The Idea Behind The Blog

The idea of creating a blog came to me when I first sat down with my good friend Barry King (former pro/ Davis Cup player-retired July ’11) a few months back when we were chatting about our lives, tennis, women, the future etc.

One thing that really struck us both was how little we knew about the pro tour before going on it. We just didn’t understand the whole thing! The system, the lifestyle, the travel, the day-to-day grind, dealing with injuries, the financial problems, the constant setbacks, the emotional highs and lows of the sport, the stress, the buzz…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Barry King in action against Tunisia ’11 ©inpho

Neither of us had much guidance while we were growing up as to what life on the Futures/Challenger Tour would be like, I was hearing everything through people who hadn’t even played on the tour and who hadn’t been in the thick of it day in day out. All I saw on TV was Andre Agassi ripping forehands left, right and centre on Arthur Ashe Arena and Tim Henman  moving like a cat on the green grass at Wimbledon. I had big dreams and I just presumed growing up that if I worked hard enough,  I would make it there too. BIG Mistake. Hard work is absolutely key but there’s a lot more to it.

If we are to produce great tennis players in Ireland, I think it’s important for the younger generation of Irish tennis players to have someone with the experience to learn from.  Sharing my experiences on the tour may not improve these young athletes as players, but at least it gives them a better idea of the tour and what it’s like to be a professional tennis player.  I’m sure there are Irish junior players out there who love tennis and would love to be professional tennis players, but I’m not convinced they know how to get there. It is up to their coaches to help them, guide them and lead them forward.

Conor Niland in Wimbledon ’11

We were very lucky to have someone like Conor Niland qualify into two Grand Slams in a row last year and show the Irish public that it is possible to make it to the top.  It was inspiring to watch him play in Wimbledon and go toe to toe with a top 50 player to only just miss out on a chance to play Roger Federer. I’m sure this has inspired a lot of kids around the country and has given them the belief that it can be done. That’s a huge step forward for Irish tennis as Belief itself is half the battle.

I suppose the core reason why I have created this blog is because I want to see Irish tennis improve. I’d love to see more Irish tennis players play the Grand Slams and see more Irish tennis players on the pro tour.  Who wouldn’t want to see this? I know a lot of the top Irish pros feel the same way.

Here are some questions I have regarding Irish tennis. What do you think?

1. Is tennis being promoted well enough in Ireland to play the game?

2. Are there enough high level tennis coaches in Ireland?

3. Is there enough leadership in our tennis culture?

4.  Is there enough funding for our professional players?

5.  Does tennis get enough media exposure in Ireland?

6. Are we doing everything in our control to produce great tennis players?

7. Why haven’t we built indoor clay courts the way the French have?

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About James Mc Gee

Professional Tennis Player on ATP World Tour and Irish Davis Cup Player
This entry was posted in Irish Tennis and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to The Idea Behind The Blog

  1. Sara says:

    Well written James, you’ve been on the road since you were what 14? and I’ve often wondered what your unconventional life must be like, so looking forward to reading more!

  2. Steve says:

    Good work James.

    Definitely seems to be a lack of leadership.

    With the buzz around Niland last summer it would have been a perfect opportunity to attract the level of sponsorship required to fund a Challenger event again in Dublin.

    Two go from 2 Futures and 1 Challenger to a single Futures in the space of a couple of years just isn’t good enough. You can blame some of it on the recession but it seems someone took their eye off the ball.

    I’m not privy to what goes on behind the scenes so maybe efforts were made. I dunno.

  3. Padraic says:

    Practically the answer to all those questions is no unfortunately…I’m 18 years old and would love to play for a tennis club, but the nearest club to me is too far a trek and I’m stuck hitting a tennis ball against a wall. Tennis is a growing sport (You can see it in my school) but most people still consider it a “posh sport” and I can’t see how haha

  4. richie says:

    well said fella! keep up the good work

  5. Olivier says:

    Love the idea James. Looking forward to read next articles. Home injury is going better… We miss you! Home to see you at least one More Time this year. Olivier

  6. InterestedinIrishTennis says:

    James,

    Firstly belated congratulations for the unbelievable win by you and the team in Egypt and yourself and other Irish players in the Futures, this is all great stuff….
    I have an interest in how Ireland is going to build on this and what needs to be done. I dont know for sure but the national academy seem to be paying off, but I have some questions for you and indirectly Tennis Ireland.
    Are we pursuing or do we need a long term major sponsor (like RSA in the cricket or Aegon in LTA) ? If so, I’m wondering how is this going ? If not, what is blocking it ?

    Although everybody expects higher costs for individual sports such as tennis versus team sports, will a sponsor give us more subsidies to the long term cost of developing players while also open the sport up to less advantaged juniors who don’t have thousands per year to spend.

    Yes I think we need indoor clay courts as you say, a lot of people say the slow court is the best way to learn for long rallies needing lots of concentration making you physically and mentally in good shape for the faster surfaces. Is there any movement in this area ?

    While completely understanding the huge amount of work and talent required, how close are we to having a man and a woman in the top 100 players ?

    Is there anything specific that continental European countries do in their coaching and strategies that is enabling many French, Russians, Serbians, Spanish to break so many players into the top say 150 ? I realise we have a smaller population and perhaps in fairness should compare ourselves to Norway, New Zealand (but note Belgium has only c. twice our population.)

    Like other sports that have moved on in Ireland, do we need to get more Europeans to work with our coaches? In Rugby, Football and now Cricket we seem to be making progress with a good proportion of non-Irish coaching. Maybe a better comparison is an individual sport like Golf where Ireland is very strong. Do we need more leadership ?

    Can Munster get some indoor courts, I understand there isn’t any/many? How ?
    Is our climate and the fact we are an island with associated time and travel expenses, is this one of the bigger issues as we can’t enter as many tournaments ?

    I was wondering what percentage of the current top 100 men and women ended up giving up regular secondary school to make it big and go to tennis-dedicated schools?

    Thanks and believe me we’re all behind you and all the men, ladies and juniors on tour !

  7. Roger says:

    Been a recreational tennis player there are a number of reasons, why ireland is a very bad tennis nation

    1- Our best athletes play gaelic football or soccer

    2- The tennis courts are terrible

    3- There is no heat training

    4- It is a sport for the rich

    5- Tennis lessons are to expensive, its like going to the doctor

    6- The quality of coaching in Ireland is terrible. How many coaches in Ireland played at a very good level or coached players on the tour???? Who regulates the jobs in the big tennis clubs in ireland????

    7- What has Tennis Ireland done to get clay courts in Ireland. They have 3 omni courts in DCU, they painted the sand red and put a bubble on top of it.

    8- There is not enough good junior players coming through the ranks.

    9- Were an island, its to expensive to travel all the time

    10- IF YOU WANT TO BE A PROFESSIONAL TENNIS PLAYER FROM IRELAND, YOU MUST MOVE OUT OF THE COUNTRY AND GET ON THE DIRT BY AGED 13 TO HAVE ANY CHANCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. john says:

    I think Roger could not have explained this any better.

    Unless Ireland has better facilities, the right courts ie. clay courts, slow hard courts to develop the consistency and physical attributes the top players in the world have we have no hope.

    On clay courts, you develop skills such as short angles, drop shots, deep angles, the ability to open up the court and go open court with next shot or the ability to go back behind the person. Physically the player will develop into a monster and a mental giant on the court from playing on the clay courts, he will have punishing rallys and will create an engine on him like a ferrari not a mini.

    The omni courts in Ireland have been the biggest down fall of Irish tennis. To put it blunt it is a slap fest out there, when your out of position there is no thought of recovery, you cannot create angles when the ball is at your shoe laces, you cannot create a good kick serve. You hit a heavy rotational ball the court will give it no action it deserves and it will just sit there like a lame duck waiting to be punished.

    Consequently, we are creating players with very bad technique, players with short swings as a result of trying to compensate for the skidding through ball on the court.

    James lets just try and accomplish one thing at a time here. If you achieved on a technical goal in a short space of time, id imagine you would be very happy.

    Lets start canvassing for clay courts now

    The only players in ireland that have a voice is you James and your buddies so speak up and lets get started on buliding these clay courts!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Great post!

    Like you, I just started a tennis blog myself, and I would like to have to advice from you guys! 🙂
    So would you please take a look at http://courtlinenews.wordpress.com/ and tell me your feedback!

    Thank you! 🙂

  10. Frankie says:

    Yes it was very good post by John.

    Has anyone ever seen an ATP or WTA match played on an omni court…

    I definitely have not seen one. Have you??? You think roger and rafa have practiced on an omni court before? They don’t even know what an omni court looks like, never mind stepping foot on one. And we expect Ireland to produce a home grown top 100 player. Not a hope. Not in a million years.

    When Ireland was printing money during the economic boom surely we could of built 6 indoor clay cts for our aspiring juniors………. The country was a wash with money and it should have been done there and the, Why did this not happen????. The chance of building a play ground never mind a clay court in todays environment will never happen.

    Anyway thought I’d share my view on this matter,

    Frankie

  11. Chuckle says:

    Frankie has got aa great point there,

    We seem to be in the dark ages of tennis. We’re fooling ourselves with the omni cts. I can’t Imagine a player going to train hitting balls around his ankles then going to hit shoulder high balls and going from rallies of 3 shots to potentially gut renching rallies of 15 shots plus. There recovery time must be beat after these rallies.

    Surely these players are not maxing there potential at all????? Are they?????

  12. Steve says:

    There doesn’t seem to any direction coming from Tennis Ireland regarding clay courts.

    I was on the board of a club in the midlands a few years ago and when I suggested we should be looking at clay options when it came to replacing our tattered omni-courts, everyone looked at me like I had 6 heads.

    If it was the stated official policy of Tennis Ireland that clay courts should be installed wherever possible, it might have been a different story.

  13. Chuckle says:

    I definitely aggree with Steve here.

    To be fair to fitzwilliam lawn tennis club they seem to be leading the way in Irish tennis. They have a lot of former Davis cup players and ex pros who are members and know about tennis and really wanted to get clay courts. To be fair to them they got 2 green clay courts and are helping out some of the top pros in Ireland with finances. They also contributed an awful lot of money to the professional tournaments held at the club in recent years.

    But I do aggree it should be tennis Ireland leading the way in this. They must be directing the clubs in court surfaces, coaching structures and potentially more tournaments for the younger generation of tennis players.

    I don’t think there are enough good juniors coming through now a days. You look at the national tournament Fitzwilliam. The standard these days is very poor indeed. It sure looks like we will be waiting a long time for some good juniors to be playing Davis cup again. Back in the day you would have 15, 16 and 17 year olds on the team. It does not seem that way now.

  14. Gareth says:

    I agree totally with Padraic’s comment above. I’m 18 too and have no chance of playing competitively at any level due to the high cost of travel as well as tennis costs such as membership and coaching. The inaccessibility of tennis resources like courts and competitions are preventing young people from playing the game at either a recreational or competitive level.

    This leads to many people choosing other sports and like Padraic I can only resort to hitting a tennis ball against a wall.

    Thanks for the blog and keep the good work up!!

  15. john says:

    I played in tennis ireland on the four indoor cts last week. It was the first time i played there. Bloody hell was it freezing in there to say the least. I borrowed a couple of balls from a young coach in there, but it was like hitting rocks over the net in there. I ended up going to the physio about my wrist the next day. Im nearly certain that it was the ‘rock like balls’ and the freezing cold temperature in tennis ireland that hurt my wrist. Surely we can get a bit of heat in there during the winter months

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