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Junior tennis is Schtzo tennis

by Evan Gaudreau

Our guest contributor, analayst and coach, Evan Gaudreau is back with a new piece. This one is about junior tennis. Or SCHTZO Tennis…

Check out my podcast with Evan here. And his other match analysis and posts here.

This happens in junior tennis. A lot. And it’s by the parents’ design.

It happens when a student leaves one coach after the coach has been exhausted of their knowledge, or the system they work in is too “weak” for their kid, or the coach says something to the kid (who has been bratty for some time). The kid, who doesn’t want to hear the truth or cannot “see” the truth, starts a series of complaints to the parents, unfounded to boot.

We call them “Jumpers.”

These players jump from coach to coach and system to system. When the learning is gone, it’s time to move on. Apparently! I get it.

In some cases, the student can stay on with a coach too long and the player doesn’t improve past a certain point. A lot of times, this is because of a technical coach.

Meaning, how much more technique can you teach? Right? The technique is the easy part. Kidding.

Players jump coaches

Once the technical piece is done, the player should start focusing more on the contact point and manipulating the ball with different spins and finishes. Even if the purpose is just for fun.

Some tennis players don’t know what fun is. A lot of coaches don’t either.

This carries over to life. That’s why there are life coaches, I guess.

Imagine if you could find a coach or person or a friend who has been through the “ringer” and has come out alive. I been through the depths of despair and back again. Those are the people that fascinate me. They have knowledge and something to teach.

Look! In the tennis world, players jump coaches a lot. The Brooksby situation fascinates me because he has had the same coach since the beginning. That’s rare. But when you find a “hidden” coach, you know there’s no reason to move on. They’re living up on the mountain, hunting, foraging for food, eating pine cones, drinking their own.

No. No. No. That’s Bear Grylls. He doesn’t know anything about tennis.

Why do the Parents think the grass is greener elsewhere? Sometimes, they are right. But what are the parents searching for?
ould it be that they think their kid will be Professional? That they will be the next Federer? And then they can get their life’s work validated.

I’m guilty too

I am guilty too.
I don’t care if one of my kids wants to go pro.
That’s not true!
It’s going pro or bust.
“I was going to have a couple of friends over Friday,” my daughter said.
“No. Its Friday. That’s a training day. You can have friends over another time.”
Her brow tilted. There’s more to life than tennis, she thought.
“Besides, you’ll be too tired. And friends are expendable. You can have friends anytime, but if you want to be a good player, you have to train….School, training, friends.”
And friends get in the way, the coach, no, the parent thought.
She walked away briskly.
I shrugged my shoulders.
She’ll get it, I thought.
But, will she?
This was partly hypothetical.

The point is, maybe she doesn’t want to train to be a pro. Maybe, she wants to be a kid and enjoy being a kid and maybe I am getting in the way of her life’s journey, which has nothing to do with tennis.
“Why would anyone want to be a pro tennis player?” she said to me one day.
“For some people, it’s ok.”
“But it would be so lonely.”
Hint. Hint. He Dummy! (Me) are you taking the hint?
“Who wants to spend their life traveling all the time and not having a family?”
“Sometimes, it’s not a choice. Life has a way of grabbing you and pulling you in whatever direction it wants. The lucky ones see it, kind of. More in hindsight.”
“Well, I don’t know. It just seems weird,” said the 9-year-old.

The Hammer came down and hit me in the head, metaphorically speaking.

Coming clean

To come clean, all I want is for my kids to learn and work hard at something. I just hope they grab on to something and delve into it.

For instance, I liked stories and dabbled in writing as a kid. But I played many sports growing up and didn’t have the extra time to sit at the desk or wherever and start the process.

Plus, the kids who read a lot, or wrote a lot, didn’t look like me. They wore glasses. They looked a bit frail and in need of some Steak (or whatever protein you want to throw in there). They couldn’t play sports, generally.

So I scrapped the idea, yet every so often (over the years) I would get an urge to write a story and never do it. But I thought about it, a lot as I listlessly dragged my feet from one place to the next.

Besides, writers are alcoholics or druggies, and I am not interested in that lifestyle.

So, I delved my artistic side into my sports. I wanted the most bang for the buck. I wanted an artistic swing that could transcend time and never be rigid, always allowing room for lee-way.

I wanted to be a professional, but more importantly, I wanted people to watch me hit the ball and say, “Holy shit! That swing is pure! Wait, What? How did he flick that ball back to the baseline? He didn’t swing properly. You’re not supposed to use your wrist like that!”

You see, I rail about technique because it didn’t get me to the next level…essentially, in today’s standards, I fizzled out at an 11.5 UTR. Yet the next day, I could play at a 9 UTR level. My fluctuation came from the PTSD I didn’t know I had.
And man! The relationships I killed because of it…

Who are you on tour?

“Who on tour would you think I would be in today’s game?” I asked the students.
“Kyrgios,” one kid said.
“Haha,” I said.
“I agree,” another high school kid said.
“Not Federer?” I asked jokingly.

How did we end up here?
I have no clue.

Back to Jumpers.
Think of hanging out with a particular friend. You hang out for a few years and “move” on to another friend.
And the pattern repeats itself over the years, switching friends, adopting their point of view, living someone else’s life and then doing it all over again.

What if one of those friends is a bonehead? What if they’re not? What if one of those friends took you done a road you couldn’t break from…wasting years of development.

Who are you?
Who have you become?
Are you YOU? Or a poor man’s version of someone else?
And why were you jumping around with friends? Did your parents not like your friend? Or were they afraid of you growing up and leaving the house?

Coaches come in all shapes

My kids are my kids. They are not my friends. I’m here to teach and guide them to walk on their own two feet and watch them learn and fail and get the hell out of the way…
Training can be a slippery slope.
Coaches come in all shapes and sizes.
Parents too.

Before having kids, people should explore their inner dialogue and learn a radical form of acceptance. Stop making excuses and blaming other people for their own problems. And come back down to Earth from the pedestal they are sitting on.
I sat on that pedestal one time. I thought my shit didn’t stink!

Now I use Yankee Candle’s concentrated room spray…This month is Cliffside Sunrise…and Beach escape…My daughters picked out the scent, but I was the final say. (Joking.)

Every adult has demons from childhood to conquer, brought on by childhood events or parents. The patterns repeat themselves to the next generation…and so on.

Learning to be humble is challenging, especially for a meatball like me.

One of my PTSD triggers was laughter. It was ok if we were laughing at someone else. But when that turned in my direction.
Watch out! One of many triggers I have had to learn to deal with…yet no matter how much you resolve it…it creeps back in when I’m mentally exhausted.

Are you the jumper?

Every kid has their parents’ voice in their head, good or bad. Throw in five or more coaches in their young life and now they have five more voices in their head….
That’s what we call Schitzo tennis.
How can your child process during the match when they have gone through five swing changes in five years?
I know!
If you don’t understand this piece….and the meaning of a jumper….
And you are too proud to admit it.
I don’t want to leave on a sour note…

The plan to solve all your problems

So I want to leave you with a plan that will solve all your problems. I learned this a long time ago and I had wished I discovered it sooner…
“Here! Take this funnel,” the man said. “And stick it into the top of your pants.”
“Like this?”
“Yes. Very good. Now I want you to take this quarter and put it on your forehead and see if you can balance it without the funnel falling.”
“Got it.”
“Good. Good.”
“Why are we doing this?”
“Don’t worry about it.”
“Now, I want you to see if you can slide the quarter down into the funnel.”
“That’s easy.”
“Excellent. Now, keep your head up. Look into the sky….hold it there for a second. You good.”
“Close your eyes.”
The man pulled out a water bottle and dumped it down the funnel.
Don’t try this at home!

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1 comment

Tom May 18, 2022 - 18:48

Damn, heavy post Evan. Takes a lot to share all this. Thanks for a great read.


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