I’ve put on this site and on social media: We love getting messages on how kids are going during and after events.  We really are lucky to have so many options as far as tournaments go.

This weekend alone lots of clubs in the region ran their club singles championships (and a big well done to the clubs that let our juniors play in their adult competition).  On top of this there was a Junior Doubles Tournament in Tambellup, and a Junior Singles Tournament in Kendenup.  It was great to get a heap of text messages throughout the day as to how a player was tracking and going and then get photos at the end of the day. This is why you play sport, fun, good times and good memories! How cool is this pic of Evan Hancock and John Burns as 8s doubles runners up.  These two are two of the funnest, coolest kids we coach, always with a story or a joke or keen to tell a tale or two – so I was naturally stoked they got a medal and enjoyed the day!

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Getting back to the club champs, two local clubs in Albany both have strong juniors.  Well done to WA Country rep, Nelson Standborough (13) who made the Men’s Singles Final and to “Coach” Gabby Bolt (16) who made the Ladies Singles Final at Lawley Park Tennis Club.

Over at Merrifield park, two of our boys went head to head in a 3 set thriller semi final that finished in a little over two hours.  Matt Watkins and Jarrod Capararo went head to head in a great three setter semi the week before.

Moving to the final and it was a Jarrod Capararo (14) v Les Bairstow (cough). I had played Les several times as a teenager and couldn’t get the win, man he was tough. I may have got lucky one year and got 4 or 5 games in a set. He can serve big, return big, volley strong, has great touch, and for an “older” player, moves around the court like a 20 year old.  I lost i think 3 or 4 finals as a teenager and it wasn’t until I grew and hit my 20s that I was able to get the W.  As you get older you get wiser.  A tennis legend in these parts (BB) would always say “Old heads beat young legs” and to a certain extent he was right, until you started to get the wins against him and then his legs gave way (or I was now deemed old).  I new I could use my heavy hitting and movement to get the W against blokes I couldn’t beat as a teenager.

Mentally as a teenager my racquet left my hand, I slapped my legs hard, my self talk was not positive and at times I must have looked like a raw beginner on court.  In a made up world I could have been up 5-0 in the second set and I wouldn’t have been able to get the win against Les….Mentally I was nowhere near where I needed to be in an individual sport (yet playing soccer for WA as a 17 year old, i had it sorted – and that toughness got me further than players who may have had more skill than me).

I had a hit with Jarrod the day before the final, we haven’t hit together in quite a while.  He was calm and confident.  He had been feeling under the weather all week, but he put in a solid session.  I tried to use my experiences to help him, but i had a feeling he had it under control. he new he could go toe to toe from the baseline, Jarrod is a brick wall. Jarrod new he would get a lot of passing shot opportunities as the attacking style he was up against would give him a few options.  Jarrod’s serve can get a bit tight, but her served through the match very steady, not a lot of free points won, but none given away on serve either.

We were talking about both the mens and ladies finals at the dinner table the night prior, my wifey was playing Jarrods mum (good family friends) and we were all giving our predictions. My wifey can play a bit, she has her name on the honours board more times than most. Sam  Capararo has a “huge game” and when she is on song, will outhit most women (and a heap of men).  I thought my better half could take the match in 3 close sets, which she did, but i think I was the only one that night at the table to picked Jarrod to win, mainly others would pick his opponent because of age and experience… I thought Jarrod could do it, (maybe in 3) and have the fitness to do it, and he was so much more calmer than I had been 20+++ years prior in the same situation, but there is always that pressure been a young kid in an adult final.

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So sitting watching the match and seeing this teenager, cool as a cucumber, feeling like crap on a hot sticky day, just going through the motions like a 50 year old veteran and I was reminded that regardless of your talent, your hitting ability, fitness and attitude – your mental game needs to be switched on, focused and your self talk and attitude needs to be positive.

I have to be fair to Les, my brother in law, he has been suffering a pretty bad Achilles injury, one that probably needs rest, but he still beat all those before him to make the final, possibly his 30+ somethings final in a row). But he showed great class through the match.

I cant wait for next year, with both at full fitness to see if they battle off against each other again. Will the old head return to beat the young legs?