Tennis Childhood Romanian style from Andrei Pavel [Archive] - MensTennisForums.com

Tennis Childhood Romanian style from Andrei Pavel

Action Jackson
12-17-2003, 10:51 AM
This was taken from Tarango's old site Tennis Wizard, which doesn't exist anymore.


A Tennis Upbringing
By Jeff Tarango and Andrei Pavel

If you think that the tennis learning environment is grueling and difficult, read about this learning environment and see how hard it is in other parts of the world.

Andrei Pavel grew up in Romania at a time when Eastern Europe was dominated by a Communist government and it's philosophies of strict discipline and social policies of the State. Recently, Andrei started telling me a story about one of his youth's experiences. He said: We (Romania) had so many children that were interested in tennis and so many were very good and would have been great players, if the system would have allowed it."

Sound familiar? He continued: “there were 10 to 15 thousand children in the first camp of every season. They would line up and each would hit a shot and move to the back of the line. Once they got to the back of the line, they were told to go home. The coaches singled out what they thought were the best children until there were only 20 to 30 children left."

Wow!! Talk about the importance of making a good first impression.
After this minor adjustment in the natural order of the screening process, the lessons or season of lessons would start. Andrei continued by explaining how his best friend always had to go in front of him. When running, he would push himself to the limit to make sure he finished in front of Andrei. No matter where they went or what they were doing, his friend so badly wanted to be better than Andrei Pavel. He would do anything to stay ahead of Andrei or he felt a responsibility to always stay a step or three ahead of him. This ambition to be the best is different for everyone, but this was his motivation.

Practice consisted of one line with the child in front playing a rally with the instructor. Then, going to the end of the line and waiting the next turn. The tennis court was a parquet floor like a basketball gymnasium and was very fast. We are talking "lightning fast". What did Andrei's friend discover? Going first is not always the best idea. He missed the first ball and was told to advance to the net. The instructor came to the net to speak to him, or so they thought. Upon reaching the net, the instructor forehanded Andrei's friends face, then swiftly backhanded him, forehand and backhand again. Four cracks to the head. The instructor said: "No one misses the first ball or they get the same". Andrei said: "Of course, I didn't miss the first ball, but talk about pressure, that's pressure."

The next time his friend went to rally with the instructor, he missed the first ball... again. Wham!!, four smacks to the head, face, whatever. Ouch!!. Now you won't believe this, but the next time, Andrei's friend missed the first ball again... and four more smacks to the head. He was now black and blue. Adding insult to injury, when they were done with the practice, they went over to their parents to go home and guess what happened. The father of Andrei’s friend also started hitting his son on the head. Yelling, "Why did you keep missing the first ball? Andrei never missed one ball. What's the matter with you?" ... boom, boom, boom, boom!

The moral of the story is: Don't miss the first ball! Got it?

Now in today’s day and age we feel that parents and instructors should be reprimanded and prosecuted for striking a child on the tennis court. But, in Andrei's day in Romania, the issue of abuse was one of the least of ones worries. Instructors had their positions in society for a reason and their authority was not to be questioned. Andrei said: "Without this strict disciplinary attitude, which is obviously over the threshold of behaviour, the children would not have had the concentration spans or discipline to listen and learn at the incredibly fast rate that a child needs to learn in order to become a top world contender".

Obviously there are other methods that can be used to learn the principles of discipline and concentration. The proven best tennis instructors need to be given a sort of "Carte Blanche" about how they train and mentally form a child into a competitive tennis player.

In the United States, Harry Hopman and Robert Lansdorp used this tough concept to instill an “overdrive mechanism” into their top-flight players. Both coaches had critics who said their methods were “too harsh” or “a child shouldn’t be subjected to their harsh criticism, discipline and training in order to be a champion” But no one, and I mean no one, can argue with these two coaches success rates for developing world class tennis players.

Life is never easy for those who choose to attain a level of excellence in some chosen field, but the game of tennis is easy and that is why the best performers are those who push themselves hardest (or are lovingly persuaded) and can discipline themselves to follow the necessary difficult regimen required to be one of the best.

That is why a child should not be led to believe that life is easy just because they have the means and desire to play tennis and have countless instruction. The “real world” ideas of hard work, discipline, grinding, fighting for a steak, earning a place, climbing the ladder, can all be learned in the “glamorous” world of tennis.

In fact, players that are the most successful gradually learn and understand how tough the world can be and are willing to endure the “grind” in order to reap the rewards. The child must learn to recognize that to be one of the best that they can, and must push themselves beyond the normal rationale. They must be determined. Without this cognitive recognition a parent can coax, yell at the child, or can pay forever to have a coach blow wind in their sails but nothing will come of it except hot air.

This self recognition is not easily taught. The list is three miles long of children that had the talent but never made the grade. The list of coaches that tell parents that they can develop a champion are just as long. The ATP and WTA are filled with good professional players and coaches. But generally, year after year the players with the talent and the best coaching always seem to be on top.

So you say there must be more to the puzzle than just this article’s motif: “If all it takes is hard work, every donkey would be in the Kentucky Derby.”

Jazzy
12-17-2003, 10:58 AM
awww, so long :sad: i tried 2 read it all!! :sad:

tennischick
12-18-2003, 03:52 AM
source? :confused:

so this is why bottomfeeders become bottomfeeders...:o

anyone remember who Harry Hopman and Robert Lansdorp coached on the ATP side of the tour? recognise the names but i can't remember the students.

Action Jackson
12-18-2003, 04:15 AM
Posted by tennischick
source?

What would you like to know about the source?

anyone remember who Harry Hopman and Robert Lansdorp coached on the ATP side of the tour? recognise the names but i can't remember the students.


Here is a little bit of history about Hopman. The Hopman influence on Australian tennis - and the world scene, for that matter - has been enormous. He was recognised as one of the game's outstanding coaches, guiding many of the Australia's best to champion status. Names such as Frank Sedgman, Lew Hoad, Ken Rosewall, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, Ashley Cooper, Neale Fraser and John Newcombe from bygone eras owe a lot to the master.

Even though Mr Hopman transferred his coaching establishment to Florida in the 1970's, his influence continued and latter-day stars to come under his guidance were John McEnroe, the late Vitas Gerulaitis, Andrea Jaeger and Andres Gomez. Young Aussies flocked to America in search of his wisdom and names such as the Wimbledon-winning doubles pair of Paul McNamee and Peter McNamara were among his proteges.

There were a few good players in that group I would say.

Robert Lansdorp is the legendary Southern California coach who has developed dozens of world class junior and professional players, including 3 juniors who started with him and went on to become number one in the world: Tracey Austin, Lindsay Davenport, and Pete Sampras. He now coaches Maria Sharapova.

I hope that answers the question.

so this is why bottomfeeders become bottomfeeders
Explain please?

WyverN
12-18-2003, 05:00 AM
Think how many tennis talents were missed in Russia during the communism years, with the focus being solely on the Olympics many talented players would never even get near a tennis court.

If Kafelnikov, Safin and even Kournikova were born 20 years earlier they never would have picked up a tennis racket.

Action Jackson
12-18-2003, 05:51 AM
Originally Posted by WyverN
Think how many tennis talents were missed in Russia during the communism years, with the focus being solely on the Olympics many talented players would never even get near a tennis court.


Very true, they had very strict sporting standards before they would sent their athletes overseas. Tennis wasn't considered very highly by the authorities during those years, so they didn't bother putting any money into it.

If Kafelnikov, Safin and even Kournikova were born 20 years earlier they never would have picked up a tennis racket.

The Soviets had Metrevelli ( Georgian) in the 70s, who was quite good but the people who paved the way for these players that came out of the former USSR were Chesnokov on the mens side and to an extent Zvereva for the women.

The facilities have been much improved now, back then it was very difficult and then the Soviet federation would only send Chesnokov to certain tournaments. Then after Chesnokov and Zvereva starting doing well, the Federation kept most of their prize money.

An example below the year was 1989.

Andrei Chesnokov, announced that he, too, wanted to pocket his prize money. Chesnokov, 23, said he had been permitted to keep "maybe $10,000 to $12,000" of the $500,000 he has won since turning pro in 1984. I won $59,000 at Orlando last year, I got $496 from the federation," he said. "Can you believe that- $496?"

So if it wasn't for them having success on the tour, then players like Kafelnikov, Medvedev, Mirnyi, Safin, Sargsian would have found it much harder to breakthrough than it already was for them.

Dirk
12-18-2003, 09:35 AM
That is terrible. Thank God the players get to control their money now....well if they are smart.

Action Jackson
12-19-2003, 05:52 AM
Well Dirk then the federation payed for the hotels, flight tickets and all the other stuff, they didn't allow Chesnokov to keep his prizemoney for ages, but yes it's better now.

Leo
12-21-2003, 02:41 AM
Thanks for the article. It was a good read.

I really want to go to Romania one day. It seems like a very mystical and beautiful place. The movie "Cold Mountain" (w/ Nicole Kidman, Renee Zellweger, Jude Law) was entirely filmed there. Plus, it's the home of Count Dracula. ;) A friend of a friend went there once and said it was full of wild dogs and bears and wandering gypsies who are constantly stealing. :)

Oh sorry, was this thread supposed to be about tennis?

Action Jackson
12-21-2003, 06:43 AM
Well Leo, the thread was part tennis and I also I thought it was interesting to read about a guy who grew up playing tennis in a former Eastern Bloc country and the differences they had compared to the non-communist countries.

All I say about your friend of a friends comment about Romania was just a gross generalisation.

Action Jackson
11-30-2007, 06:02 AM
Definitely it wasn't a pampered background at all for Andrei, but he came through it.

Alessia9
11-30-2007, 02:02 PM
All I say about your friend of a friends comment about Romania was just a gross generalisation.

Well, it is a generalisation. There are places and places.
Gypsies are all over the world, you know ....there are nomads. But, it's true in Romania there are more than in other places.

Wild dogs? There was a problem few years ago in some places but not that serious as some might think.
As for the bears, in the montains there are brown bears (one of the last places where you can still find them) which sometimes come down for food, but there are isolated places, so be calm ... you won't be in danger if you respect the routes indicated in the mountains.

Well, Romania has some incredible places worth visiting, but the problem is that the infrastructure is not that well developed. Over the last years it has been getiing better and better.

There are contries with less places to visit, but have a great infrastructure and turism is well organised. Romania still has a lot to learn and it better be soon because has seaside, mountains, some incredible monastaries, a great Danube Delta, the montains are incredible ....and many more.

As for Andrei Pavel, he is very respected and loved in Romania. He's a great person and it's our tennis star for many more years to come (I don't see anyone yet to follow on his footsteps).
He, as many other players from East, left Romania when he was younger and went to Western Europe to train.

:)

P.S. I wish that Ilie Nastase and Tiriac would be involved much more in the growing of tennis in Romania (they are, but I think that can do much more).

dijus
11-30-2007, 09:27 PM
thanks for article
Always good to see Pavel's name in GM :p

Action Jackson
12-02-2007, 06:09 AM
P.S. I wish that Ilie Nastase and Tiriac would be involved much more in the growing of tennis in Romania (they are, but I think that can do much more).

Tiriac is too much of a crook, but that's another story.