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Donkey Wins Tennis Australian Open

Donkey is Going to Win the Tennis Australian Open 2008 Title!

by Sergio Cruz, former Coach of World #1 Jim Courier

No! No! Just kidding. Of course a donkey could not ever win the Australian Open in tennis, or the Kentucky Derby! I am just trying to get your attention! (smile).

This is about the eternal question "Are Champions born or made"? And the answer is "Champions are born not made"!  A champion will be a champion because of his/her genetical make up, and not because someone made them.

Sure, some of you are saying, ney, ney, you do not know what you are talking about! Ok, I respect your opinion but, please give me a chance and continue reading.

To make it easier to understand. Just consider the brain and ask yourself can everyone that has been born man or woman be a Nuclear Scientist or Einstein? Most of you will agree that the answer is, no. The same applies to tennis and everything else. Another example is this rhetorical question, did anyone ever see a donkey winning the Kentucky Derby?

This leads to your question, what about you bragging that you Coached Jim Courier and gave on court instruction to players like: Pete Sampras, Cedric Pioline, Tim Mayotte, David Wheaton, Brad Gilbert, Mark Knowles, Doug Flach, Bonnie Gaduzek, David Nankin, Julie Halard, Mary Pierce and many others? Yes, you are right, it is just an ego trip! In all humbleness we coaches need the knowledge and the implementation know how, but without Champions with a special set of genetic qualities, Coaches are just nothing!

Are you trying to say that all those entourages of experts, psycologists, masseurs, coaches, guru coaches, strengh and speed coaches, papa coaches, mama coaches, physiotherapists, could all stay at home and the players would still, play the same? Yep! Go ask Roger Federer, or Ken Rosewall or Rod Laver and a horde of other great players! Why do you think Paul Anacone read the newspaper while Pete Sampras was playing? (This is no joke look at TV match tapes). Do you think Pete cared? Of course not, the job was done outside the court, during the match it was up to Pete to perform and win.

Do you also mean that all those "Big Name Tennis Academies" in Florida and around the world can not make Champions? You got it, they cannot! They have a good function and that is to get very rich kids who can afford a tennis and school tuition in the tens of thousands of dollars a year, a chance to prepare for a college team and if they are good enough, to get a college coach to recruit some of them.

The true champions that go to those academies and later on become professional players, are already champions when they get there. If those academies could really make champions, there would be hundreds of thousands of tennis champions, if you consider that some of those academies are visited by over 400 youngsters per week throughout the summer months and hundreds if not thousands sprinkled in the year, not to mention that in a low estimate there are about 60 million tennis players world wide and from such a great pool of tennis players there are just about 30 something real top class men and women in the ATP/WTA professional circuits while the rest are just mere participants.

Here are the Men and Women 2007 Tournament winners. (Mind you that the amount of winners would be reduced to a handful on either tour if the top five ranked players played low tier tournaments):


- Djokovic, Novak 5 - Ljubicic, Ivan 2 - Malisse, Xavier 2 - Ferrer, David 3 - Blake, James 2 - Federer, Roger 7 + Masters - Luis Horna 1 - Baghdatis, Marcos 1 - Andy Murray 2 - Simon, Gilles 2 - Canas, Guillermo 1 - Haas, Tommy 1 - Youzhny, Mikhail 1 - Monaco, Juan 3 - Chela, Juan Ignacio 1 - Hewitt, Lleyton 1 - Nadal, Rafael 5 - Almagro, Nicolas 1 - Karlovic, Ivo 2 - Mathieu, Paul-Henri 2 - Kohlschreiber, Philipp 1 - Roddick, Andy 2 - Berdych, Tomas 1 - Santoro, Fabrice 2 - Darcis, Steve 1 - Stepanek, Radek 1 - Tursunov, Dmitry 2 - Moya, Carlos 1 - Robredo, Tommy 2 - Gonzalez, Fernando 1 - Gasquet, Richard 1 - Davydenko, Nikolay 1 - Nalbandian, David 2 - Grosjean, Sebastien 1

WTA Women

Dinara Safina 1 - Jelena Jankovic 4 - Kim Clijsters 1 - Anna Chakvetadze 4 - Serena Williams 2 - Martina Hingis 1 - Nadia Petrova 1 - Sybille Bammer 1 - Amelie Mauresmo 1 - Yaroslava Shvedova 1 - Justine Henin 10 - Venus Williams 3 - Roberta Vinci 1 - Emilie Loit 1 - Daniela Hantuchova 1 - Tatiana Golovin 2 - Gisela Dulko 2 - Greta Arn 1 - Ana Ivanovic 3 - Akiko Morigami 1 - Milagros Sequera 1 - Anabel Medina Garrigues 1 - Elena Dementieva 2 - Meghann Shaughnessy 1 - Agnes Szavay 2 - Francesca Schiavone 1 - Maria Sharapova 1 - Agnieszka Radwanska 1 - Svetlana Kuznetsova 1 - Lindsay Davenport 2 - Maria Kirilenko 1 - Virginie Razzano 2 - Pauline Parmentier 1 - Flavia Pennetta 1 - Daniela Hantuchova 1 -

Why are then Champions indeed born? I will answer this question in depth in my next article.

In the meantime remember speed and strength are very important in tennis and how fast you are is genetically predetermined at birth by the fast twitching muscle fibers your forefathers gave you and the balanced strength of your overall body. So to reap the benefits of "your" maximum natural inborn speed you need to develop the following good habits:

  • Go to a track and field and watch carefully all the routines of track and field 100 meter runners, they do all the right things. Copy their exercises even the stretches and cool down exercises.
  • If you are lucky enough to be attending a college or in an area were sprinters abound and you are good enough, ask the Coach if you could participate in their speed training program. Its an enlightening experience, I can vouch for that!
  • Then develop excellent starting technique (similar to the 50 meter dash sprinters)
  • Explosiveness (Age appropriate exercises include use of weights, elastics, force-resistence etc..)
  • Learn to release the tennis racket from supporting hand and pump like any sprinter in large distances (up to 10 meters a cross the court - to drop shots, angle shots)

                                                              Sprinting on a tennis court

  • Parallel acceleration by leading your baseline starts always with big powerful FIRST step towards the incoming wide ball, right foot forehand, left foot backhand - lefties, right foot backhand, left foot forehand, while strongly pushing off with the opposite foot on the same direction (the ball).
  •             Roger Federer footwork moving to a forehand

               Roger Federer footwork moving to a backhand

  • Use these techniques on the practice court first, then in point play and finally on match play.

You must feel comfortable with what is your maximum 100 meter speed, be it 11'', 10, 30'', 10 seconds, (or the 50, 20, 10 meter or start reaction time) whatever it is, once you've achieved it in power and technique it will be "your" maximum speed for the rest of your life with very little fluctuations from day to day.

The important thing is that you fought and worked hard to achieve that goal and you should be immensely proud of yourself and your tennis will greatly benefit from it. Never compare yourself to others or feel bad about not being as good as so and so. Measure yourself against yourself and the clock and you will always be happy with your achievements.

Finally, keep in mind that maintaining a high level of excellence requires rigorous discipline and unabated work ethic for a life time.

All the best improving your tennis.

Sérgio Cruz

Copyright ©®. All rights reserved.

Sérgio Cruz is an ex # 1 National Champion, Davis Cup Player from Portugal and former Coach of Jim Courier, ATP World Ranking # 1

Other Tennis Articles by Chris Lewis:

Are Tennis Champions Born? -- Or Made?
On Court Coaching: Should It Be Allowed?
Wimbledon Center Court: What An Experience
Tennis Parents: "The Ugly Parent Syndrome"
Tennis Ethics
A National Junior Development Program Disaster
Harry Hopman: A Tennis Legend
Vitas Gerulaitis: Rest In Peace
Tennis Marketing: Substance Versus Image

Other Articles by Chris Lewis:

A Tribute to Maria Montessori -- An Article on Child Education
Suzuki and Montessori Versus Today's Culture

More Tennis Articles:

Mental Toughness - by Tomaz Mencinger
Tennis Psychology - by Tomaz Mencinger
Tennis Shoes History - By Cheri Britton
Womens Tennis Apparel - By Cheri Britton
The Wimbledon Trophy -- A History - By Miguel Seabra
Doubles Tennis Strategy - By Kathy Krajco


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