennis Centre located in Stanhope Gardens Leisure Centre.

Blacktown Tennis Association was the very first that I competed for as a child, over 20 years ago! It was the start of my career that has led me on this amazing journey. I am so excited to give back to my community by doing what I am most passionate about.

If you would like to know more about this amazing facility and the programs on offer, visit Blacktown Tennis Centre Stanhope.

Why is clay court tennis different?

Tennis is perhaps one of the only sports that requires an athlete to compete on more than four different surfaces throughout one season. Just off the top of my head, you have Plexicushion (Australian Open), Har-Tru (Green Clay, Charleston Open), Red Clay (French Open and Europe), Natural Grass (Wimbledon, England and Netherlands), Deco-Turf (US Open, Hard Court, USA) and other variations of hard court surfaces throughout the world. The impact on the body and mind in order to adjust your style of play, movement and strategy every couple of months (even weeks if you consider that the French Open is played only three weeks before Wimbledon), makes tennis one of the most demanding and interesting sports in the world.

I would like to draw your attention to clay court tennis, specifically red clay. I personally find this surface one of the best for game development because it teaches players the following:

  • Adjustment: a player is required to make more adjustments with their feet as there is never a true bounce of the ball (the direction changes on each bounce)
  • Patience: a player has to hit more tennis balls in each rally because their opponent can utilise the slide to retrieve
  • Resilience: there is no such thing as winning a point quickly, because the speed of the ball is absorbed dramatically on impact, slowing the ball down off the bounce, giving the opposition more time to retrieve and extend the rally
  • Movement: the slide is one of the most important types of movement for a tennis player to master, as it teaches a player the importance of fluidity of movement whilst transitioning from one stroke to another during a rally (notice how professional athletes are now sliding on harder surfaces as well).

These four areas are perhaps the most difficult to develop in younger players. Having said all of the above, it is important to note that clay court tennis favours a defensive style of play, due to the slower bounces and ability for players to retrieve by utilising a slide. Many players that train in Asia, Australia and the US develop offensive styles of play since they are exposed to harder surfaces much more than red clay. In contrast, players that train in Europe and South America develop strong defensive styles of play and create patterns of play due to their exposure to red clay.

I believe the best way to develop as a player is to strike the right balance between playing on slower surfaces (clay, plexicushion, synthetic grass) and faster surfaces (hard courts, deco-turf) in order to understand how to be both a defensive and offensive player. Once your body develops, you will begin to notice your strengths and weaknesses as a player and only then you can find your game style accordingly.

NSW Age Gold JT

The tournament season continues with my students James, Jordan and Jayden Chen and Sonia Joudo competing at the NSW Age Gold JT.

After another great effort in his last tournament and a fantastic session with me, James is continuing to develop his all court game extremely well. The process of developing your game is a long one and he is certainly showing more patience and confidence during the “bigger points” on court. He has won his first qualification match and will continue to battle it out on court tomorrow at the Blacktown Leisure Centre in Stanhope Gardens NSW.

Jordan and Jayden also had a great session with me, where we are continuing to improve their court positioning, awareness and reading play. They have competed in the 12/under event and have lost their pre-qualifying matches. They will face off against one another in the consolation event. This is another important learning curve for them and I’m sure that they will be eager to make the improvements necessary going forward.

Sonia Joudo has had a great day of tennis, winning her first round match in the pre-qualifying event and falling short in the final round of pre-qualification. She was able to gain a lucky loser position into the qualification event, which is a great opportunity for her to gain confidence as a competitor against other seasoned players. As one of my newer students, we’ve focused on developing her strokes and playing with more intention. The commitment she has shown to improve has been fantastic and today’s result is a testament to her effort and willingness to learn and develop as a player. Her tournament continues tomorrow at Sydney Olympic Park in Homebush NSW.

Track their progress throughout the tournament here: NSW Age Gold JT

High Performance Camps at Premier Tennis Academy

I feel very proud and honoured to be conducting the High Performance Camps at the Kings School in Parramatta, NSW over the next two weeks. I will be working alongside the coaching team and staff at Premier Tennis Academy to ensure that our students are going to have a tremendous experience with us over the next fortnight. I’m super excited to begin. See you out on court!

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For more information and registration, go to High Performance Camp at Premier Tennis Academy.

Nepean Junior Gold JT

The tournament phase is set to continue this week for my students James Chen, Jordan Chen and Jayden Chen.

Earlier this month at the Nepean Easter Open, I noted areas such as confidence, competitiveness and court awareness as key performance indicators during the matches they played. We went back to the drawing board once again, and focused on these areas in our lessons. The drills were simple, yet effective. It is very easy to over complicate a process as it does depend on each student and what works best for them.

It appears as though this momentum has done the trick for James. He has shown terrific resilience, confidence and focus on court today, winning his first main draw match of the tournament. It is a fantastic result, particularly after the disappointment of his prior loss at the Nepean Easter Open and I am super proud of his effort today. He has shown the gamesmanship that is required to excel in this sport. The tournament continues on for him tomorrow.

Jordan and Jayden will be competing in the 12/under event and gaining more exposure to various opponents and tournament conditions which is exactly what they need for their age. The game of tennis is still very much a “game” for younger players and emphasising fun and enjoyment of competition is what brings out the best in them.

Track their progress throughout the tournament here: 2018 Nepean Junior Gold JT

4th Year Anniversary at Premier Tennis Academy

I remember setting a few goals in early 2017, which were to graduate from university, network with other professionals and continue coaching and mentoring my students at Premier Tennis Academy. I did exactly that 🙂

In 2017, I graduated from university, gained new skills and networks whilst working at Deloitte as a graduate accountant and continued working in my role as a tennis coach at Premier Tennis Academy. It was a very busy year indeed!

I feel extremely fortunate to have had such a strong relationship with the owner and team at Premier Tennis Academy, particularly during a time of transition post-university. It truly was my saving grace on many occasions during the past year. My respect and admiration for the team grew and I feel very proud to be a part of the team at Premier Tennis Academy. Our key performance indicators are always about our actions towards building and maintaining strong relationships, which I advocate in my daily life.

In Year 4, I will be keen to spend more time on court and travelling throughout NSW with my players as they compete on the junior tour. I will also be working harder to build my networks within this sport and follow my passion for this game. It will be another amazing year!

Nepean Easter Open

This time of year is very exciting for my players and myself as their coach and mentor. It’s about putting all of our hard work from the beginning of the year to the test by competing in tournament conditions. I have always said that the only way to truly gauge your improvement as a player is by doing training blocks and competing at tournament level. It is a constant process of trial and error.

Many of my students will be competing this weekend at the Nepean Easter Open, which is excellent for them. I have had a very different journey with each of my players. No two players are ever the same and can be coached the same way. There has been a unique process for each of them, whereby the goals have ranged from improving footwork, to court awareness, strategy, strength and conditioning and recovery post-competition.

I’m looking forward to watching and supporting my players which include James Chen, Jordan Chen, Jayden Chen and Sonia Joudo.

Track their progress throughout the tournament here: 2018 Nepean Easter Open Draws

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