Re: Brad Gilbert!
Here's an article that was just in the Jerusalem Post. I meant to post it in the Andy Articles thread but I forgot and this reminded me. So I guess I'll post it here.
Brad Gilbert talks with 'Post' about Israel, tennis, Andy, and Andre
By STUART CHELIN AND RICKY JACOBS
Over the past two years Andy Roddick has completed a difficult transformation from promising upstart to one of the top tennis players in the world.
A key part of his transformation was inspired by the "motivator," Roddick's Jewish coach Brad Gilbert.
Gilbert, a top player in the 1980s, who won 20 career titles, including Tel Aviv in 1985, 1986, and 1988, found his calling as a coach after he retired from playing. He coached Andre Agassi for nine years and was instrumental in his career rejuvenation from 1998 onwards.
Recently, he has coached Andy Roddick to a US Open title, a Wimbledon final, and to the top of the men's game.
Over the weekend, while Roddick was carving his way through the Masters Series Canada event on his way to a showdown in the final with Roger Federer, Gilbert, the world's most successful tennis coach of the past decade, took some time out of his busy schedule to talk to The Jerusalem Post about Israel, tennis, Andre, and Andy.
Gilbert, who says that his decision to play in the Maccabiah Games and for many years at the Tel Aviv Open resulted from a combination of his strong sense of Jewish identity, his friends in Israel, and his high regard for the tournament organizer. "It's a little sad that they don't have any tennis there anymore," he said.
Would the major players come to play in Israel if a suitable event could be organized?
"No. Unfortunately, its not a great time in the Middle East right now. I think the guys would be nervous," he said. "The National Tennis Center there, in Ramat Hasharon, is a nice center," he added.
Gilbert is a dyed-in-the-wool Californian whose family, on both sides, immigrated to the US over 100 years ago. Though he has never considered making aliya, he did say that Israel "is a great place. I enjoyed going every time I was there."
Despite that, he has not been back since he last played in Tel Aviv in 1994. Would he go now?
"Not until things are a little bit settled. But as soon as I felt like things were settled, I would take my whole family," he said.
"I have friends [in Israel]. I feel for what's going on there," he added.
Asked if it is important that there is a Jewish homeland, he answered "Yeah. I'm sure every Jew feels [that] sense. My father does all sorts of work for different Israeli charities."
Briefly referencing the political situation in the Middle East, Gilbert remarked "I feel for everybody in any situation where there is conflict. I can't believe that in this day and age we can't work conflicts out."
Moving on to tennis, Gilbert says he's been lucky to coach Agassi and Roddick, not the other way around.
"They have unbelievable God-given talent and I have been very fortunate to be with two guys who are so talented," he said.
"They are both incredibly competitive. They are both incredible people persons. People like to be around them. They are fun people. But their games couldn't be any [more] different."
In terms of his coaching philosophy, Gilbert explains, "You work with each player's strengths and individualities. You don't try and mold anybody. You try and work with what they have."
Gilbert intimated that he doesn't feel like he is a "guru," but has just been lucky to "be along for the ride" with two incredibly gifted players.
Regarding Roddick, he said "I like to think that even if I wasn't there, someone else would have got it out of him, because he is incredibly talented."
What did he learn from his many years with Agassi?
"No matter what happened in the past, it don't matter anymore. It ain't coming back. All you can think about is what's happening right now, and you can make the future...
"Tennis is methodical. It's over the long haul. There's no magic pill. It's all about hard work. If there was a magic pill, I'd give it to myself. It's about hard work. Its about discipline. It's about talent. All the different components, and you put it together and you get something special."
Hopefully, Gilbert will keep putting together players' components over the years to come, because the result has been something very special for tennis fans.