New coach appointed ready for new tennis season

8 degrees C with 30mph north easterly winds. Cold weather for tennis. Snow forecast in some parts. 

More like the middle of winter than the start of summer. 

Thermal top plus tracksuit bottoms and hat. Gloves would not have gone amiss. Tennis balls all being blown into one corner of the court, huddling together to keep warm. 

You have to bring attitude to the court on days like this or you might as well stay indoors. Monday 5th April 2021. Please let the record show this as the most unpleasant day to play tennis this year! 

Weather apart it has been great to see so many smiling faces, just pleased to be back on  a tennis court. Sometimes it’s just about getting on a tennis court and hitting some tennis balls. 

Seven and a half hours of just hitting tennis balls this week. Also managed my first double session in a day since before March 20 lockdown with run and tennis on one day this week. Getting the on court off court balance right is going to take  a bit of trial and error I think in the coming weeks. 

Great credit to Steve Askey at The Heron Tennis Centre for putting together a group of players of mixed ages and abilities to play some casual short sets over a Friday morning. And in contrast to Monday a perfect day for tennis.  

First chance of the year to play some games. Whenever the organiser hands you three tennis balls and says go and play on that court over there, it changes everything. It’s like playing a pre season friendly, it doesn’t matter at all but you can learn something about how your preparations are going. I don’t mind admitting to the slightest flutter of nerves as I prepared to serve the first ball. This I take to be  a good sign. Mentally in the right place. 

Over three hours and three short matches against three different players I have never or rarely played before, there is lots to learn. Each player brings their own style and interpretation of how to play the game. Each brings its own challenges and poses its own questions. Match that against how I play the game and each game takes on a unique form, the one constant being how we record the points. Or not on this occasion as I am pretty lax on recalling the scoring today, fortunately my opponents seem to have better recall. 

After three hours there is plenty of feedback to digest on my first outing with my new coach observing for the first time. He’s very analytical watching every point, not saying a lot but he is very observant. I hear him making notes, turning the page in his notebook – old style, scribbling with his stubby pencil – not missing a thing. I think we are going to get along just fine. 

It was not a difficult appointment as he was in fact the only applicant for this lifelong position. Let’s call him MiCoach, he’s been around a while, very attentive even sits with me at breakfast. I just hope the formal recognition doesn’t go to his head. I got him kitted out too with MiCoach logo on his t-shirt and matching cap. 

MiCoach has analysed the session and is insisting on me writing down his observations on my behalf. He insists that leaving everything to memory will be imprecise and likely vary, being kind or harsh depending on how I feel on any particular day. Writing everything down he insists will make everything more objective and he reminds me that was what I asked for at the outset. 

MiCoach has also censored what I might write here, reasoning that what we jointly know and learn together will over time become our competitive advantage.  

Three takeaways from this Friday session that I will share though; 

  1. I didn’t think about age for one moment as being a limiting or relevant factor when on court; 
  2. There are times in a point when the ball lands in certain positions and I don’t yet know tactically where best to hit the ball. I just respond with instinct; 
  3. Progress is encouraging and in the right direction, with plenty more work to do. 

All in all a very enjoyable week

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