Tag Archives: Tennis Australia

Phil Hughes. Little Aussie Battler

27 Nov

Phil HughesWhile those of us in the tennis industry sometimes get carried away and talk about tennis as our national sport, and as Tennis Australia will tell you on every piece of collateral that comes out of Melbourne Park – “Tennis – Australia’s Favourite” ,  the simple fact is Cricket in this sports-mad nation – is, was, and probably always will be “Australia’s favourite game”. Look at the out pouring of grief over little Aussie battler Phil Hughes. Hughes, just 25 years of age, was struck on the back of the head by a fast ball on Tuesday, fell to the ground, and despite surgery and an induced coma, died. The country is in mourning. Loss. Young talent, gone. While playing the game he loved. Phil Hughes hailed from a banana and cattle property in Macksville – population 2,000. A country boy, who grew up in the rough and tumble farming community. He hit cricket balls dangling from a sock on the farmhouse veranda, and played mock “test” matches with his brother in the paddock by the house until night fell. He was a tough nut. Loved rugby league and had a penchant for tackling boys twice his size – just as well because he was small in stature. A tough, pesky left-handed batsmen from the sticks who relied on his reflexes and instinct to score. And score he did. He was a prolific run gatherer – so much so that his form demanded he be selected for the national team. Hughes became an Australian test cricketer at the tender age of 19. A proud moment – for Hughes and for his hometown. The local pub got behind him – free drinks for as long as Hughes was in batting. Poor bloke almost went broke as Phil Hughes, in his second test, slayed the hostile South African attack to centuries in both innings of the match. Hughes had arrived. All who knew Hughes describe his “boy from the bush” nature, his love for the game, his street smarts, his ability to light up a locker room, his work ethic, but over and above all: his courage. He was the ultimate Aussie battler, the Little Lleyton, the Phar Lap, the Lionel Rose. Phil Hughes didn’t know how to take a backward step. The PRO

Fast. Faster. Fastest… Sam Groth hits the 3 fastest serves ever recorded.

15 May

Aussie tennis journeyman Sam Groth, knows all about the highs and lows of sport. He was feted as a genuine prospect some 7 years ago following a runner-up performance in the junior boys doubles at Wimbledon, and had the full backing and funding of Tennis Australia, and the Australian Institute of Sport.  Coaching, overseas training camps, managed tours and the odd wildcard to skip qualifiers were all lavished upon him. Groth had talent, a prodigious bullying serve, he was raw, athletic and possessed an uncomplicated game plan. Sam worked hard, but was frequently injured – another player struck down by the pounding schedule and over training on hardcourts. And the fruits of his labour – a career high ATP ranking of 220, total prize-money in the vicinity of US$40K, a couple of Futures singles wins. Not much to show – but anyone who has been down that road knows just how tough it is.

The LOWS

Fast forward to the winter of 2011.

I am coaching at Melbourne Park, and Sam walks in and asks to borrow some tennis balls to blast some serves on the court next to me. He looks a dejected figure – and has recently split up with his wife (WTA top 30 player Jarmilia Gajdosova) and tells me “the Doc wants me to crank a few serves out to loosen the arm” – he then lets me know he is going under the knife for shoulder surgery the following day. I thought at the time if only I had a radar – as one after another Groth pounded down explosive serves on the indoor courts to anyone who dared attempt a return – and there was only a handful of  volunteers – simply too dangerous. Seemed the past 7 or 8 years striving to “make it” had really hit home- and Sam was taking it out on his arm. He was serving MASSIVE.

Sam spent time recuperating, his rehab was doing the odd bit of coaching, hanging out with some old buddies, he tried a stint of Aussie Rules football and finally was persuaded to give the tour one last shot. He won a Futures event in Bendigo, and was given a spot in the Aussie Open wildcard play-off. Needless to say his lack of match practice stood out – he served BIG, but was unable to combat John Millman’s grinding game. Another Futures win in Ipswich was the catalyst to give it one more go overseas.

The HIGH – a 263 km/h BOMB.

And it was in Busan, South Korea last week that Sam Groth had one of those sporting highs. Groth not only set the world record for the fastest serve ever recorded – but the top 3 of ALL TIME. Ivo Karlovic had the fastest serve – it was 251km/h. Groth blasted serves at 253 km/h, 255 km/h and 263 km/h. Groth has broken back into the ATP top 400 – currently 317 – and has the goal of getting inside his pre-op. high of 220. And his gameplan, it’s still uncomplicated. “Enjoy what I am doing, stay fit, injury free; and serve BIG”. 

The PRO

How much should I play..

21 Feb

Junior talent, how much should you be playing?

20 February 2012 |   0 1

HOW MUCH SHOULD I BE PLAYING?   by former Tennis Australia Head Coach, High Performance and Club Master Pro Jamie Parrott.

One of the most frequently asked questions from players and especially parents of younger players is “How much should I train? And how many matches and tournaments should I gear up for?”

In my 30+ years of coaching tennis I would be rich if I had a dollar for every time this question has been asked. I have, over time and with coaching industry consultation, come up with the following information which should be of use to you all. The table is reflective of the coaching pathway I  devised over time and was used by Tennis Australia at their commercial tennis centres and also published on their web-site. It aligns with each of the progressive levels in Australia’s accepted junior coaching pathway.

Please remember all young players are different and have different needs. This is not just dependant on size and physical development, but technical ability, stage and type of gamestyle development,  and in terms of sleep patterns and recovery, so the tables are generalisations that are a guideline only.

PLAYING LEVEL (Guide only) ON COURT TENNIS TRAINING ** OFF COURT PHYSICAL TRAINING TOTAL HOURS PER WEEK
Hot Shots Minis and Red Ball 2-3 2-3 4-6
MLC Orange and Green ball Hot Shots 4-6 4 8-10
Development Squad 7-8 4 12-13
Comp squad (starting level) 10-12 5 15-17

*On court tennis, includes coaching sessions – squad training, private lessons, and matchplay.

** Off court physical training includes tennis specific fitness, other sports, school P.E etc

In addition to these training hours players should also be following a competitive schedule too. Whether it be at coloured ball challenges at Hot Shots level, JDS tournaments, local and schools competition or tournaments, or simply practice matches as part of a weekly program – they are all important parts of a players development.

I generally recommend players are ready for inter-club competition at an advanced Orange or early Green ball stage of their development. Ideally these formative years should be on a clay court (en-tout-cas in Melbourne). The surface is much softer therefore reducing injuries in growing bodies. It also plays slower, which it makes it the best learning surface. Kids have to learn to work the ball and their opponent around the court, and when defending are more able to run balls down due to the slower court. Check out your local club and get involved in their competitive pathway. I also suggest players enter and play JDS and OJT level tournaments at the appropriate stages of their development.

Level Practice matches and competition Matches per year
Green ball 2 sets / 1-2 matches per week 30 – 40 matches
Development squad level 4 sets or 2 matches per week 50-80 matches
Competition squad level 6 sets or 3 matches per week 60-80 matches

In any form of endeavour that you wish to take seriously there is no substitute for practice and persistence. Time on the court – more specifically quality time on the court is paramount to achieving any milestones in the game. Like anything there is no substitute for hard work. So continue to strive for your goals and climb the player pathway – and remember to “do your best every day”.

The PRO.