Episode#:24 Shaun Boyce and Bobby Schindler

ATP: Luke Jensen talks about the Atlanta Open, coaching CoCo Vandeweghe, and kids these days

1993 ATP Doubles French Open winner Luke Jensen talks to Bobby and Shaun about Atlanta tennis, the Atlanta Open, coaching CoCo on the WTA tour, and how coaches can deal with modern kids.

Shaun Boyce USPTA: [email protected]

https://tennisforchildren.com/ 🎾

Bobby Schindler USPTA: [email protected]https://windermerecommunity.net/ 🎾

Geovanna Boyce: [email protected]https://regeovinate.com/ πŸ’ͺπŸΌπŸ‹οΈ

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Transcript
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Welcome to the Atlanta Tennis Podcast.

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Every episode is titled, "It starts with tennis" and goes from there.

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We talk with coaches, club managers, industry business professionals,

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technology experts, and anyone else we find interesting.

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We want to have a conversation as long as it starts with tennis.

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[MUSIC]

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Hey, this is Sean with the Atlanta Tennis Podcast, powered by GoTennis.

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Check out our calendar of Metro Atlanta tennis events at Let'sGoTennis.com,

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where you can also find deals on equipment, apparel, and more.

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In this episode, we talked to Luke Jensen, current coach of Coco Van Dewey,

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an advocate for the Atlanta Tennis Open.

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Have a listen and let us know what you think.

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You mentioned in an email recently that you're working with the Atlanta Open.

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So can you tell me about what you're doing here in Atlanta?

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>> Yeah, I'm blessed to have had Atlanta and our family since 1990.

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My first vacation, I think I was eight years old, one of my mom's brothers,

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Uncle of ours lived in Marietta near the big chicken.

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I'll never forget the big chicken and everything.

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Just a great summer, went to six flags, but

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went to the Atlanta Open as a kid and got to see John McInero and went to a clinic with Stan Smith and Dennis Ralston.

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And it was just awesome to see professional tennis, even though I didn't really understand it or anything.

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But it was just great event.

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And watching where such great talent really came from in the United States,

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back in the Al Parker owns the National Junior Titles record,

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most gold balls in boys history in the juniors, all American at Georgia,

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played some pro tennis stuff, Michael Perne for us, all everything at Georgia,

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finals of the French Open.

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All these talented players and

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programs are coming out of Atlanta, the weather, the facilities, more importantly when you're traveling and touring,

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everything direct from the airport.

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So instead of being up in Michigan where you needed like a stage coach and get on a train,

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that you got a hike 50 miles, everything's direct, which is great as a pro tennis player.

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So I've been here since 90 in different capacities, play the Atlanta Open and played

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Alta, coached Alta and stuff, and just there's such a great energy in tennis here in the subdivisions and the clubs and things.

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Everybody's so positive.

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And then a couple years ago Wayne Bryant was like the MC of the tournament for doing appearances for corporate sponsors and for

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Alta teams and things like that.

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And he couldn't do it one year.

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So I honestly was after Wimmelden, I was salmon fishing in a kayak on Lake Michigan.

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And I get a call from my mom, the agent, hey, Eddie Gonzalez needs a replacement.

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Can you be here tomorrow?

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And I'm like, I'm smelling like salmon.

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Yeah, I'm, I'm rowing my kayak back in.

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I get in the car, couldn't make it in time for a flight wasn't going to get me there.

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So I drove all night, get to Atlantic station and start the next morning.

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I think we had an eight o'clock clinic or something like that.

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And then we run clinics, do a lot of promotions because they bring in like Coco Gough,

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they bring in a Sloan Stevens, Maddie keys, Johnny Max spending here.

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To do like that kick off for the tournament.

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Atlanta does such a great job.

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The Atlanta open just getting people involved because it's a tricky market.

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Tennis players here like the play.

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And unless you're bringing Roger Federer and Rafa and these guys,

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they don't watch unless you're bring, you can't bring Roger Rabbit in expect.

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So they bring Kirios, Jack Sock is entertaining Benoit pair.

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They bring personalities as well as John Isler's one this thing like 6,000 times.

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But they have now that the American men are doing extremely well as well as the women.

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So you gravitate to the JJ Wolves and you gravitate to the Sebi quarters and the Taylor Fritzes

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and you see the Jensen Brooks piece.

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So my involvement really has been kind of a year round presence of ticket sales awareness

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because I live local in Sandy Springs.

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You know, it's just a it's a home game for me.

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And it's just I'm blessed to be able to still be part of this tennis community.

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And you know, whether it's going to your serve tennis and get my rack is strung

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and picking up my gear.

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It just running into people that are just playing out and tennis is is our jam here.

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It really is.

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And we're just I'm blessed and my family's blessed to have been been here since 1990.

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I'm still laughing.

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I don't have anything to say Sean.

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I'm taking you.

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Well, you left out the world team tennis too.

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Luke, I mean, we had a blast doing that with the Thunder.

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That was always an interesting experience.

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That's right.

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Yeah, that place is gone now as a bummer, but yeah, you know, the like I said that you can

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win here in Atlanta with tennis events, but you have got to get go to them.

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Give them a reason why to go.

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You got to entertain them and he entertain their kids and things.

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And I think Atlanta open has done that continues to evolve and talk with the management.

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Now Eddie Gonzalez has not moved on after a great run.

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Just getting it to where it really needs to be.

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And now with the product, I think Atlantic stations great for the players because you get

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to stay right there at that hotel, walk down the practice this year.

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I think practice is at Georgia Tech.

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So that, you know, in the wild cards, go to the, you know, the players from Georgia, Georgia

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Tech.

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So it's, you really start to connect to why I've got to put that on my calendar.

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As well as bringing in the Cocoa golfs and these WTA players that also gives another

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look because more than half of our players at play, Alta are women and you got to talk

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about fashion, you got to talk about team, you got to talk about how to win more matches.

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Because this place doesn't like to lose.

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They like to compete and it's just a great place.

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World team tennis was awesome playing down here, you know, and so I just think in the best

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in my opinion, you're going to see something very soon coming out of this place as far

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as like a top rank pro on the male or female side.

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You're seeing a lot of collegiate players coming out of here out of, you know, whether it's

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old town and the various, you know, academies and things like that, great coaching and great

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competition.

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I've got nieces and nephews.

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I mean, I had to travel honestly one way to Detroit's five hours, one way to, one way

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to Chicago is five hours, getting the van and you got to, you know, after school on

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Friday and you got a match Friday night and you're just still trying to find your legs in

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the first set getting out of the van and you're playing now.

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I mean, my, my family, they play in Macon, they play in Rome, they play in Atlanta and there's

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a, you don't have to go anywhere.

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You stay right here and get your butt kicked and get better and I mean, there's players

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going to Notre Dame, there's players going to Georgia, there's players going to, you

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know, Texas schools all over the place.

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They'll just be, I think in the next five to 10 years, you're going to see someone really

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take off and do some special things at majors.

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So how do you, you know, I told Sean, we did the team loop last summer.

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Yeah.

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And the effort you put in and I called Miss Patricia that night and I said, just watch

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him tomorrow.

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He's going to be sore.

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I said, we were out there in the heat for how many hours and I said, everybody else is

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done and then he goes on puts on a serving exhibition and allows everybody to return his serve,

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lefty and righty.

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I was like, I've never seen anything like, I'm not young anymore.

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No, I'm not going to speak for you, but I'm older than you.

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So I'm like, he's going to be sore tomorrow.

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I said, so please watch him.

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But how do you instill that sense of fight and not as a coach, much lower level, of course.

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But like you said, the, the building, the bricks, chopping the wood, that fact that everything's

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going to have a purpose.

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And I think that more than anything, because certainly can't talk about facilities.

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Kids here got the greatest facilities in the world.

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How do we instill that fight when these kids get to come from so much that they don't understand

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what you're talking about?

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And when they look at you, when you say it out loud, it's the old, well, you walked up, you

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up hill five miles in a snow storm.

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We heard of it.

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Yeah.

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Well, today's athlete is different.

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I don't care where you are around the world.

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I'm blessed the last year I've been working with Coco Vanderwaite, over a top 10 player in

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the world.

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She's like, I think she's 150 now.

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She just dropped a bunch of points.

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But we played all the majors last year.

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We played Australia this year.

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So I, I really am jacked up because I've been doing the TV since 94 with ESPN.

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So that's a different type of access and a different type of intensity, the, the long days

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and things.

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I'm really not invested when you start when you're playing and the next thing, the closest

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thing the playing at that level is coaching because there's even more pressure on the coach

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I find because you have, you can coach now.

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You're able to talk to them where they're on your side of the court or you can give signals

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when they're on the other side of the court, but it's still really tough because you can't

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really say that much.

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They're too far away.

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It's not like you're sitting on the bench with them.

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And what I've learned is that this player, no matter where they're from in the world,

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you got to meet them where they are.

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I think back in the day, there was a, whether right or wrong, you did what your teachers told

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you to do.

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You did what your parents told you to do.

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Your coaches that they told you to run, you ran and you just trusted or I don't know if

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you even trusted, you just did it.

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And when.

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For me at least when I clicked in the harder I work, the better I get when I learn that,

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that my secret weapon wasn't that I had a big forehand or that I could serve 130 miles

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an hour with both hands or anything like that.

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The secret weapon was holy kind of like if I work as hard as I get better, the harder I

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work that little like the light went off whenever that was in my teenage years.

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And like until then I was, you know, you lose focus and you wander.

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And so today's athlete, how can I as a coach connect with this generation and what I say is

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meet them where they are and then try to move the needle.

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So is it their brand?

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Is it their social media thing?

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Is it there?

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Whatever that is, their talent can get them only so far.

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And then you've got to sit down and negotiate that next, you know, chop of the wood that you

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just got to do it and understand, listen, it's just there's a maturity thing.

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Some people get it, some people don't.

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Agacy got it in his 30s.

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He was just really, really talented and then he found a love for the sport in his 30s and

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understanding of the magic of competing and losing and getting better and winning and

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sacrificing all that stuff.

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Some people have it from the start, from the jump like Raphael Nadal.

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That dude is a killer.

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And like maybe a curious never gets it.

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We don't know, but they have tennis and whether it's the juniors I see wherever they are, they

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have tennis kind of where they have it.

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And if the parent wants it more than they do, it's not going to work.

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If the coach wants it more, just because the kid is talented, does it mean they're going

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to reach full potential?

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Whatever that is, the kid has to do their part and that's 50% of it.

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I've coached in college at Syracuse University for eight years.

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I know, producing that level to the next level, which is you got to college.

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Now let's get you world ranked.

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And so half the players I worked with out of 42, we got 21 WTA ranked and that was not

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easy.

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I'm not getting blue chips.

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I'm not getting kids out of Atlanta that go to Georgia or to Florida.

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I'm getting kids that are multiple sport athletes that are four star tennis recruiting

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.net.

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There's a magic in that too because they haven't had a lot of success and you can have a lot

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of input and they'll grab onto it because they've lost a lot.

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They've taken a lot of shots to the head.

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You take some blue chip that yeah, I could go to Florida, could go to Georgia.

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I'm kind of, I've already made it.

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That's another challenge.

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And so your ability to trick both of them into working harder, buying into the harder

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I work, the better I get.

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And the bottom line is if you don't love it, love all of it, love not only the winning,

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but love the losing and the losing tells you you've got to get better.

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And then, and then for me, it's like it was always that rocket fuel that said, okay, I'm

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not doing enough and meet them if they, you've got to be able to like, listen, if they're

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not, you know, reaching their part of the deal, they're 50%.

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They're part of it.

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Sit them down, have a mature conversation.

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They just want to be communicated with in my opinion when they're acting up or they're

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not, they're having a bad day.

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Take a timeout, take it, you know, take a little two minute, timeout and say, okay, what's

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up today?

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There'd be stuff in school.

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There are a lot of pressures on these kids that we never faced.

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They read their replies.

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These pros, I'm watching Francis T.O. for last week, we're at the US Clay Courts in Houston.

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These dude played the, probably the best match I'd ever seen.

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He played second round, bone crush this guy, bone crushed him.

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And it's unclaimed.

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He doesn't have a, Francis doesn't have a great Clay Courts record, but he wins, ends up

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winning this tournament.

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As soon as he shakes hands, he goes, right, so his phone checks his phone.

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That's very important to these guys.

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And I don't care how much the older generation is trying to say it's nothing but a distraction.

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I'm saying it's a reality.

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How can we work with that kind of athlete to get to the next level?

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Wayne Ferrerra, who's been working with Francis T.O. for the last few years, it's been a

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process.

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He's always talked about it's a process.

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Francis, we're stretching now for the next 30 minutes, no phone.

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You know what I mean?

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But Francis is an adult now.

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He's in his mid-twenties.

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You can say that to some, he was an adult.

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That's what they do for a living.

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He's got big contracts with Nike and Yannick's in other places.

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He's got his agent now is Serena Williams is old agent.

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And so he's playing big boy stuff now.

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But with juniors, sometimes they don't understand.

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Maybe their things are being taken away from them.

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Maybe their sacrifice is like, I'm missing out on everything because I'm seeing on my phone,

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my friends are having fun here and they're going to this party, that party.

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You've got to somehow find to connect them to the love of the sport and how beautiful

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this sport is by working hard and continuing to improve because if they shut off, you'll

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never get them.

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As soon as they're done, because they get cheated every weekend, someone changes the score,

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some weird parent.

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It's the hardest sport in the world.

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I honestly have teared up watching kids at junior tournaments, walk with their bags and

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walk with their water jugs and they're walking out there with their opponent.

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No empire, no scorekeeper, no coach.

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Every other sport gets that.

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Tennis is so far behind because traditionally we've never done it.

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Why would you put your kid out there in that environment?

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Now I truly believe there should be coaching, whether it's you pay for a coach, you don't

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have a coach, a parent, should be or a fellow competitor, a buddy.

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So it's on the court, you know, have some fun, whatever.

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You go through the courses, you get certified to be able to on court person.

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And if you act like a knucklehead, they're roving on park and you're out tennis parent,

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a you're out coach, you know, if something like another sports, like they do in, you know,

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little league baseball or football, you know, parents have are very much involved in the

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coaching process and they don't behave.

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They're out.

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I think tennis in our sport, we are so far behind every other sport because a kid, I know

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this because two of my nephews that were very talented, love to play.

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They got sick of being cheated every single weekend, every weekend.

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What am I doing it for?

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I'd rather go ride my jerk bike.

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I'd rather go hang out with my friends because this stinks.

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I work all, I work hard after school before school and I get there and it's not even a

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fair fight.

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So to be able to manipulate that or work with that as a coach that you've got to listen,

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a great coach is a listener, a great listener because they're showing you through their body

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language, they're showing you through their, their, their words, maybe they'll like to practice,

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maybe they're ball pickups, things, maybe they're going to the bathroom too many times, they're

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telling you, I don't want to do this.

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Okay, what can we do?

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Can we shorten up?

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You know, they're the, my brother liked to play games to 11.

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Okay, you don't want to go 100 balls cross court, but we'll play games to 11 and he loved

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it.

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So let's find out, you know, what kind of practice partner they're out.

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So that's, that's a magic in coaching is trying to figure out every little combination

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of every kid you have.

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And you know, and you don't like, I see Bobby Don, his head, but you're talking, and I,

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I would take you to different direction.

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You say, why would you do that to your kid and put them out there on your own?

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And I, my first thought is, would you like to short answer or the long answer?

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Because I come at it from the point of view of, I look at that 10 year old whose bag is

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as big as he is and he works his way through all the adults.

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Excuse me, sir.

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Excuse me, man.

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Works his way up, makes his way up to that desk and says, hello, excuse me.

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My name is Sean and I need to check in for my tennis match.

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Yeah.

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I think that is badass.

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Yeah, no, it's great.

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It's great.

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I just, I just seen the burnout because remember now, you know, especially at the pros,

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I mean, I, seems to fight tech.

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This girl's worth whatever $100 million.

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She's number one in the world.

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She's got future hall of everything.

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She's crying, trying to, it means that much to her, but she's, I mean, listen, there's certain

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losses that, that are going to make you cry, that, as competitors, we all do.

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But the United Cup, before the Australian is not one of them.

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And to me, when you see the electrode stuck to your forehead because your mental coach,

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I mean, in front of everybody else, I mean, I look at this like I would do anything to

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play her.

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I would be in, I would have rental space in that, in that cranium of hers and maybe a Polish

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penthouse.

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I don't know, maybe like a, like a walk in closet, I would have so much rental space in her

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headspace by if she's that fragile, I can get right in there as a competitor.

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I can work that over that.

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That's how good she's got to be even in spite of being that fragile.

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That's what I'm saying.

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That's how good she is.

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But you take someone like, let's say Jesse Pagula, who doesn't need the money.

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You're talking about, you know, all these people with me, she just loves it.

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She's the only one that I see a cocoa goff too that will go and scout their opponents.

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Most of the time the coaches do it.

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They'll sit where the coach and they will scout together.

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They will after every practice, every match before press conference, they will, they will

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hit practice serves.

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That's her weakest, their seconds, Pagula's weakest shot is their second serve.

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She practices it every day.

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And then after at every tournament for the most part, even majors, she plays doubles.

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Same with cocoa goff.

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Who are the biggest risers in our sport?

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Coco goff and Jesse Pagula.

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And why did they do, they do, they put in the work, they play the dubs and they don't want

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to.

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They just, they know, they listen to the very coachable.

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And it's, you're right, it's bad ass.

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The CDs kids walk up there, but there's so much doubt.

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There's so much, there's so much nerves.

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And the burnout factor is huge.

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And I see it at the pro level, see it at the college level.

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I don't even name the name, a dear friend of mine that I grew up playing in juniors

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college in pros, his daughter is elite.

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And I'm watching video and she's screaming how much she hates tennis.

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And she's in a pro event.

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And she's screaming and it's like, man, like get her off the court.

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Just get her off the court.

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Let's go to a movie.

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Let's, you know, let's go grab a pizza or something like that.

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Like let's talk this out because this, it doesn't, it's a 15,000.

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Like this is the lowest level that you can play.

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If you really gonna do it, if you're feeling this way here, the pressure is even more the

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higher you get.

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The pressure is more and more.

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So I just, we gotta listen to our players and we gotta love them and we gotta try to understand

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them because it's a lonely game and it's filled with pressure and I hate to see these kids

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that burned out and never want to play again.

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And I think the thoughts, I saw that.

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I think it was over 70% of college players, D1, never swing another tennis racket after

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the last ball struck of playing college.

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All that work, all that sacrifice, they are so good.

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They are so good and they are done with it.

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Why is that?

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I think what, let's do a study on that.

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Let's really deep dive in that.

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And so many is we, we, we just see all this player got burned out and they just get kind

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of pushed aside and we just keep marching forward.

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And I think we, there's a lot of learning we can do, growth we can do by figuring out,

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by talking to players that did lose it and lost it for a while and what happened here

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and what would you have done differently?

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Were you, did we listen to you?

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I just think we have to do a lot more and find out how we can stop the burn out factor

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and these kids are getting scholarships and get to play D1, you know.

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There's a lot of love.

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High school tennis is greatness area.

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I've got these is in nephews that are playing high school tennis.

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It's so much fun getting in the bus and with kids that are going to play club tennis or

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college scholarship tennis at the next level or maybe not, but maybe one day they'll come

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back and play Alta.

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You never know.

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This is a sport for a lifetime.

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Well, there you have it.

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You want to thank rejuvenate.com for use of the studio and be sure to hit that follow button.

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For more tennis related content, you can go to Atlanta tennispodcast.com and while you're

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there, check out our calendar of tennis events, deals on equipment, apparel and more.

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And you should feel good knowing that shopping at Let's Go Tennis.com helps support this show.

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You can also donate directly using links in the show notes.

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And with that, we're out.

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See you next time.

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