Tennis in Australia was in the headlines just a month out from the start of the Australian Open and only a couple of weeks before the stat of the summer of tennis. However it was for all the wrong reasons. The news...
Tennis in Australia was in the headlines just a month out from the start of the Australian Open and only a couple of weeks before the stat of the summer of tennis. However it was for all the wrong reasons. The news had nothing to do with the rising temperatures or who would be favoured for the titles; instead it had to do with negative news about Bernard Tomic. The 20 year old has been banned from playing in Australia’s first tie of the 2013 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas (although he now says he never put that tie in his schedule) and the indications are that Tennis Australia will be cutting his funding. They have had enough. Let me say from the outset, Bernie is a good kid (yes he is still a kid) and I like him and he is an outstanding talent but Bernie has gone off the track a great deal this year after the success he had in 2011. Here are three examples: a) the driving incident at the start of the year when he broke road rules and then allegedly wouldn’t speak to police which resulted in a court case b) not giving his best in matches and admitting that he had not tried 100% c) a brawl in a hot tub that was videoed and placed on You Tube. An incident during a press conference at this year’s US Open when he was verbally aggressive to a journalist was unnecessary and created attention that he didn’t need. The journalist was relaying what John McEnroe has expressed on TV that Tomic was not trying in the match and was interested in a response to the comment. Tomic understood the journalist was accusing him of that and it was not the case. He doesn’t seem to be getting back into line. That is the frustrating part and that is the aspect which prompted the national governing body to take such action. Tomic has too much ability and to see it being wasted is criminal and hopefully the element of tough love will make him open his eyes and see what he could be throwing away. Hopefully it will force him to take stock and turn things around. I remember his father John talking to me in the middle of a shopping centre in Kuala Lumpur saying that Bernard doesn’t want to practice. He will be on court for 30 or 45 minutes and he thinks that is more than enough. One player Tomic has a lot of time and respect for is Novak Djokovic, they speak the same language, literally, and even he is a bit surprised “I've seen what he has been doing,” Djokovic said. “It's definitely not the right thing for him at this moment, at this stage of his career. He needs to try to find a way to focus on tennis if he wants to become one of the best players in the world. I honestly think, and he has proven, that he has the ability, he has the quality, he has a great talent. That's not everything that is necessary for somebody to play this game on the top level.” But Tomic is not the only Australian player in recent times who has been the focus of attention for behaviour. There is Brydan Klien (who you may ask but he was a promising young player), Marinko Matosevic the current Aussie No.1 and going back just a bit the wasted abilities of Mark Philippoussis. Look, this is not supposed to be all about Tomic etc. What has been happening is not unique to him. It seems to be a growing problem across sport when very young people show potential and are given a lot of money and are not said “no” to. There are way too many stories of footballers across all codes and their vulgar behaviour. Let’s not even get into the entertainment world with the likes of Lindsay Lohan … why do we even care about her? Money and adoration are the main underlying issues and then don’t forget parents who are living their dreams through their children and often the root of it all. Way too often young athletes believe this is how things should be and are not prepared to work. Talent alone will not take you to the top; that talent has to be developed and nurtured. It all comes down to work and bloody hard work to boot. They forget that and they are not told that enough by the people around them. Everything is given to them on a silver platter and made so easy. Now it’s time for those agents and coaches and parents and minders to start standing up and saying “no” to these young ones. Teach them and direct them. Make them work for what they want. Take responsibility and guide them and at the same time these young players need to start taking responsibility for themselves or just get out of the game. Grow up. Tennis doesn’t need this sort of attitude or behaviour. In times gone by players poured their hearts and souls into being the best they could be and absolutely they still do it today when you look at Federer, the Williams girls, Nadal, Djokovic, Sharapova, Azarenka and the list goes on, even Hewitt (like him or not), who just won’t give up despite all the surgeries; they all realised there was a goal and the money was not the be all and end all. In fact speaking of money, maybe the idea is that the money earned by younger players is placed in trust accounts that they cannot touch till they are 21. They are given an allowance for expenses and they have to work for it. When more mature they get their funds. Quite possibly it will provide some direction because right now for players like Tomic it is all too easy. What are your thoughts?