Really good article about Brad [Archive] - MensTennisForums.com

Really good article about Brad

Deboogle!.
01-09-2004, 06:48 PM
From the San Francisco Chronicle.... talks about Andy here and there, but mostly about Brad, his family, etc.

Here's a pic of them http://www.sfgate.com/chronicle/pictures/2004/01/09/nb_gilbert_3.jpg
----
Tennis sensei-tion
Brad Gilbert, coach to the top players, is a master at serving advice

Jim Doyle, Chronicle Staff Writer


Brad Gilbert, who's logged more trips around the world than an international sales rep, hung around the house in the closing weeks of 2003, savoring the moments. Soon enough, he'd be back on the pro tennis tour, jetting to far-flung places.

How does a globetrotting coach spend his spare time? Earnestly. Gilbert, the affable yet occasionally surly honcho whom Robin Williams calls "the tennis sensei," applied his keen focus to the tai chi of home life.

Rising at dawn to check the stock market. Carpooling the kids to school: three different private schools in central and southern Marin County. Taking a squeegee to the rain puddles on the tennis court at his hilltop estate in San Rafael. Battling with teenage son Zach over a fuzzy yellow ball. Schmoozing with daughters Julian and Zoe. Having friends over. Going with wife Kim to see his pal Williams in the play "The Exonerated."

"I'm gone enough. It's really nice to come back here," said Gilbert, 42, a former pro tennis player and former coach of Andre Agassi. "I've been everywhere in the world. I've been through everything... This is a great place to live and raise kids."

The tennis guru's latest protege is Andy Roddick, the No. 1 men's player in the world. But over the holidays, Gilbert found pleasure in small stuff. Fishing mini dachshund Koco out of a pond. Rubbing the belly of Taz, an Australian shepherd. Keeping an eye on Shinjo, for fear the Doberman/Lab might lunge at the Fed Ex driver.

"He's a great dad. He brings in his energy. He wakes up the house like nobody," said Kim Gilbert. "The kids really like it when he's around. He wants to play with them. He's an adventure dad... He'll do carpools, but he certainly knows how to have a good time. He took all of us to a Warriors game.. . There's no such thing as an intimate moment. It's definitely family time, and we use the time well. The kids are no match for him. It's almost like they have to recuperate once he's gone."

He also grabbed a few hours for himself. Listening to sports-talk radio. Working out at a local gym. Cruising in his 1972 silver Cadillac El Dorado Biarritz convertible.

He took a detour to Los Angeles to make some instructional videos. And he dove into a book project, brainstorming with a ghostwriter about his career as a player and coach.

Gilbert and family spent Thanksgiving at a friend's house. "We had the best time, and we didn't have to do anything," he said. "It was the most kid- friendly Thanksgiving I've ever seen. There must have been 30 kids."

The Gilberts celebrated Hanukkah and Christmas in San Rafael, then flew to Florida on Christmas night to be with Roddick, who lives in Boca Raton. Gilbert trained with the 21-year-old sensation for several days in Florida to prepare for the year's first Grand Slam tournament, the Australian Open, which begins Jan. 19. The two flew last week to Melbourne to get used to the sweltering heat.

"There's a natural connection between sports statistics and money," said tennis historian Joel Drucker. "Brad's whole thing in life is how do you win. Not necessarily how you beat people, but how you succeed. He's very pragmatic.. . What he brings to coaching is the same kind of problem-solving intelligence. He studies opponents. He's a great scout. Brad is a genius at seeing what other people got... Although he seems eclectic and glib and facile, he has an agenda. He's aware of what he needs to get done."

Not all the Gilberts play tennis. Kim Gilbert, a painter, has designed movie posters and record album covers. Julian, 12, designs and makes clothes. Zoe, 6, is learning to play tennis and the piano.

Zach, 15, is a top-flight junior player, and thus bears some unspoken pressure of living in the shadow of the macho man whose first book was titled, "Winning Ugly: Mental Warfare in Tennis - Lessons From a Master." In his 14 years on the pro circuit, Gilbert won 20 singles titles, earned more than $5.5 million in prize money and was ranked as high as No. 4 in the world in 1990.

No one ever accused him of having elegant strokes. He was a grinder, with a knack for keeping the ball in play.

Zach, a high school freshman, takes it in stride. He's a sports trivia whiz like his father. He traveled last summer with his dad and Roddick to tournaments in the United States, England and Canada.

Tennis fans know Gilbert as the knuckle-shakin' ace sitting in the stands under a black-rimmed Metallica hat. He's a close buddy of Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich, whose father, Torben, is a tennis coach and former pro player.

With his rugged face, dark shades and corny smile, Gilbert looks like a cowboy. But he's as ruthlessly competitive as anyone. He remains poker-faced when he watches Roddick play, only occasionally breaking into applause.

"It's the hardest part of coaching," he said, "because you can't talk with him during a match... When he looks up at me, I don't want him to see me clapping wildly or to think that I'm surprised at the way he's playing. I just want him to see me nod my head."

With his casual, colloquial style, Gilbert may not sound like the most articulate dude. But he has one of the best strategic minds in pro sports. He can quickly analyze an opponent's strengths and weaknesses and come up with a scorch-and-burn strategy for exploiting that player's weaknesses, defusing his weapons, and dismantling his will to win.

"Brad is a very savvy and knowledgeable guy," said agent Tom Ross, who heads the men's tennis division of sports marketing firm Octagon. "He was a fast-rising junior, but no one would have forecast the kind of career he had. I think he used all his talents and surprised a lot of people. He's technically astute, and made a seamless transition to coaching. He knows what buttons to push... I've never underestimated him. I admire what he's accomplished."

Gilbert is a coach at the top of his game -- pulling down a hefty six- figure salary, basking in the media limelight. Roddick quickly rose to the top of the heap under his stewardship and won the U.S. Open in New York in September.

For eight years, Gilbert had coached Agassi, one of the world's tennis greats. In the go-go years, Gilbert was flown to the world's tournaments in Agassi's customized jetliner. The two decided to go their separate ways in late 2001, but remain close friends.

"I had been on the road for 20 years, and it took some patience being here," Gilbert said. "I learned to appreciate how Kim has the harder job, taking care of the three kids. It was humbling."

Gilbert's wife grew up in Missouri. They met through friends in 1984 at the Hard Rock Cafe in San Francisco, where she was attending the Academy of Art College. On their first big date, he flew her to Kyoto, Japan, to watch him play for the U.S. team in Davis Cup competition. She lived and worked as an artist in Los Angeles for two years while he crisscrossed the globe.

Once their romance morphed into marriage, the newlyweds resided at Harbor Bay Isle, a haven for Golden State Warriors fans and players. Then 14 years ago, they moved to their dream house: a sprawling mansion that looks and feels like a hunting lodge. It was built in 1904 by the Korbels, the California champagne makers.

A wooden bucket in the front hallway holds several tennis rackets. A salon boasts a large, meticulously carved antique wet bar from England. On the wall is a memento from Gilbert's college tennis days: a plaque commemorating his election to Pepperdine University's Hall of Fame.

The living room has a big-screen TV and piano. The dining room sports a long table with 10 chairs. There's a gym downstairs, and a pool, hot tub, and trampoline outside, along with an art studio, guesthouse and garage filled with luxury cars and a golf cart.

Gilbert was off the pro circuit for 17 months after he and Agassi split. He was taking a load of garden trimmings to the Marin dump in early June when Roddick phoned from Europe. The rookie had lost in the first round at the French Open and was ready to switch coaches. Gilbert flew the next day to rendezvous with "A-Rod" in London, where he was getting set to compete in the Queen's Club tournament.

The first test of wills involved Roddick's habit of wearing his cap backward. "He was wearing this orange visor," Gilbert said. "I told him, 'You've got to do me a favor. You've got to get rid of that thing. It's just not physical. I can beat you just thinking about that visor.' "

Roddick tossed the visor, and won the Queen's Club title.

"Tennis makes you grow up fast. You could be 18, 19 or even younger, competing in a challenger (tournament) in Turkey or Asia and you don't have any buddies with you," said Gilbert, who talks a mile a minute. "If you turn pro and you're not doing well, it's not a 'I'm-feeling-sorry-for-you sport.' There are no salary guarantees like in baseball or football.

"I hope that I can help Andy keep improving, reaching for higher goals and heights. I'm always coaching, always motivating. Sometimes that can mean a lot. Being that friend, being that mentor. Sometimes the best coaching is at dinnertime the night before a match. You're just rapping, having a good time. You slip something in about strategy. Then before the match you go over a few things."

But that take-no-prisoners approach can draw fire from Zach.

"Sometimes when I coach him too much, he thinks I'm picking on him, because there's that father-son thing," Gilbert said. "I want to help him sometimes, but he just gets mad at me... He thinks, because I played well that I never struggled. And I tell him, 'No Zach, I struggled. I really, really struggled.' "

Gilbert grew up in Oakland and Piedmont. His father, a high school history teacher, started a real estate firm. The tennis-hungry kid found pickup games with top-ranked amateurs and pros at Davie Tennis Stadium.

As a junior, he was known for his so-so strokes, nonstop chatter, raft of opinions, temper and annoying antics on the court. He wasn't considered a hot prospect for college tennis. But he played for maverick coach Tom Chivington at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, then moved on to Pepperdine, where he was a runner-up in NCAA singles competition in 1982. Then he turned pro.

"When I was young, everything was nice," Gilbert said. "Now kids are bone- crushing the ball. They're leaving the ground, and jarring their bodies. Everything is physical."

Tennis is also tough on the pros. The pro circuit, which includes dozens of international tournaments, has less than a two-month off-season at the end of each year. Gilbert would like to see the season end a month sooner, which could help prevent injuries and extend careers, and reduce his time on the road.

This year, Gilbert plans to be on tour for about 30 weeks. He'll travel occasionally with the family, and Kim plans to join him in Australia and for other major tournaments. Gilbert likes to take the family on impromptu vacations to places like Hawaii, bagging a penthouse suite with ocean view.

For years, sportswriters were amazed at how a scrappy player like Gilbert was able to occasionally beat giants like John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors. Now, they marvel at his success as a coach.

Gilbert is credited with instilling in Agassi -- who ran hot and cold during his early years on the tour -- a deeper love for the game. With Gilbert's guidance, Agassi became a devout student of tennis tactics and, with the aid of trainer Gil Reyes, became more physically fit. Agassi, 33, has managed to keep improving.

Gilbert has also coached women players, including Grand Slam winners Mary Pierce and Martina Hingis. He once gave lessons to Williams, who needed a tuneup for a celebrity tourney.

He also volunteers his time to help inspire the next generation. At a recent U.S. Tennis Association training camp in Carmel Valley, Gilbert gave tips on how to win to hundreds of junior players.

At rock bottom, the tennis sensei embodies the notion that sports are a positive influence.

"You'd be surprised how many heads of companies played something or did something when they were young: tennis, basketball, wrestling," he said. "They have a competitive streak. And that's good, as long as you're not an a -- . I really believe that any sport, or any skill that you learn, helps all the other aspects of your life. It keeps you focused. I think it's really good for kids to have something they're focused on. With all the distractions around, it gives them something to set their sights on. It's healthy... If you just give to it, and put in everything you have, good things will usually happen."

MisterQ
01-09-2004, 07:01 PM
Thanks bunk!

Interesting how successful Brad was with his ugly "pusher" game! He was just a really smart player.

He has more titles (20) than Hewitt, Enqvist, Kuerten, Rios, Stich, Corretja, Krajicek, Costa --- people who would appear to have more talent. (of course, some of them, especially Hewitt, will certainly pass him since their careers are still in progress).

Deboogle!.
01-09-2004, 07:04 PM
yepyepyep

He gets a bad rap but he seems like a cool guy to me. and I liked reading about his family and stuff :) Plus he really cares about his players, that's obvious, and it's nice to know that Andy has someone out on tour with him who cares about him.

MisterQ
01-09-2004, 07:05 PM
Also noticed that Brad has an even 4-4 head-to-head with Andre! And Brad's wins came when Andre was a top player, in the early nineties.

Check out Brad's photo on the ATP site: :lol:

Deboogle!.
01-09-2004, 07:09 PM
HAHAHAHAHAHA Very typically Brad!

That's funny about their h2h being even... I never saw Brad play, but he obviously knew how to "win ugly" lol

J. Corwin
01-09-2004, 09:14 PM
Thanks for the article!

And the funny thing is, when I read Brad's quotes in the article, I was hearing his voice in my head. LOL

tangerine_dream
01-09-2004, 10:00 PM
If you guys haven't read it already, you should pick up "Winning Ugly." It's very readable and the insights are great. It's interesting to see how Brad managed to out-psyche and beat players far better than him. Gilbert never got the respect as a player because he was a "junkballer". Johnny Mac absolutely hated Gilbert and so it's kinda funny listening to Mac talk about Gilbert now whenever Agassi or Roddick are playing. :)

Deboogle!.
01-09-2004, 10:23 PM
Brad obviously is incredible on the mental side, I mean look what he could do with Andy in a matter of a couple weeks... I just hope that he can still make that headway with him....

J. Corwin
01-10-2004, 06:41 AM
I don't know...to me, Gilbert's lost some of the "zen master coach" aura. lol

Andy hasn't been producing the nearly the same results as he did before Davis Cup with Slovakia last year.

heya
01-10-2004, 09:28 AM
This Ron guy posted@racquetsnrambling board,
claiming that Andy reached his peak, and
Fed/Marat
were superior to everyone else, and
Fed deserved #1 last year.
Then he said he's an Andy fan, and Andy's a great
player. LMAO

J. Corwin
01-10-2004, 11:43 AM
lol

star
01-10-2004, 02:07 PM
If you guys haven't read it already, you should pick up "Winning Ugly." It's very readable and the insights are great. It's interesting to see how Brad managed to out-psyche and beat players far better than him. Gilbert never got the respect as a player because he was a "junkballer". Johnny Mac absolutely hated Gilbert and so it's kinda funny listening to Mac talk about Gilbert now whenever Agassi or Roddick are playing. :)

I remember Mac hating Gilbert. When he took all that time off from tennis and then tried to come back, he lost to Gilbert, and was talking about how horrible he must be playing because he lost to Gilbert. btw, I don't think he ever lost to Gilbert before that.

Gilbert is a big talker and a braggart.

I remember one year he got deeper into Wimbledon than anyone might have suspected and he was giving an interview about how he knew how to play Becker and he had a game plan that would give Becker trouble etc. etc..... This was an interview in his hotel room for American TV... Then the next day he played Becker and Becker demolished him. It was one of the few times I was on Becker's side. :)

Deboogle!.
01-10-2004, 02:21 PM
lol heya, that board is psycho.

*shrug* I dunno, I still like Brad lol

star
01-10-2004, 02:24 PM
The reason you still like Brad, Deb, is that you haven't had to listen to him talk endlessly about himself, etc.

When he was a player, he was hideously annoying. He engaged in all sorts of gamesmanship. Do you remember that clip that Marnie posted here?

I like him better since he quit playing, but I remember when he became Andre's coach that I was thinking that two of the most annoying people in tennis had hooked up. Although, I did think it was a good move from Andre because what he needed to learn was how to think on the court.

Deboogle!.
01-10-2004, 02:26 PM
lol no star, I haven't heard him talk about himself at all. that may explain it :)

MisterQ
01-10-2004, 05:25 PM
There's an amusingly written passage about Gilbert in McEnroe's "You Cannot Be Serious" book. Too bad I left it at my parents' house... But it's something about how much he hated playing Gilbert, because his negative energy just sucked you into a void -- or something like that! ;)

star
01-10-2004, 06:12 PM
Gilbert was just awful to watch playing tennis. Ghastly. And then you couple that with a big mough. Ugh.

Solomon was tedious and therefore irritating, but somehow I always admired him using the only thing he really had to win a match. He was like rooting for the ultimate underdog.... but... moonballs... omg!

tangerine_dream
01-10-2004, 07:26 PM
The reason you still like Brad, Deb, is that you haven't had to listen to him talk endlessly about himself, etc.

LOL! :lol: I see Gilbert is as popular as ever. ;) I can admire the guy's coaching skills but yeah, that guy just loves to hear himself talk. Remember how he practically took over Andy's post-match interview after he won the US Open? :eek:

When he was a player, he was hideously annoying. He engaged in all sorts of gamesmanship. Do you remember that clip that Marnie posted here?

Do you mean Marine? What clip was this? I missed it. :sad: