A Most Cherished Moment: I Experienced an ATP Tournament Through the Eyes of Coach!!!

Aurellian

Semi-Pro
I experienced a truly joyous, beautiful, and most cherished moment this past week: I was able to participate in an ATP tournament. I hung out in the locker room and the player’s lounge, accompanied my guy onto the court and sat in his box, and consoled him after a heartbreaking triple tie breaker defeat to the eventual finalist. The human and psychological side of the game was paramount, and If I was a betting man, the inside scoop on the drama of the tour would have paid dividends.

Intro


I observed the loneliness of life on tour, the business side of the game, and the preparation (seemingly light) that the player’s undergo. The most memorable moments were not the tennis, but the human connections temporarily formed: overlooking an American football practice and explaining the nuances of the game to the French delegation and hearing all three of them utter in succession…”brutaal…oui, quite brutaal, oui, verly brutal”, helping my favorite Italian player with his rental car, explaining US Middle East foreign policy to a Swedish player (he has quite the inquisitive mind) and having him reciprocate the sagaciousness by giving me a 90 second service tutorial during his practice time, helping my Balkan buddy avoid getting beat down by some brothas after he randomly approached them with a clumsy attempt to bum a cigarette with: “Black people smoke methanols right? Right? Can I get one from a home boy?”, and finally taking my guy to a BBQ joint and introducing them to brisket and collard greens!

High Level Tennis Up Close

This is easier to depict pictorially, but I think each player has a range and the top 10 players have a greater range than the lower players but for any given match any top 150 player can beat, or at least take a top 5 guy to 3, 4, or 5 sets. All of the players have a story about taking Fed or Nole to a final set.

Players recognize when another player is on and in the zone and give accolades accordingly. Example: I watched a Brazilian play an American and it was an amazing match. The American was half the ranking of the Brazilian and played great, but the Brazilian (who can only be described as a poor man’s Alcatraz, amazing power, explosiveness, and foot speed) simply didn’t miss. He closed out the match with a 130+ mph ace as a 5ft 11 guy. I walked into the player’s lounge after the match and saw the American who he beat in the corner sitting down on the floor alone at well after 10pm, I gave him a nod and started to walk aways when he said to me “hey man, did you see that? Whatever I did, I played good, but it didn’t work. He was getting everything back. He just didn’t miss.” As Boris would say, “Dem the breaks.” When an opponent is on, not much to do but accept fate.

I like the little guys. The Korean guy was so fast, had power, and had a beautiful game….but they just don’t have the firepower to beat the top guys. The way he interacted with his fans so civilized. After his match he gave them little speech, bowed, and took pictures with all of his fans. My sponsor demolished this small Frenchman who was a less powerful and more quirky version of Mannarino. The guy seemed to be a forehand chipper; I just don’t know how he can compete at the ATP level.

A deep reverence for the game of tennis and the history of the sport.

The Business Side….

Each player has serious autonomy over his own career. They decide were to play, if to play, who to hire as a coach (if even to have a coach, my sponsor didn’t’), when and where to practice, etc. It’s not a top down C2 paradigm in sports that I am used to. Moreover, the coaches are more like advisors and the players disregard their advice at will and money disputes are a frequent occurrence. The term “free ride” was batted about at coffee with the players voicing some envy about the guys that were (undeservingly) sponsored by a tennis federation. I think politics plays a role. Marinko told me that the top 10 guys play between 12 to 14 tournaments a year, while the guy from Chile will play 32+.

A player’s team ranges from +1 to +3. Often player’s will travel with a coach (but many don’t have one), a physio (some of them share one), and a girlfriend that manages the administrative aspects of venture. But some simply travel solo and do their own thing. Thiem had the largest contingent there with five.

It's quite lonely and isolating, maybe even sans glamorous most of the time. I don’t think it’s easy. While I am cognizant of 1%ers complaining about life when true depravation exists, it doesn’t diminish the fact that we all suffer from the full gamut of human emotions and empathy should not be qualified. Some of the players were curious about my job and there was a common and begrudging understanding when they knew I spent 110 nights in Marriott properties globally in 2019 with my job in industry. Most of the players, staff, and coaches, were surprisingly easy to talk to. None of them blew me off, save a Belarussian. Marinko is a legend and introduced me as his friend, and I was happy to get Whats apps from two or three guys asking me for little actions of assistance. My favorite was taking a 200+ ranked doubles player to his former host family in town; he attended Uni there and was happy to be home and would prefer to live in the US rather than Europe. I noticed his bag had food in it from the player’s lounge. The talent between him and a top 50 player is much less than the financial benefits and lifestyle between the two. Makes me proud to be an American that we can give and opportunities like this to kids around the world. That’s true soft power.

I think I slightly annoyed my team for helping out the other players, I didn’t compute they are all high level competitors looking for an edge, but I never helped out a direct opponent.

Some of the players work harder than others. On match day, some do a 30 minute warm up (backhands, forehands, volleys, smashes, and serves wide and T [they call the spot] a few hours before the match, and then a 30 minute players lounge active stretch before the match and they go play. Others, Gasquet comes to mind, was in the hotel gym in the am on match day the after his match he practiced with another player. WOW.

I will never talk smack about DY. I saw him on the street after failing to make the tournament as an alternate, clearly disappointed, and offered to take him to a strip club (he declined). We spoke for about five minutes about life unrelated to tennis. He was quite humble.

There is a lotta drama that lurks just beneath the surface. I am a man of confidence, but think Spanish novella.

Conclusion:

This experience was the single nicest act anyone has ever done for me as an adult. It was simply priceless. As I was driving home, I noticed tears running down my eyes. I am a hard man that has seen a lot in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and East Africa, but this experience was pure unadulterated childlike joy.

Instagram: skipping_around
 

DSH

Talk Tennis Guru
I experienced a truly joyous, beautiful, and most cherished moment this past week: I was able to participate in an ATP tournament. I hung out in the locker room and the player’s lounge, accompanied my guy onto the court and sat in his box, and consoled him after a heartbreaking triple tie breaker defeat to the eventual finalist. The human and psychological side of the game was paramount, and If I was a betting man, the inside scoop on the drama of the tour would have paid dividends.

Intro


I observed the loneliness of life on tour, the business side of the game, and the preparation (seemingly light) that the player’s undergo. The most memorable moments were not the tennis, but the human connections temporarily formed: overlooking an American football practice and explaining the nuances of the game to the French delegation and hearing all three of them utter in succession…”brutaal…oui, quite brutaal, oui, verly brutal”, helping my favorite Italian player with his rental car, explaining US Middle East foreign policy to a Swedish player (he has quite the inquisitive mind) and having him reciprocate the sagaciousness by giving me a 90 second service tutorial during his practice time, helping my Balkan buddy avoid getting beat down by some brothas after he randomly approached them with a clumsy attempt to bum a cigarette with: “Black people smoke methanols right? Right? Can I get one from a home boy?”, and finally taking my guy to a BBQ joint and introducing them to brisket and collard greens!

High Level Tennis Up Close

This is easier to depict pictorially, but I think each player has a range and the top 10 players have a greater range than the lower players but for any given match any top 150 player can beat, or at least take a top 5 guy to 3, 4, or 5 sets. All of the players have a story about taking Fed or Nole to a final set.

Players recognize when another player is on and in the zone and give accolades accordingly. Example: I watched a Brazilian play an American and it was an amazing match. The American was half the ranking of the Brazilian and played great, but the Brazilian (who can only be described as a poor man’s Alcatraz, amazing power, explosiveness, and foot speed) simply didn’t miss. He closed out the match with a 130+ mph ace as a 5ft 11 guy. I walked into the player’s lounge after the match and saw the American who he beat in the corner sitting down on the floor alone at well after 10pm, I gave him a nod and started to walk aways when he said to me “hey man, did you see that? Whatever I did, I played good, but it didn’t work. He was getting everything back. He just didn’t miss.” As Boris would say, “Dem the breaks.” When an opponent is on, not much to do but accept fate.

I like the little guys. The Korean guy was so fast, had power, and had a beautiful game….but they just don’t have the firepower to beat the top guys. The way he interacted with his fans so civilized. After his match he gave them little speech, bowed, and took pictures with all of his fans. My sponsor demolished this small Frenchman who was a less powerful and more quirky version of Mannarino. The guy seemed to be a forehand chipper; I just don’t know how he can compete at the ATP level.

A deep reverence for the game of tennis and the history of the sport.

The Business Side….

Each player has serious autonomy over his own career. They decide were to play, if to play, who to hire as a coach (if even to have a coach, my sponsor didn’t’), when and where to practice, etc. It’s not a top down C2 paradigm in sports that I am used to. Moreover, the coaches are more like advisors and the players disregard their advice at will and money disputes are a frequent occurrence. The term “free ride” was batted about at coffee with the players voicing some envy about the guys that were (undeservingly) sponsored by a tennis federation. I think politics plays a role. Marinko told me that the top 10 guys play between 12 to 14 tournaments a year, while the guy from Chile will play 32+.

A player’s team ranges from +1 to +3. Often player’s will travel with a coach (but many don’t have one), a physio (some of them share one), and a girlfriend that manages the administrative aspects of venture. But some simply travel solo and do their own thing. Thiem had the largest contingent there with five.

It's quite lonely and isolating, maybe even sans glamorous most of the time. I don’t think it’s easy. While I am cognizant of 1%ers complaining about life when true depravation exists, it doesn’t diminish the fact that we all suffer from the full gamut of human emotions and empathy should not be qualified. Some of the players were curious about my job and there was a common and begrudging understanding when they knew I spent 110 nights in Marriott properties globally in 2019 with my job in industry. Most of the players, staff, and coaches, were surprisingly easy to talk to. None of them blew me off, save a Belarussian. Marinko is a legend and introduced me as his friend, and I was happy to get Whats apps from two or three guys asking me for little actions of assistance. My favorite was taking a 200+ ranked doubles player to his former host family in town; he attended Uni there and was happy to be home and would prefer to live in the US rather than Europe. I noticed his bag had food in it from the player’s lounge. The talent between him and a top 50 player is much less than the financial benefits and lifestyle between the two. Makes me proud to be an American that we can give and opportunities like this to kids around the world. That’s true soft power.

I think I slightly annoyed my team for helping out the other players, I didn’t compute they are all high level competitors looking for an edge, but I never helped out a direct opponent.

Some of the players work harder than others. On match day, some do a 30 minute warm up (backhands, forehands, volleys, smashes, and serves wide and T [they call the spot] a few hours before the match, and then a 30 minute players lounge active stretch before the match and they go play. Others, Gasquet comes to mind, was in the hotel gym in the am on match day the after his match he practiced with another player. WOW.

I will never talk smack about DY. I saw him on the street after failing to make the tournament as an alternate, clearly disappointed, and offered to take him to a strip club (he declined). We spoke for about five minutes about life unrelated to tennis. He was quite humble.

There is a lotta drama that lurks just beneath the surface. I am a man of confidence, but think Spanish novella.

Conclusion:

This experience was the single nicest act anyone has ever done for me as an adult. It was simply priceless. As I was driving home, I noticed tears running down my eyes. I am a hard man that has seen a lot in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and East Africa, but this experience was pure unadulterated childlike joy.

Instagram: skipping_around
Great inputs, pal.
I really appreciate it!
(y)
 
While Markinko was born in Europe, he spent many of his junior years developing his tennis game here in Melbourne.

I have never met him personally. But I have heard a lot of great things about him from guys who knew him or competed against him when he was younger. The classic very tough but very fair player who loved the contest.

Marinko is one of a long line of Aussie players who could have gone a lot further than they did, if only Tennis Australia had provided them with the development and support funding they deserved rather than using Australian taxpayers' money to "buy" overseas players and label them "Australian".

I recall a match that Marinko played in England a few years back (Queens Club?). Michael Jordan was in the stand sitting behind Marinko and soon after Marinko noticed the great one he yelled out "I wanna be like Mike!" which brough a smile to Jordan's face.

Anyway, thank you for the lovely story about your experiences. Indeed, Pro. Tennis is a very tough career choice. And given the challenge it presents, it is no surprise that it is on the wane. Parents and kids have realised that team sports offer much greater opportunities and are much more family friendly.

Here in Australia, team sports like Australian Rules Football, Rugby League, Soccer, Cricket and Basketball are thriving like never before. On the other hand, tennis is in decline and will probably never recover. The last straw will be the retirement from the sport of the last of the Big 3.
 

Aurellian

Semi-Pro
While Markinko was born in Europe, he spent many of his junior years developing his tennis game here in Melbourne.

I have never met him personally. But I have heard a lot of great things about him from guys who knew him or competed against him when he was younger. The classic very tough but very fair player who loved the contest.

Marinko is one of a long line of Aussie players who could have gone a lot further than they did, if only Tennis Australia had provided them with the development and support funding they deserved rather than using Australian taxpayers' money to "buy" overseas players and label them "Australian".

I recall a match that Marinko played in England a few years back (Queens Club?). Michael Jordan was in the stand sitting behind Marinko and soon after Marinko noticed the great one he yelled out "I wanna be like Mike!" which brough a smile to Jordan's face.

Anyway, thank you for the lovely story about your experiences. Indeed, Pro. Tennis is a very tough career choice. And given the challenge it presents, it is no surprise that it is on the wane. Parents and kids have realised that team sports offer much greater opportunities and are much more family friendly.

Here in Australia, team sports like Australian Rules Football, Rugby League, Soccer, Cricket and Basketball are thriving like never before. On the other hand, tennis is in decline and will probably never recover. The last straw will be the retirement from the sport of the last of the Big 3.


Thanks to your countrymen for being such good sports! The Aussies were truly a swell bunch. I just can't express my gratitude enough. I forgot my pass one day and was stopped by security and Duckworth just quipped "Skip's with us." Really really cool. I always thought Aussies were rude and crude like Hewitt appears (the incident with James Blake has always soiled me on him), but they were very kind and welcoming. Kudea (?) has a great personality too.

Ironically, some of what you speak of was alluded to in my brief time with the team. Someone mentioned that the Aussie Tennis Federation had found a "proper Bristish" guy and have him some prominent job. This was not my baliwick, so I wasn't keyed in on the details, but something about Brits and South African trainers getting certain jobs.

RE Marinko, yeah, he told me that story about MJ. I mean he was 37 in the world. Won millions of dollars, beat some of the best players, and represented his country in the Davis cup. So you think he could have been 25 - 27? Not being flippant, but most people can never be the top 100 in anything. As you well know, a break here or there determines a win over a top 3 player.
 

beltsman

G.O.A.T.
I experienced a truly joyous, beautiful, and most cherished moment this past week: I was able to participate in an ATP tournament. I hung out in the locker room and the player’s lounge, accompanied my guy onto the court and sat in his box, and consoled him after a heartbreaking triple tie breaker defeat to the eventual finalist. The human and psychological side of the game was paramount, and If I was a betting man, the inside scoop on the drama of the tour would have paid dividends.

Intro


I observed the loneliness of life on tour, the business side of the game, and the preparation (seemingly light) that the player’s undergo. The most memorable moments were not the tennis, but the human connections temporarily formed: overlooking an American football practice and explaining the nuances of the game to the French delegation and hearing all three of them utter in succession…”brutaal…oui, quite brutaal, oui, verly brutal”, helping my favorite Italian player with his rental car, explaining US Middle East foreign policy to a Swedish player (he has quite the inquisitive mind) and having him reciprocate the sagaciousness by giving me a 90 second service tutorial during his practice time, helping my Balkan buddy avoid getting beat down by some brothas after he randomly approached them with a clumsy attempt to bum a cigarette with: “Black people smoke methanols right? Right? Can I get one from a home boy?”, and finally taking my guy to a BBQ joint and introducing them to brisket and collard greens!

High Level Tennis Up Close

This is easier to depict pictorially, but I think each player has a range and the top 10 players have a greater range than the lower players but for any given match any top 150 player can beat, or at least take a top 5 guy to 3, 4, or 5 sets. All of the players have a story about taking Fed or Nole to a final set.

Players recognize when another player is on and in the zone and give accolades accordingly. Example: I watched a Brazilian play an American and it was an amazing match. The American was half the ranking of the Brazilian and played great, but the Brazilian (who can only be described as a poor man’s Alcatraz, amazing power, explosiveness, and foot speed) simply didn’t miss. He closed out the match with a 130+ mph ace as a 5ft 11 guy. I walked into the player’s lounge after the match and saw the American who he beat in the corner sitting down on the floor alone at well after 10pm, I gave him a nod and started to walk aways when he said to me “hey man, did you see that? Whatever I did, I played good, but it didn’t work. He was getting everything back. He just didn’t miss.” As Boris would say, “Dem the breaks.” When an opponent is on, not much to do but accept fate.

I like the little guys. The Korean guy was so fast, had power, and had a beautiful game….but they just don’t have the firepower to beat the top guys. The way he interacted with his fans so civilized. After his match he gave them little speech, bowed, and took pictures with all of his fans. My sponsor demolished this small Frenchman who was a less powerful and more quirky version of Mannarino. The guy seemed to be a forehand chipper; I just don’t know how he can compete at the ATP level.

A deep reverence for the game of tennis and the history of the sport.

The Business Side….

Each player has serious autonomy over his own career. They decide were to play, if to play, who to hire as a coach (if even to have a coach, my sponsor didn’t’), when and where to practice, etc. It’s not a top down C2 paradigm in sports that I am used to. Moreover, the coaches are more like advisors and the players disregard their advice at will and money disputes are a frequent occurrence. The term “free ride” was batted about at coffee with the players voicing some envy about the guys that were (undeservingly) sponsored by a tennis federation. I think politics plays a role. Marinko told me that the top 10 guys play between 12 to 14 tournaments a year, while the guy from Chile will play 32+.

A player’s team ranges from +1 to +3. Often player’s will travel with a coach (but many don’t have one), a physio (some of them share one), and a girlfriend that manages the administrative aspects of venture. But some simply travel solo and do their own thing. Thiem had the largest contingent there with five.

It's quite lonely and isolating, maybe even sans glamorous most of the time. I don’t think it’s easy. While I am cognizant of 1%ers complaining about life when true depravation exists, it doesn’t diminish the fact that we all suffer from the full gamut of human emotions and empathy should not be qualified. Some of the players were curious about my job and there was a common and begrudging understanding when they knew I spent 110 nights in Marriott properties globally in 2019 with my job in industry. Most of the players, staff, and coaches, were surprisingly easy to talk to. None of them blew me off, save a Belarussian. Marinko is a legend and introduced me as his friend, and I was happy to get Whats apps from two or three guys asking me for little actions of assistance. My favorite was taking a 200+ ranked doubles player to his former host family in town; he attended Uni there and was happy to be home and would prefer to live in the US rather than Europe. I noticed his bag had food in it from the player’s lounge. The talent between him and a top 50 player is much less than the financial benefits and lifestyle between the two. Makes me proud to be an American that we can give and opportunities like this to kids around the world. That’s true soft power.

I think I slightly annoyed my team for helping out the other players, I didn’t compute they are all high level competitors looking for an edge, but I never helped out a direct opponent.

Some of the players work harder than others. On match day, some do a 30 minute warm up (backhands, forehands, volleys, smashes, and serves wide and T [they call the spot] a few hours before the match, and then a 30 minute players lounge active stretch before the match and they go play. Others, Gasquet comes to mind, was in the hotel gym in the am on match day the after his match he practiced with another player. WOW.

I will never talk smack about DY. I saw him on the street after failing to make the tournament as an alternate, clearly disappointed, and offered to take him to a strip club (he declined). We spoke for about five minutes about life unrelated to tennis. He was quite humble.

There is a lotta drama that lurks just beneath the surface. I am a man of confidence, but think Spanish novella.

Conclusion:

This experience was the single nicest act anyone has ever done for me as an adult. It was simply priceless. As I was driving home, I noticed tears running down my eyes. I am a hard man that has seen a lot in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and East Africa, but this experience was pure unadulterated childlike joy.

Instagram: skipping_around

A strip club? Dude come on...
 

Aurellian

Semi-Pro
Why should someone need to be gay when he declines going to a strip club? I would say the whole atmosphere in such a club only attracts a minority. I would never even go near a location where a mass of primitive drunken guys drool over women for their looks while treating them as mere objects and making sexist comments. Even as a teenager I would have found that idea filthy and not alluring in the slightest.

Wow, I post a tome about an ATP once in a lifetime experience and all you can do is to find five words that offend you to express outrage. The woke never stops. Dont you find anything else of interest to comment upon?

Why not commemt upon the more salient point: how some players travel to tounamments as alternates on their own dime and never get to play. I mean that is harsh.
 

ChrisRF

Legend
Wow, I post a tome about an ATP once in a lifetime experience and all you can do is to find five words that offend you to express outrage. The woke never stops. Dont you find anything else of interest to comment upon?

Why not commemt upon the more salient point: how some players travel to tounamments as alternates on their own dime and never get to play. I mean that is harsh.
It's absolutely not against your report, which was really interesting. It was just an answer to the assumption that he's likely gay if he declines an offer to a strip club, which is absurd (but of course it wasn't from you).

As a fun fact, I never saw someone accepting when being offered to go to a strip club. However, I had a feeling some would have liked to go but didn't want to admit it. ;)
 

Aurellian

Semi-Pro
It's absolutely not against your report, which was really interesting. It was just an answer to the assumption that he's likely gay if he declines an offer to a strip club, which is absurd (but of course it wasn't from you).

As a fun fact, I never saw someone accepting when being offered to go to a strip club. However, I had a feeling some would have liked to go but didn't want to admit it. ;)

Understand Chris. No problem. I think Euros and Sud Americanos may be less hung up on this stuff than Americans are. Much of Europe (Aussie) and Sud America leglaizes much more, so they are less judgey.

But I get your point, it's a bit boorish and not everyone's cup of tea. But places like Magic City in Atl are unique American cultural experiences.
 
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