I played on the tour between 1967 and 1973. When I first went to England, where all the tennis was played in those days, we played in the tournaments as amateurs. There was no prize money. We only received our train fares between tournaments calculated to the penny and were billeted with local families who provided lunch and dinner. We ate lunch at the club.
After a few years they changed us from amateurs to registered players and introduced a small amount of prize money, usually only for the winners of the tournament. I remember I won 10 pounds for winning the tournament at Tourquay. It was a mammoth effort. It was a grass tournament initially, then it changed to loam after rain. It kept raining and we were transferred to cement courts. After still more rain I ended up playing the final indoors on wood at the Palace Hotel beating Judy Congden 14 – 12 in the third.
During my 6 year career I won 30 singles tournaments and 25 doubles tournaments. My total prize money was $5,000 most of which I won at one of the last tournaments I played in at Barcelona. We were now professionals. This is equivalent of $37,500 in today’s money.
What a difference it is today. First round losers in the Australian will receive $90,000.
However, I do not feel hard done by or that my career in tennis was a total loss. I learned so much from playing tennis which certainly has proved invaluable during my life, in my career in real estate and other activities I’ve undertaken. I ended up starting my own business which I ran successfully for over 30 years and was in the top 10% in sales in Australia, I wrote “A Spanish Love Affair”, speak Spanish and can sing and play the guitar.
- Racket back. As soon as you see the ball and decide which side it’s going to early preparation is essential. Whatever you undertake, early preparation is absolutely necessary.
- As is Follow through – If you don’t follow through with your strokes in tennis, the ball goes all over the place. In real estate it definitely applies. I was always surprised when I rang back people who had been through an open inspection to see what they thought about the property, when they told me I was the first agent who ever called them back.
- Hit the ball at the top of the bounce. This a great lesson about procrastination. In tennis the ball actually stands still at the top of the bounce so it’s easier to hit although many of the top players hit the ball these days on the way up. If, however you leave it until the ball is on the way down it is much harder as the ball is going twice as fast.
- Practice makes perfect – To become a reasonably good tennis player requires practise. My brother, John and I practised before school and after school until it got dark. Learning about practice was a great staple for all other areas of my life and skills I wanted to develop. Learning the guitar and singing, public speaking and learning to speak other languages and writing my Memoir “A Spanish Love Affair”, to name a few.
- Tennis gives you the ability to relate and communicate with all kinds of different people. Tennis players come in all different colours, may have different politics and creeds, be from a different social strata, speak a different language but on the court we are tennis players. I noticed racism didn’t exist among tennis players on the tour. It was whether someone has a great serve and you just have to try and get it back into play or a poor backhand which you are going to hammer especially on tight points, that counts.
- Tennis is played by both sexes and is very helpful for learning to interact with both genders.
- Relationships with your tennis partner definitely teaches communication and the ability to give and take.
- Mixed doubles is especially helpful especially if you don’t have brothers and/or sisters.
- You can turn up at a tennis court anywhere in the world, if you can play a reasonable game of tennis and be accepted.
- It’s fun
- PERSISTENCE Probably the best lesson I learnt from tennis is persistence – to never give up until the last point. You never know when the game can change. The recent Federer v Millman match comes to mind.
- THINK ON YOUR FEET – You’re on your own on the singles court especially in the early days of playing so you have to work out your own tactics.
- STICK TO A WINNING GAME – If something is working for you stick with it. There’s absolutely no reason to change.
4.CHANGE A LOSING GAME – If you’re losing it’s another story. You’ve got to make a change.
You also may have to change a stroke or your grip in order to improve your game.
- CHANGE The process of change is exactly the same in other areas of your life and having gone through it in tennis is a great precursor. Changing something is never easy. I remember changing my backhand. At one stage I couldn’t hit the old one nor the new one. Just like in life.
- COURAGE AND SELF RELIANCE I’ve learnt both of these playing tennis matches.
- TURNING UP ON TIME – If you’re late for a match you are forfeited.
- QUICK REACTIONS especially at the net.
- CHARACTER BUILDING – We all lose in life. Learning to lose is a great life lesson. Learning a lesson from a loss and making changes so it won’t happen again. To quote Barty after her match with Kvitova today.
- LEARNING TO DEAL WITH LIFE’S UPS AND DOWNS Some days the ball is like a pumpkin and other days it’s like a pin head. Learning to roll with the punches, to adapt and make the best out of those off days is a great life skill.
- SELF ESTEEM Becoming competent at playing tennis is great for your self esteem. When I was sexually abused by my tennis coach when I was 11, I felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me. My life fell apart. I lost all confidence in my self. I struggled with my emotional life all through my teens as a result. Tennis was always there steady in the background and undoubtedly helped pull me through.
- Improves your metabolic function. Depending on your weight playing doubles burns between 288 to 365 calories an hour and singles burns between 414 and 524 calories per hour. Exercise is great for counteracting the obesity crisis.
- Increases aerobic capacity
- Lowers resting heart rate and blood pressure
- Increases bone density
- Lowers body fat
- Improves muscle tone, strength and flexibility
- Tennis requires you to be creative and it involves planning, tactical thinking, agility and the coordination of different parts of the body. Aerobic workout like tennis are especially good for improving your mood.
- Research on depression, anxiety and exercise shows that the psychological and physical benefits of exercise can help improve mood and reduce anxiety.
AND BEST OF ALL
- People who regularly play tennis have the longest live expectancy compared with people who do other activities such as jogging, swimming or bicycling. Tennis players live an average of 9.7 years longer than people who don’t do any exercise. (Copenhagen City Heart Study) Feb 20 2019.