Prologue: one day I will play Roger Federer and beat Him.
When I was younger I used to watch the tennis on the TV and especially the guys like McEnroe, Borg and Nastase. Round about Wimbledon time, my brother Alex and I would play a kind of tennis out on our grandfather’s lawn. I would take on the role of John McEnroe and he would enact Jimmy Connors. I would invariably win as I was fourteen and he was eleven. It was all to do with our ages and nothing to do with the fact that I had a proper tennis racket and he had a wobbly piece of cardboard.
All the players we watched were whatever age they were, Alex was the age he was and I was the age I was. Back then, tennis proficiency was all about age. I thought that the pros were pros because they were just a bit older than me, but I could see a time when I would be a bit older and be able to play them at Wimbledon.
As I’ve gotten older, that vision hasn’t faded. I still watch tennis, see these young athletes play their hearts out and still think, one day when I’m older I shall be playing them at Wimbledon and probably beating them. Trouble is, whilst I seem to have gotten older during that time, the tennis players have gotten younger. At this rate I shall be 80 and still aiming to play the young bucks who will become the Federers of their generation.
However, as I’ve gotten older, it’s become clearer that proficiency in tennis is not all about age. It’s clear that one’s tennis prowess isn’t what it might be and that for all the manuals, online tutorials and shouty motivational websites there is nothing available for the tennis player of a certain age that can help propel them and their game into a different league and help bring their dreams to fruition.
This book aims to address that gap.
Part one offers you a veritable cornucopia of playing tips and tricks which will help you deal with all sorts of opponents of all sorts of sizes and shapes, playing all kind of strange shots in the oddest of circumstances.
Part two shows you how to apply those skills and strategies to go on and win a major international tennis tournament. And I should know, because that’s exactly what I did at Wimbledon in July 2013.
Impressed? You will be.
Part three offers excellent advice on how to deal with the media interest and the furore around becoming an international tennis superstar and Sports Personality of the Year to boot. This is not for the faint hearted.
My book though is not just for aspirant tennis players of a certain or any age: it is for everyone who has suffered at the hands of pomposity or institutional inertia and feels that the traditional English values of fair play, a stiff upper lip and self-deprecation are lacking in many areas of our public life. With this in mind, part four offers some hard fought wisdom about how to deal with the Machiavellian politics of the sports club – and by extension our Great British society as a whole. But having said that, sat where I am these days, dear reader, Britain is not as ‘Great’ as it might like to think it is. But all will be revealed as you read on.
In the meantime, let us follow the tradition of tennis clubs around the world and start our adventure together with these immortal words: Play On! Love All!