Red Stage ANZ Hot Shots

Sport is a vital part of childhood development, through sports, the child improves not only their fundamental motor skills but the ability to socialise with their peers. They learn about teamwork and of course, about individual roles. Additionally, through sports, children acquire values, these values can be helpful in a sporting environment but also transferable to day-to-day life. For this reason, it is important to enrol kids in sports practices whatever the sport may be. This will not only help the child develop as an athlete but as a person as well.

Coaching Methodology

At Future Demand Tennis, we understand the importance of sport in a child’s life and that is why we focus on approaching the players with the best methodology in order to understand that every child is different and has unique, individual needs. For this reason, we as coaches pay special attention to our players to give them the best of us.

There are many methodologies to teach children how to play tennis however Future Demand Tennis is aligned with Tennis Australia and we have chosen the ANZ Tennis Hot Shots methodology which is well known around the world and have shown fantastic results in the learning process. Similar methodologies are applied in many countries but under a different name. The International Tennis Association has a similar methodology called “play and stay”, that’s the reason why they 100% support the ANZ Tennis Hot Shots.

 

ANZ Tennis Hot Shots

Tennis Australia defines the Hot Shots as a program designed to help every child, no matter their age or ability, jump in and start playing tennis. Tennis Hot Shots is played on smaller courts with modified equipment, including lighter racquets, lower nets, and low compression balls that don’t bounce too high. All those changes are designed to ease the child’s learning process. There are four stages in the Tennis Hot Shots Program and the kids are designated to each level, not because of their age but because of their motor skills and previous experience in the sport.
Below we will identify some characteristics and facts about every stage:

 

ANZ Hot Shots Blue Stage:

This stage is designed for children between 3 to 5 years but this may change depending on the individual skills of the child. In this stage, we focus on fundamental motor skill activities such as running, jumping, throwing, catching, push and pull and these are the pillars of our lessons. The objective is to build strength, balance and general coordination so do not worry if during the lessons you don’t see much interaction with the racquet as this is part of the normal learning process, and later in the preceding levels you will find more racquet interaction.

In this level, children are going to use Blue tennis balls, they are oversized, with 25% compression level. This makes the bounce lower and as a result, the children have more time to hit it, the court is small as well only 3 meters width and 8.23 meters length, the net is lower than normal to make it easy for them to pass it only 80 centimetres high and the racquet is smaller, between 17 to 19 inches.

In regards to technique, we keep the learning simple, working on groundstrokes, teaching the difference between forehand (one hand) and backhand (two hands). We start introducing the overarm serve but instead of hitting with the racquet, throwing to start the rally. In this level, we select cooperative activities over the competitive activities as the goal is everyone wins and has an unforgettable experience on the court.

 

ANZ Hot Shots Red Stage:

This stage is designed for children between 5 to 8 years. At this level, we focus more on tennis basics but through all levels we never stop working on the athletic skills which means we are going to continue to focus on coordination, and group interaction. At this level, we can find more racquet to child interaction.

The court dimension remains small but increases a little (10.97 meters length and 6 meters width), the net and balls remain the same as the Blue Stage, keeping it simple for them but the racquet may increase the size to 19 to 21 inches.

At Red Stage, we continue to develop the players technique focusing on the correct grips to perform the groundstrokes and introducing the backswing in the different shots. In Red Stage, the kids will start the rally by themselves hitting the ball from the first shot and aiming to their partner, the objective in this level is to execute cooperative rallies with their partner at the end of this level the child would hope to achieve greater accuracy and consistency. We can’t ignore the service motion at Red Stage, we keep it simple without a backswing but emphasising the contact point overhead. This level is full of new knowledge as kids will also learn volleys (forehand and backhand volley). Our principal goal when teaching the volleys are to perform the stroke with the proper grip (continental) and no swing.

As you can see, Red Stage is a stage full of new knowledge and full of nice challenges, but we will continue emphasising in learning through the game, therefore, the cooperative work is going to prevail. We will teach them how to score but not in the tennis official way, we introduce the scoring but one by one getting a big point or a bonus when someone achieves 4 points in that way they will associate easily in the future that 4 points equals a game.

ANZ Hot Shots Orange Stage:

At orange level, the average age is between 8 to 10 and to reach this level the children must have on court experience as a minimum. Ideally, we would love it if they have moved through the previous Hot Shot stages as previous experience is important but is not a determining factor to begin at this stage.

At Orange level, children are stronger and are capable to do more things on court as they have developed accuracy and consistency on the previous levels, the court dimensions are going to increase to ¾ court and the net is full size at this level, the tennis ball pressure increases to 50% to the normal balls and the racquet size change once again to 23 to 25 inches, all these changes will depend on the children’s development understanding that everyone is different.

In this age group, children are ready to go further in technical aspects that is why we are going to focus on the backswing and the follow-through as a swing improvement, these additions to their swings are going to give them the ability to start hitting adding spin to their shots such as topspin. By executing their shots with spin, we expect that they can get more consistency and their shots become more accurate.

Once they are capable of controlling their shots, we move to the next level which provides them tactical skills and introduce the defence and attack concept. The net play will take an important role at this stage as well. The serve is going to play an important role in this stage as the swing is going to be full and the majority of the points are going to start with a normal serve focusing not only on the swing but as well in the grip (continental).

This stage is fundamental in the technical improvement period because the children will perform an important amount of repetition to refine their strokes. In terms of playing the game, this is the stage when the majority of the children would begin competition, as a result, it is vital for them to score properly as they will be required to perform this skill not only in a lesson but also during match play and tournaments.

 

ANZ Hot Shots Green Stage:

Green level is designed for children aged 9 and older but not only is the age important here the tennis and a players coordination skills are fundamental to belong to this level. Players are going to play on a full-size court, with a full-size net and the balls will be at 75% compression than the normal ones, the racquet would be between 25 to 27 inches.

In this level, the concepts and knowledge previously acquired are going to be deeper and the emphasis is going to be placed on resolving questions or problems as to why should I hit to a determined area or what spin to use. In this level, children are going to put the previously learned skills to create game patterns, they are going to be capable of following strategies and we expect them to create their own tactics when they play a match. During this learning process, we will continue to develop the child’s technical skills as they are always important to keep improving.

The players ability to control their shots with spin are going to be pillars at this level. We expect that a child can hit confident groundstrokes, have the ability to change spins whether it be topspin or slice, and in regards to the Serve, we would look for the child to begin to develop a flat and slice serve as a minimum. The net game in this stage would play an important role as the child has now grown and this will help give them the confidence to go to the net. Children also begin to identify the correct moment to attack and this will be a progressional skill that we begin to focus on.

In terms of competition at this level, the majority of children should be competing in their club, region or statewide competition as they have acquired the skill to score and at Green Stage, this would be second nature.

 

Summary

Whatever level that your child currently is, we would like to remind you that this is a long process that we love to be part of, giving our best and giving the Future Demand Tennis player the tools not only to be a tennis player but a great person. Our end goal is that the children reach their best level of play while enjoying every session they are a part of.

Australian Open Rod Laver Arena
  1. The Australian Open holds the record for the highest attendance of any tennis tournament ever staged with 812,174 people attending the 2020 edition
  2. The AO has been staged twice in New Zealand – 1906 & 1912
  3. Novak Djokovic holds the record for the most Men’s Singles titles with 7 wins
  4. Margaret Court holds the record for the most Women’s Singles Titles with 11 wins
  5. The Australian Open was the last of the four majors opened to professionals in 1969
  6. Out of the four Grand Slams, Melbourne Park (Australian Open Venue) is the only venue to have three stadium courts covered by a retractable roof
  7. The Australian Open holds the record for the latest ever match conclusion with the Lleyton Hewitt vs Marcos Baghdatis match in 2008 concluding at 4:33am
  8. The first Australian Open in 1905 was played on a cricket ground which is today known as Albert Reserve Tennis Centre
  9. After winning both his Australian Open Singles titles Jim Courier jumped into the Yarra River for a swim
  10. Ken Rosewall is the youngest and oldest winner of the Men’s Singles title
  11. Martina Hingis is the youngest winner of the Women’s Singles Title at the age of 16
  12. The Australian Open was a Grass Court Event until 1988
  13. Every year the ball kids who work at the AO are made up of a small contingent of overseas ball kids – 20 from Korea, 6 from China, 10 from India and 2 from France
  14. Over 100 Press Conferences take place over the two weeks of the AO
  15. The Australian Open is shown live in more than 220 Countries and Territories around the world
  16. The Australian Open stringers restring over 5000 racquets throughout the tournament using more than 60km’s of string
  17. The highest single-day attendance at the Australian Open is 93,709 at the 2020 edition
  18. Over 700 Journalists and Photographers cover the Australian Open
  19. Close to 50,000 Tennis Balls are used during the tournament
  20. Since 1905 the Australian Open has been staged in January, March, August and December with the Ja middle of January start time being in place since 1977
  21. Kia is the longest-running sponsor of the Australian Open beginning it’s deal in 2002 with the current deal set to expire in 2023
  22. The revenue generated from the Australian Open is over $330million
  23. The last Australian female to win the Women’s Singles Title at the Australian Open was Christine O’Neil in 1978
  24. The last Australian male to win the Men’s Singles Title at the Australian Open was Mark Edmonson in 1976
  25. From 1905 – 1968 the tournament was called The Australasian Championships and it became known as the Australian Open in 1969

Many times I’m down at the courts and I see players practising their Ground Strokes, Volleys and Serves but neglecting to practise their Return of Serve.
When playing matches your first priority is to hold your serve but if your Return Game is poor, you will never get a look in on your opponent’s serve and the best result for you can hope for is being taken to a tie-break. Tie-breaks can essentially become a lottery and you don’t want to be in a lottery every time you play – you want the match played on your terms more often than not. To achieve this and to have a greater chance of breaking your opponents serve you MUST have an effective Return of Serve Routine!

Vital Elements

An effective Return of Serve Routine contains these three vital elements:

  1. It gets you moving into the ball (Moving forward into the court)
  2. By moving forward it helps you to take the Ball Earlier
  3. (Taking the ball earlier) Enables you to take time away from your opponent

Summary

Next time you’re down at the courts make sure you take time to practise your Return of Serve Routine. If you don’t have one, trial both routines that are shown throughout this video and determine which feels most comfortable for you. The more you practise the more automatic the routine will become which will bring you more success when you’re returning serve!

Australian Open Women's Singles Ash Barty

Tennis is played in 211 countries around the world so you can imagine there would be some pretty amazing destinations to go and watch the world’s best players fight it out! Here are 10 Tournaments from around the world that you’d be more than happy to spend your hard-earned getting to……

1. Wimbledon

This one is a no-brainer! The history, the prestige, the surface all make Wimbledon the not-to-be-missed tournament. The atmosphere in the grounds is like nothing else with all the courts being so close together, the roar from Henman Hill or Murray mound (depending on which generation you’re from) when one of the many Brit players is playing is something to behold and even Centre Court has this feeling like you’re stepping into a revered church or palace. The tennis is much faster paced due to the surface not being as conducive to long rallies but is nonetheless exciting! Make sure you get to sample the Strawberries and Cream and a glass or two of Pims and you’ve had the true Wimbledon experience!

 

2. Monte Carlo Masters

In the lead up to the French Open, there are a number of lead up tournaments for players to get accustomed to the red dirt. The one all the men want to win is the Monte Carlo Masters. Set in one of the most beautiful parts of the world the tournament has over 120 years of history and its courts look out onto the Mediterranean Sea! Rafa Nadal seems to like the courts very much – he’s taken home the title a record 11 times!

 

3. Palermo Ladies Open

If you’re looking for a picturesque venue to watch high-level women’s tennis then you can’t go past the Palermo Ladies Open held at the Country Time Club in Palermo each August. The courts are set at the foot of the mountains in Palermo and not far from the shores of the mediterranean sea. The courts have the look and feel of a local club which allows the spectators to get up close to the action. The tournament is played on European Clay meaning the rallies are long and super competitive!

 

4. US Open

All tennis tournaments create their own level of excitement and fever pitch but there is something about the US Open held at Flushing Meadows which sets it apart from the rest. Maybe it’s the humidity at the back end of the American Summer, maybe it’s the sun beating off the acrylic surface or maybe it’s just that the American crowd love to party even at major sporting events. Whatever it is, the players arrive at the end of August each year to determine the last Grand Slam champion for that year. At Wimbledon you’d expect crowds to be courteous, respectful and polite, the US Open, not quite as much but at the same time, what a great contrast!! If you can, try and get a seat on Arthur Ashe Stadium – the biggest stadium court in the world. Just be careful to not book seats in the top tier otherwise you might need your binoculars.

 

5. Paris Masters 1000

Like all tournaments that have made this top ten list, the Paris Masters 1000 has a unique point of difference – it’s the only Masters 1000 event to be played indoors! What this means is that you will get the best 64 players on the ATP Tour battling out with some seriously fast-paced tennis. As you can imagine, indoor courts historically play faster due to the fact the players are dealing with none of the usual elements (wind, sun, rain) that they experience outdoors. This all equates to shorter points and often a lot more net play. The quality of tennis is guaranteed to be of the highest order, there’s no chance of getting rained out or suffering in the sun and lastly, the event is held in Paris, and who doesn’t like spending time in one of the most beautiful cities in the world!

 

6. French Open

Sticking with the French theme you definitely cannot miss attending the French Open at least once in your life. The red clay of Roland Garros makes for some insanely competitive points and the length of rallies can seem to go on for days! Taking out the title is a true test of resilience and perseverance over the two weeks. The crowd at Roland Garros are like no other – unsurprisingly they’ll back their French comrades to the hilt but that’s not to say they won’t support one of the foreign invaders trying to take their crown. Over the years, Steffi Graf, Rafa Nadal, Roger Federer and Jim Courier have all been huge fan favourites in the French capital! No player has come close to Rafa though when it comes to winning the French Open – the Spanish bull has taken the trophy home an astonishing 12 times! On the women’s side, Chris Evert has won the title an amazing 7 times!

 

7. Laver Cup (rotating venue each year)

The Laver Cup concept has only been with us since its inception in 2017 but it’s proved such a huge success that it has become a MUST on any list! The format is simple – think Ryder Cup of Tennis. Team Europe vs Team World. 6 players on each team and they are selected based on their World Ranking. Matches are played over 3 days with 9 Singles and 3 Doubles matches deciding the winning team. The coolest part about this tournament is you get to see great rivals actually teaming together in doubles matches and giving each other courtside instruction at the change of ends. Team Europe have taken out the event all three times but when you’ve got Roger, Rafa and Novak on one team do you expect any other result?!?! As the tournament moves venue from year to year, check the Laver Cup website where the next one is should you want to attend!

8. BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells

Commonly referred to as the 5th Slam, the Indian Wells Tournament consistently draws huge crowds (over 400,000 in 2020) year in year out to its stunning venue. Set in the amazing tourist destination of Palm Springs in California the tournament attracts all the world’s best players to fight it out for the title of Indian Wells champion. From a spectators point of view, Palm Springs has everything you want if you want to combine the tennis with a relaxing March Holiday – amazing weather, luxury resorts, high-end dining and shopping options, spas and world-class golf facilities.

 

9. Rome Masters/Italian Open

The Rome Masters (Men’s Tournament)/Italian Open (Women’s Tournament) is one of the key Clay Court warm-up events for the French Open and has been staged each year since 1930. Much like the French Open, the crowd creates an amazing atmosphere and if you can get in the stands for a match featuring one of the local Italian players you’ll be in for a treat! Outside of the hotly contested matches out on court, you’ll be able to sample some of Rome’s finest food, amazing shopping options and world-class musical performances. Similar to Monte Carlo, Rafa Nadal has a particular liking for this tournament taking out the title 7 times and Chris Evert taking home the Women’s Title 5 times.

 

10. Australian Open

I’ve saved the best for last! The Happy Slam as it’s commonly referred to and also the Grand Slam of Asia/Pacific. The Australian Open consistently prides itself on being the Slam made for the fans.
The grounds are spacious (helps to fit the average 58,000 people per day), there is something for all ages with an amazing Kids Club for 5 -12 year olds, countless eateries displaying Melbourne’s abundant food scene, world-class live entertainment showcasing some of the best international and local artists performing on a live stage through the two weeks and of course, we can’t forget the World Class Tennis the first Slam of the year brings. Year after year the tournament improves from a fans perspective through the development of new stadiums, entertainment areas and improved transportation options. The added bonus of the Australian Open is that it is staged right in the heart of the city and is a mere 5-minute tram journey from Flinders St train station. This allows all fans the option to explore one of the most liveable cities in the world combined with viewing world-class tennis!

Everyone who has played tennis either recreationally or professionally knows the importance of having a solid backhand. The backhand is much harder to master than a forehand owing to the technical abilities that are required to perfect a backhand. This takes years of hard work and practice and does not happen overnight. If a player possesses a backhand which is inconsistent or not powerful, that player is likely to lose a lot of points as a reasonably good opponent will exploit this weakness. This is why it is vital that a player has to have a powerful and consistent backhand in his/her repertoire in order to succeed in tennis at a higher level. There are two ways in which a player can hit a backhand, it can either be single-handed or double-handed. When a player plays a single-handed backhand, he/she uses only one arm (the dominant arm) to swing at the ball. A single-handed backhand is difficult to master, owing to the high level of technical ability required and arm strength as well. However, once a single-handed backhand is mastered it is more effective than a double-handed backhand. With the two-handed backhand, a player will use both arms to swing at the ball. This stroke is almost akin to a baseball swing, but not exactly. Most of the players on the professional tour (especially women) use the double-handed backhand in their tennis games.

In my opinion, the following five players have possessed the best backhands of all time:

 

5. Kei Nishikori

Japanese tennis sensation Kei Nishikori has been the top-ranked Japanese player for over a decade now and is the best men’s tennis player to ever emerge from the island nation. He is comparatively shorter than most players on tour standing at just 5 feet 10 “. To counter his height disadvantage Nishikori has arguably the best footwork on tour, is extremely consistent and has outstanding movement on the tennis court which makes him one of the best counter punchers on tour. To add to this package Nishikori currently boasts one of the best two-handed backhands on tour at the moment. Nishikori generates very high racquet speed and topspin on his backhand which he usually hits very deep into the court, making it difficult for opponents to hit a winner off his backhand. He uses this technique to get a loose ball from the opponent and put away the next shot which has proven to be very effective over the years, hence resulting in Nishikori being a mainstay in the Top 10 for many years.

Kei Nishikori sets up his two-handed backhand in textbook fashion, and his body coils with the shoulders turned to the net in excess of 90 degrees. This allows him to hit with surprising power and plenty of spin, which for a short player is very important. Nishikori also exhibits a massive backswing with the racquet face pointing towards the net during the initial part of the swing, while following through he points his racquet face slightly towards the sky after which he has a slight rotation in the racquet head wherein it faces towards the ground which helps him generate immense power and spin. This is an extremely difficult art to master and the fact that Nishikori does this with such ease makes him more than worthy of a place in the top 5 best backhanders of all time. Also, an important point to note Nishikori hardly ever misses a backhand!

 

4. David Nalbandian

Ever wondered who is tennis’ greatest underachiever? It has to be former Argentinian world number 3, David Nalbandian. On his day, with his gifted talent and powerful groundstrokes, he was capable of beating any player in the world. He along with David Ferrer is considered to be the greatest players to have never won a grand slam, although Nalbandian has reached the semi-finals of all four grand slams which shows that he was an all-court player. It was unfortunate that Nalbandian’s career was hampered with injuries and he was playing during the most competitive era of tennis with the likes of Roger Federer, Marat Safin, Lleyton Hewitt and many others competing during his era to name a few. Regardless of all this, during his time Nalbandian possessed in his repertoire one of the best double backhands on tour.

Nalbandian’s trademark shot is his double-handed backhand down-the-line, which was often regarded as one of the best double-handed backhands on the men’s tour. He often used it to set up a point, by either hitting a clean winner or forcing a weak return from the opponent. Nalbandian boasts a smooth, fluid and seamless motion while hitting his backhand, where there is no pause in the racquet during the take-back, a problem which many recreational players face while hitting their backhand. Nalbandian chooses to use a fairly straight back take back, but one important key is that Nalbandian drops his racket head below the level of the ball seconds before he makes contact with the ball. Like on the forehand, dropping the racket head below the level of the ball is essential for generating topspin to increase the margin of safety on the shot. These facets make Nalbandian’s backhand one of the most effective and consistent backhands ever to be seen in the sport. Furthermore, he possessed a brilliant jump backhand which he used numerous times to drill a winner down the line. This further emphasizes the natural talent that he had as this shot is borderline impossible to hit accurately and Nalbandian made it look unbelievably easy!

 

3. Stanislas Wawrinka

The first one-hander to make it to this list is Swiss sensation Stanislas Wawrinka. For the majority of this decade, Wawrinka has been ranked in the top 10 which is a commendable feat considering the vast array of talent that has graced the men’s game. Within that time, he has managed to win 3 grand slams which is a creditable achievement. Wawrinka has one of the best single-handed backhands in the history of the game and generates unbelievable topspin and power. In addition to this, Wawrinka also has a solid forehand, a powerful serve and a decent volley game. More than his tennis prowess, Wawrinka is also well known for his fighting spirit and his mental strength on the court, wherein he has won numerous tight matches and has come back from seemingly unwinnable positions numerous times in his illustrious career.

Wawrinka’s backhand drive motion is unique in certain aspects. While releasing the racquet to make contact with the ball, he turns his hip and body which allows him to open up his chest further to generate more acceleration and power on his stroke. More often than not, he contacts the ball at the 45-degree angle of the court which is considered to be the perfect contact point. He also is very good at transferring his weight while following through with his shot, which can be noticed while watching slow-motion videos of his backhand which results in ferocious power. Wawrinka also has a very effective slice and has the ability to hit winners from anywhere on the court. He also deals with high loopy shots well on his backhand side, which most one-handers struggle with. If you want a visual on just how well he can strike his backhand, take a look at his backhand down the line shot versus Novak Djokovic at the 2015 Roland-Garros Final.

 

2. Richard Gasquet

Probably the least high-profile player in this list is French stalwart Richard Gasquet. Big things were expected from Gasquet after he broke into the top 10 almost 13 years ago. However, he has been quite inconsistent over the years and has been in and out of the Top 20 over the years. This is largely due to his weak forehand and serve which top players exploit. He also loses a lot of matches from dominant positions and lacks the mental strength to handle high-pressure situations. Furthermore, his movement has been questionable and has comparatively slow movement around the court compared to his counterparts. However, all these negatives aside there is nothing negative that can be said about his single-handed backhand which is arguably the best one-hander on the men’s tour right now.

Gasquet is not a big built player like many others and yet manages to generate one of the most powerful backhands on tour. This is solely down to his technical ability and timing which he has mastered over the years. In preparation for the shot, Gasquet positions himself behind the ball and transfers his momentum forward in such a manner that all his weight is transferred on to his front foot as he strikes the ball in front of his body. Gasquet uses an eastern grip while striking his backhand which allows him to keep his racquet face closed upon contact thereby resulting in a lot of topspin being generated. Gasquet has an unusual take-back – the face of the racket is open as if he is preparing to slice the ball, adding disguise – but his fundamentals are spot on. He turns his shoulder and sets himself behind the ball. His backhand is technically different from Wawrinka, however, is equally if not more effective. Hopefully, he works on the other facets of his game and he can break into the top 10 once again!

 

1. Novak Djokovic

Does this man really need any introduction? 17 Time Grand Slam winner, Current World Number 1, best returner of serve the game of tennis has ever witnessed, unbelievable agility are just a few of the superlatives one can use to describe the superhuman that is Novak Djokovic. He has been the best player in the world for the last five years after changing his diet and hasn’t looked back since. He has been ranked in the top 3 for the majority of the last 13 years, which not only shows his consistency but also his fitness to compete at the top level for such a long period of time. Novak is one of the few players that has solid groundstrokes of both flanks. However, since backhand is technically a harder stroke to master his backhand is considered to be of a higher level. The only notable weakness in Novak’s game is his overhead, however, this is a shot which is not hit very often in tennis and does not impact match outcomes. Novak has the best two-handed backhand that the game has ever seen, strongly owing to his ability to strike solid returns of his backhand which the majority of the players cannot do.

Novak Djokovic Backhand technique is simple, yet flawless and smooth which allows him to generate both power and topspin from anywhere on the court. When dealing with pace Djokovic blocks and jabs the ball on his backhand but can also redirect and counter attack even when on the run. He also has the unique ability to hit a two-handed backhand on the slide which most top-level players struggle to do which sets him apart from the others. If we look at Djokovic’s backhand, we see the Serbian does not alter the level of the racket head throughout the duration of the take-back. If he were to raise the level of the take-back, he would be costing himself adequate time to finalize his swing. In contrast, if he were to lower the level of the racket head, he decreases the size of the circle and ultimately reduces the amount of spin and power he is able to impart upon the ball. Such a high level of mastery over the stroke puts him at number one on this list. This may be pushing it, but if Novak surpasses Roger Federer’s grand slam record he has to be considered the best player of all time doesn’t he?

 

Honourable Mentions

Nikolay Davydenko

 

Nicholas Almagro

 

Visualisation

“If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it, then I can achieve it.”, a very famous quote by the great Muhammad Ali, and time to time we hear from many famous people that they bought their desires into reality by manifesting it through their visions and affirmations. So, what is manifestation? It is putting something into our physical reality through our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. To conceive something in our mind we need to see it with clarity too through the eyes of our mind, and this process of generating mental imagery is called creative visualization. It is a way to stimulate or recreate a visual perception.
Visualization or mental rehearsal in sports is a great tool shared not only by great athletes or high performing people but most of us in our lives, be it personal or professional. Our brain is the master of our body but still most of the time we work hard neck down and forget that it all starts from our brain and the mind residing in it. What is the mind? It is the manifestation of thoughts, perception, emotion, determination, memory, and imagination that takes place within the brain.

I see this tool as a powerful way to increase my mental strength and push me toward achieving something. It drives my motivation and helps build self-confidence and determination in me.
So, is it all? We just need to create a mental image. NO!
A very important aspect of using creative visualization for manifesting our desired results is the feelings and beliefs associated with it. So, it is very important to see, feel, and believe. It is like drawing your favourite piece of art on a blank paper.

My way to Visualization

My way is quite simple, firstly I create the ambience of the room with the fragrance of essential oil to relax and support a clear vision of what I want to manifest. Let’s say, I want to win a match against the best player in the club. Now, I sit on a chair or the ground with a straight spine and eyes closed. I begin with deep breathing to calm my thoughts and focus to visualize and feel everything, even the little details from start to finish including the weather, colours, lines, my excitement and nervousness, everything that happens on a match day. I see myself entering the club and going through a ritual of warm-up before entering the court, then starting on-court warmup and finally playing the match. I envision myself hitting the ball with good positions, stances, racquet preparation and execution on the shots; moving around the court; following the ball trajectory and the location of my shots landing on the other side. While I am playing this match in my mind, I create the strategies to win points and recreate the situations which were hard to win – i.e. my opponent playing his best. It allows me to experience point play under pressure and replay the points from the past, the only difference in this mental rehearsal is I see myself winning those points and eventually the match at the end. I also feel the joy of winning the match and at last, once I am finished, I slowly open my eyes.

You can use this tool on daily basis for practice sessions where you are specifically working on a technique or tactic, or for anything else that you want in your life.

Affirmations to support your visualization

Visualization is also incomplete without mentioning positive affirmations because an element of how this tool works is the essence of the things taking place now and here. Using affirmations (short, powerful statements used in a positive way to consciously influence your thoughts) will enhance your visualization. It may feel senseless to do affirmations out loud if you are not feeling it, but what we speak we make it real. Just like when you visualize you create energy through a mental image with all its sensations, emotions, and feelings, you can also create higher vibes with the words you speak out loud. For affirmations be mindful of using positive words.

Expectations

Lastly, have expectations. After all, there is no point in visualizing and not expecting the results. But don’t expect results to show up with you not putting any action. It will also depend on your perseverance to change your actions to support new habits to achieve your manifestation as it will require a new habit of thought, belief, and action. It is like updating your phones and computers to a new operating system where hardware doesn’t change but the software is all-new for better device performance. Time to time your trust and faith will be tested but if you keep a check on your actions and habits to align with your manifestation, it will ultimately happen. Remember, our actions become our habits and those habits become who we are.

To summarize, achieving something through the practice of visualization you need the following steps:

  1. Write precisely about what you want.
  2. Describe your vision in detail.
  3. Start to visualize, create emotions and feelings associated and do affirmations to boost your vision.
  4. Take daily actions to bring your vision to the physical world.
  5. Have courage and persist to achieve it.

Now go on, to practice this tool and play your best game with your toughest opponent in your mind and bring out the best of you.

Written By – Sonaal Asthana, Junior Development Coach @ Future Demand Tennis

Australian Open Ball Kid

Ballkids is one of the coolest experiences I have ever had. You are quite literally up and close with all the players and amongst the action of the Australian Open like no other person. Even though I only made it in on my last eligible year, it was one of the best summer experiences I’ve ever had. This is a little bit of the process you go through:

Eligible Age Group

At the Australian Open in Melbourne, the ages to be a ballkid is between 12-15 years of age. This means that kids who are 11 can try out the year before the tournament starts, as long as they turn 12 before January 1.

Ballkid Trials & Training

The first trial is usually around February – March and is done at a local tennis club/facility that you select when registering. During this trial, supervisors are looking at your ability to roll the ball, catch and throw the ball. If you are successful through the first round you will complete your second trial at Melbourne Park. If you move through trial 2 you will be invited into the ‘training squad’. This means that from around August – November you will complete four training sessions. In the training sessions, you complete drills to help with your rolling, throwing, catching, and general match flow on the court. After the four training sessions, you will find out if you have made it into the official squad and if successful YAY. You do one more training session and then begin real matches including December showdowns/playoffs through to the actual tournament.

Working at the Australian Open

During the tournaments, you will ballkid for 45 mins or an hour depending on how hot it is, and then be off for 45 mins/hour. Shifts will either be in the morning, arvo into the evening and or night. There are two positions as ballkid, the 2 net ballkids, and the 4 base ballkids. As a net ballkid, you are responsible for collecting any balls that hit the net or land in that general area and distributing them to base ballkids where required. Net ballkids also help with player service (such as giving them a cold towel) and a few other roles. Base ballkids are located at the back of the court in each corner, and are responsible for collect balls in their area, serving balls and towels to players. For the court to run smoothly all the ballkids must communicate with each other and work as a team. Ballkids are usually placed as a net or base ballkid depending on their height (taller kids are usually base ballkids, and shorter kids are usually at the net), however, it can always change, and it is important to be able to perform both roles if need be.

Benefits

There are many benefits of being a ballkid besides being close up to the action. For kids, this is a great introduction to “working” in a professional environment, where kids can learn responsibility. It is also a great social environment where kids can meet many people and make friends. Ballkids is an awesome opportunity for kids to get involved in not only the Australian Open but many other tennis tournaments, and I would highly recommend it to anyone.

Further Information

(Attached below is some further information about ballkids).
https://worldtennischallenge.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Woolworths-Ballkids-Program-at-the-WTC-2017-Training-guide.pdf

Match Preparation

To achieve that winning feeling from your weekly tennis match you need to be well organized beforehand.
Don’t rely on your parents for the following, as you need to take responsibility for your performance.

 

Remember to:

Set Your Alarm

1. Wake up at least 90mins before your match, especially if your match commences at 8.30 am. Our bodies take at least 1 hour to wake up so set your alarm the night before for a fun morning ahead.

Breakfast

2. Eat a nutritious breakfast consisting of- cereal, toast, fruit, juice etc. Don`t rush out the door with no food eaten as your body’s blood sugar level will be low and you will have no energy for the match ahead.

Warm-Up

3. Do some light stretches at home (approx. 5 mins) to warm up and loosen your muscles so you’re ready for the match ahead.

Pack Your Bag

4. Pack your Tennis Bag with your racquet/s Water Bottle full of water, cap, towel, spare socks. Also, a snack or fruit is helpful if your match is in the morning and you may play more than 3 sets.

Tie Your Shoe Laces Firmly!

5. Have your shoelaces tied firmly BEFORE you enter the court so your movement, court speed is at its best.

 

Tournament Play

If you are playing in a tournament for the entire day try to:-

Organize a light 30 min warm-up hit at your local court nearby before travelling to the tournament venue.
This will relax your mind, warm up your muscles and help your footwork for the day ahead.
Also take a larger water bottle, more snacks and fruit in preparation for a longer day ahead and perhaps waiting between matches.

 

ENJOY your match as you are now well organized to have fun and win at tennis!

Competitive Tennis

Taking the leap from learning the game to playing the game competitively can be one of the biggest decisions and challenges for players to make – both junior or adult. There are a number of unanswered (and potentially scary) questions children and parents will want to be answered prior to making the jump into competitive play.

 

From a developmental and progression perspective I will always encourage a player to begin to challenge themselves by competing for the following reasons:

Pressure to Execute

1.Competition tennis instantly adds an element of pressure to the strokes you are trying to execute as there is an end goal (to win the point).

Match (Positive) Pressure

2. This pressure is an enormous positive for the player as it highlights the need to concentrate on every shot that is being executed. (Players can cruise through tennis lessons because they know even if they miss a shot or lose a point the lesson will continue all the way until the allotted time is over). This match pressure will help develop a more focussed approach to the player’s lessons result in accelerated stroke development.

Technical & Tactical Progression

3.The heightened level of focus results in progress both technically and tactically.

Improves Tactical Knowledge (Patterns of Play)

4.Competition tennis greatly helps to improve a player’s tactical knowledge of the game as they begin to learn numerous patterns of play to win points.

Develops the Players Mental Approach

5.Competition tennis is also a fantastic arena where a player can develop their mental approach to concepts such as winning and losing, dispute resolution, self-belief and positive/negative reinforcement.

 

Players Concerns & Solutions

The most common concerns I hear before a player takes the next step into competition tennis are:

  1. I’m not good enough – if you can rally and get 5/10 serves in play you’re right to go!
  2. I’m going to lose every match – not necessarily as you’ll be grouped with players your standard.
  3. No one my standard plays competition – Competition standards range from entry-level players through to top section suburban players.
  4. I’m going to let my teammates/partner down as my level of play isn’t as strong as theirs – Every tennis player setting out on their competitive journey has to begin somewhere. Your focus when starting competition is to learn the game in a competitive environment not to have an expectation to win immediately.

 

To summarise, playing tennis competitively helps you to develop your skills much more rapidly, it teaches you to handle pressure, it can help with goal setting and working towards achieving those goals, it’s great for building self-confidence and it gets you active amongst your local community.

Hi there!
Coach Cal here,
So as you’re well aware, Future Demand Tennis has opened up a blog series and I thought I’d take this opportunity to look at tennis from a more mental perspective. To look at life on court through rose-tinted glasses if you will. Look at its emotional connection and things that have applied to life and tennis to not only make me a better player
but a better person.

I hope you’ll indulge me, and hopefully, whatever your age, whatever your standard and whatever your reason may be for playing this beautiful game, you can gain something from what I’ve experienced.

So for Numero Uno, I’m going for the question we all start with:
‘Why tennis? What makes tennis worth it?’

Well… I’m glad you asked…
(You most certainly didn’t ask but it’s my blog contribution so work with me here!)

Tennis is the chameleon of the sporting world. She’s the same game, but she blends into whatever environment you put her in.

(Also to address the actual question in your head, ‘why’s tennis a she?’… I was taught at a young age that all the most beautiful things in life were a woman. Who said chivalry is dead? However, I digress…)

Tennis is slightly different to your average chameleon however, she transforms those who enter her environment.
You could enter on the court a child picking up a racket for the first time, a seasoned veteran fresh off their 20th ITF title victory or some random who saw some person in a headband ‘grunt funny’ on tv and decided to give it a try to see if it was really necessary.

You walk on the court, you are now a tennis player.
Congratulations.
No exceptions.

It can be a relaxing hit, a lesson, a match. She comes in many different colours.
Clay courts, grass courts, hard courts,
The concrete ya uncle had leftover on a job for some couple in Toorak that they clearly over-budgeted for.
Slap some lines and a net on that bad boy and you have a court.

World-class courts aren’t the only thing that can be supplemented though. Rackets aren’t always necessary either, ask the rather convenient ‘2 by 4’ I used every time my parents took my rackets for ‘not doing my homework.’

(In hindsight, was probably why I had great hand-eye coordination at such a young age… and also why that homework still remains unfinished)

Don’t even need friends. Just a wall and a ball and ya trusty plank of wood. This was especially convenient for me… little Cal had a hard time making friends.

But it didn’t matter.
I had already met the love of my life.
And she was the sweetest.
(Ohhhhh yeahhhh, I’m about to get really dramatic on ALLLLL OF Y’ALLLLLL)

Tennis, like most sports, became a retreat for me. It became my armour against the world, where the bad things would ricochet off of me. She was my protection from all the bad things around me.
Bad day?
Something as simple as a ball and a racket and my imagination could fix it.
Being bullied?
Who needs their understanding when I understood something as perfectly as I understood tennis.
Can’t seem to do anything right?
Who cares! I couldn’t do anything wrong on the court.

My front yard garage became Rod Laver arena and I became the greatest Australian player since the stadium’s namesake every time I asked my dad to move the car out the way, provided he wasn’t sound asleep, in which case we called rain delays and hoped that weather would pass (I.e. my dad would get off the couch).

Back then I was going for the all-time male record of 15 grand slams (jeez how that’s changed) and I was allllllways fighting back from 2 sets to love down in the final, carrying an injury because apparently I had to also be the biggest badass in history while I did it.

Tennis never judged, she never laughed at me and my imagination. She egged me on! She added to it with every off bounce, with every solid contact with every stroke of my racket I painted the picture of happiness, me, dripping in sweat, a smile as wide as the great Australian bite and a mother at the doorway calling me to dinner for what she always claimed to be ‘the hundredth time boy!’

Tennis was everything to me.
I loved her and she loved me.
And I didn’t need anything else.

Now I’m aware of everything that’s happening in the world, and at this time, tennis is so close and yet so far.

But you have a wall, you have a court. You have a game that will open it’s armed to you and embrace you as an equal.

So, dear reader, my fellow tennis player.
It doesn’t matter if it’s your first time with a racket or whether you have hand-shaped grooves moulded into the damn things grip.
You can still have her around.
You may not have the same experience with the beautiful game (no not football) that I do. But you have a golden opportunity to get acquainted again and again and again.
All it takes is a ball and a little imagination.

Times may be tough, but trust me, tennis will be there for you, just like she was for me.
She can be your friend, your ally, your safe harbour. And god do I love her for it.

So does that explain it?
So if you’ll explain it, it’s 9 o’clock and I’ve got a night session match… I had to keep Fed waiting…

Thank you for reading,
I hope to talk again soon.

Cal