Archive for the 'tennis' Category

22
juin
10

Tennis balls and Easton wheels

Before I was a cyclist, I was a tennis teaching Pro. Here’s the short version of a long story:

  • University of Montreal (Phys.Ed. and French Literature)
  • Club Med Cancun, Mexico
  • Bridgehampton Tennis and Surf Club, NY
  • Team Scandinavia, Florida
  • Team Scandinavia, Japan
  • Mont-Tremblant – 2 years of goofing around – mountain bike – knee surgery – High school teacher – road bike – massage therapist – more road bike  – writer. 

At one point, tennis was my life. I would teach from 8 to 11, train from 11 to noon, eat lunch, nap until 2:30, and teach again from 3 to 6, 6 days a week. Loved it!

But teaching is very different from playing. You hit the ball in a way the clients can hit back. You don’t always put as much spin, you don’t hit it as early and aggressively as you’d like, you don’t aim for the lines and don’t hit as deep as you could. Basically, you play a politically correct kinda game, making sure the clients look good and hopefully come back for more private lessons! When you finally get on the court for a match after a few hours of teaching, you realize that your timing is off. That sharp edge you need as a player is gone. You slowly loose your temper and start missing easy shots. Your confidence level drops. You lost your game. Playing tennis is no fun anymore, as it becomes a psychological struggle with yourself.

I believe I was a great, dedicated teacher but a poor player. Where was I going with that? Hmmm, oh yeah I remember: the difference between tennis and cycling. When I played, I experienced more bad days than good ones. I was very hard on myself, getting frustrated or discouraged every time I’d miss a shot in the net. Lots of negative thoughts, bad words and inevitably, a few wrecked racquets… Not the greatest picture!

Cycling is in many ways, totally different. It clears my mind, inspires me, forces me to dig deep into my soul to push away my limits. Once I’m in my kit, I put on my pokerface (like my good friend @raceG206 likes to say!). Hiding behind my glasses and helmet, I become a forceful rider; strong, confident and gutsy. Unless my back is really hurting, nothing can get to me. Enjoying every pedal stroke, in and out the saddle, up and down the mountains, having fun sprinting for signs with Pat and trying to learn not to attack too soon!

Don’t get me wrong, I often think about tennis. I miss hitting my two-handed backhand down the line, coming to the net or taking the ball on the rise on my forehand… But things have changed. My spine and major muscle groups involved say there is no way back. I’m ok with that… As long as I can ride my bike!  

I said it before, I’ll say it again, “my bike; my lifesaver, my soulsaver!”

Have a good Tuesday!

PS Yes, I will be watching Wimbledon for the next 2 weeks!

Started playing when I was 8 years old!

Club Med Cancun, 1996. Don’t try this at home: a full western forehand grip!

Japan, 1998. Can’t remember why…

Mari-jo

01
déc
09

A price to pay!

A Grand Slam in tennis represents what The Tour de France is for cycling.

You get the idea, it’s huge, a gigantic event: great athletes, millions of fans, sponsors and a lot of $.

There are 4 in withing a year: Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and of course, New York’s US Open.

 As a teaching pro, I can’t remember exactly how many times I went to Flushing Meadows. Was it 6 or 7? Anyway, what I remember about it is the crazy atmosphere out there! I mean crazy in a good way: fun, loud, busy, crowded, and thrilling!

 Sooo many players to see: men, women, juniors, doubles, mixed doubles. You get them all when you host a Grand Slam. Also, there are about 20 practice courts where you can watch the best players in the world, warming-up with their coaches, talking and sometimes, taking pictures.

 It can be overwhelming…  

 Day sessions are awesome. But night matches are electrifying! History was often made with lights on. Over the years, we saw the finest tennis players of all times, spectacular matches, extensive battles, remarkable comebacks, surprising endings.

 Epic duels: McEnroe, Connors, Lendl, Agassi, Sampras, Federer.

On the women’s side: Evert, Navatilova, Capriati, Seles, Graf, Henin, Sharapova…

And the Williams sisters. Together, those 2 have won 7 titles, including doubles.

 But, what we never saw before, was what happened on September 12 2009, on Arthur Ashe Stadium. Here’s a quick recap:

 Women’s semi-final match. Serena Williams vs. Kim Clijsters. Williams is serving at 5-6, second set (she lost the first one). A line judge called a foot fault, making the score 15-40, match point against her. Then, it happens; Williams goes mad, yelling (who knows what!) at the line judge. She ends up with a point penalty because of 2 code violations, giving the match to Clijsters. Racquet abuse and unsportsmanlike conduct.

Here is the link to the video where you see Serena yelling at the line judge:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAEEpRuO1Go

I somehow feel uncomfortable when I watch that 36 second video. In my mind, it’s way beyond the foot fault.

Intimidation, unnecessary aggressiveness, lack of respect for the rules, the officials, the players, the sport itself and the fans.

 Fortunately, Williams’case has been reviewed: On Monday November 30th, she was fined $82, 500 by The Grand Slam committee and is now serving a “probationary period”.

http://www.tennis.com/news/news.aspx?id=192826

Ouff! I may live in a fantasy world but I do like “my” athletes when they behave like true champions…

Can’t wait for The Australian Open, January 18 to 31!

Mjo

If you want to know more about this: http://sports.yahoo.com/ten/blog/busted_racquet/post/Serena-Williams-berates-official-loses-match-fo?urn=ten,189028

15
nov
09

"Open" Andre Agassi

Super entrevue de Katie Couric à l’émission 60 Minutes, à CBS dimanche soir passé. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/11/05/60minutes/main5537569.shtml 

Un Andre Agassi disponible, sensible et honnête, venu présenter son autobiographie intitulée « OPEN », qui a beaucoup fait jaser dans le monde du tennis ces dernières semaines.

Révélation choc : et oui, il a fait usage d’une drogue, la crystal meth! Déceptions, accusations, et jugements de certains ses pairs, notamment Federer, Nadal, Safin, Navratilova et Nastase.

Bon, la poussière retombée, remettons les pendules à l’heure!

D’abord, il faut savoir qu’Agassi a été élevé par un père obsédé par le tennis. Son but : que son fils devienne le # 1 mondial. L’école? Une perte de temps, à son avis. Déjà à 6 ans, il le faisait pratiquer 4 à 5 heures par jour. Un crinqué!

Après un séjour de 2 ans à la célèbre  Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy, il fait le saut dans les rangs professionnels à l’âge de 16 ans.

En 1994, il devient # 1 mondial. Puis, un an plus tard, à l’U.S. Open, il frappe un mur et perd devant Pete Sampras. Le début de sa dégringolade. Il a de plus en plus de difficulté à gérer son image, craint de décevoir ses nombreux fans et commanditaires. Résultat des courses : une relation père-fils malsaine, une carrière basée sur une fausse image (eh oui, une fausse crinière, ayant commencé à perdre ses cheveux à 17 ans!), un mariage vacillant avec Brooke Shields et une haine profonde pour le tennis. « I was living a lie », relate-t-il à Regis and Kelly.

 C’est à cette époque qu’il découvre la « crystal meth », ( http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%A9thamph%C3%A9tamine ) non pas dans le but d’améliorer ses performances sur le court, mais plutôt pour reprendre goût à la vie. Il en fait usage pendant presqu’un an en 1997, à l’insu de ses proches. Alors confronté aux autorités, il ment, affirmant avoir fait usage de la drogue sans le savoir.  

Son coach lui lance alors un ultimatum; recommencer à zéro ou quitter le tennis. Pour la première fois de sa vie, il fait un choix. En 1 an et demi, il passe du 141ième rang mondial et redevient le # 1. Certainement l’un des retours les plus admirables dans l’histoire du sport. Une deuxième chance selon lui, ayant su transformer une période médiocre de sa vie, en un exploit remarquable.

À 36 ans, marié à Steffi Graf et père de 2 enfants, il met fin à sa carrière après 21 ans sur le circuit ATP.

Depuis, il se dévoue à sa fondation,  Andre Agassi Foundation For Education, à Las Vegas. http://www.agassifoundation.org/   Sa mission : transformer le système d’éducation pour offrir de plus grandes possibilités aux enfants provenant de milieux défavorisés.

Finalement, Agassi semble avoir trouvé un certain équilibre dans sa vie. Avec sa fondation et son programme Agassi Prep, il s’assure que les jeunes puissent faire leur propres choix.




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