Chris Lewis' run at Wimbledon was huge news in NZ for sure. I watched it, although perhaps delayed coverage the next day. I don't remember.
Regarding Brett Steven - he had a respectable career but it was an anomaly for NZ tennis back then. He did have a great run but was plainly too undergunned to be a consistently top player and who didn't realise this until it was too late to make major changes to his game.
Like too many NZers, and indeed top local players all around the world, Steven's dominance of the local scene masked the fact that he was nothing in the bigger scheme of things. NZ players in general didn't train hard or smart enough in their formative years - much of this the result of an rubbish tennis system in New Zealand at the time which was run by people who generally had their own self-preservation at heart and weren't up to the task (talking about Jeff Simpson in particular in case people know of him). Whether this was arrogance or incompetence the key people clutched to their jobs for about 5-10 years too long. The legacy of NZ tennis' coaching system from the late 80s to the 90s was to see the best talent get basically nowhere once they left the junior game to become coaches. NZ had plenty of top junior talent but basically none managed to transition to the senior level.
NZ actually did have some very good coaches and Steven - a good case in point - is an example of someone who eventually pulled things together. After a period of stagnation he went off and got coaching advice elsewhere (and probably a bit of some soul searching) which helped him refocus himself into the areas he needed to work on - mainly that he was a pusher without any weapons other than a good net presence. He improved his serve a little and focussed on a dedicated net-rusher gameplan - which worked enough so that he shot up the rankings with some really respectable wins over a couple of years period. He was still far from a potential ten 10 player but, on his day, he was consistent enough to make his game stick.
His notable success came with an Aussie Open quaterfinal run with a win over Thomas Muster. Other wins elsewhere included over Sampras, Lendl (old man Lendl though), Becker and Agassi... he seemed to sometimes do well against big hitters - I think because he knew he couldn't rally with them so went for winners of most second serves he faced. When you do it enough you'll have some days when it works.
Last edited by Bobby Jr : 12-11-2012 at 03:52 PM.