Monthly Archives: July 2013

Winning the Gold 61

Nearly three years ago, the co chair of the Grand Masters Maccabian team, Marty Bloom, called me to see if I would come on board as the coach of this team. When I agreed he told me that USA Maccabi execs said that coaches could not play. It would be too much work and that playing would interfere with what needed to be done. I had never won a Gold medal in the Maccabian Games. It was a hole in my tennis resume.

So I, of course, had a different story. I could coach 23 slightly experienced players aged 65, 70, 75 and 80 and overs and I could compete as well. If they wanted me to coach then they would have to let me play. A typical story of mine of creating a high bar. People said that it would be too tough to keep my game at the level at which it needed to be to succeed. Not my story….

Gold Medal Eve 10

I play Joe Oren for the gold tomorrow at 9:30AM. He is a fine player who is #1 in Israel in our age group. He and I have come across each other a couple of times at Senior Davis Cup matches although we have never played.

I have been asked by my teammates what I am thinking about tonight and if I am nervous.

My old story before big matches used to be that I would be edgy, nervous, worried and filled with obsessive and repetitive thoughts about the next day. I would often be focused on my opponent. I would worry that I wouldn’t play well….

On to the Gold Medal Round Sunday 293

Eleven of my teammates advanced to the gold medal round today with semifinal wins. We started with twenty three players on our teams and fifteen of them will leave Israel with medals and memories of a lifetime. How many people can, in one week, march in front of 40,000 people, compete for the USA and get a bronze, silver or gold medal. It is a small number. I have come to love many of these guys as we have worked on this over the last year. We are bonded forever and I am a better person for it. For me, each medal feels like personal gold. I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to coach these guys….

Semifinals Tomorrow Morning 7

Tomorrow morning is the semis and I play a fine player from Argentina. I am a strong favorite in the minds of most of the people in the Games based on how I have moved through the draw until now. There was a time that being the favorite felt like a burden to me, but that has passed over the years. Being the favorite has to do with the past. I know that whatever happens in the past has very little to do with the present. Nadal and Federer can certainly attest to that. Everything has to do with what I bring to the court tomorrow. My opponent and I are starting the match at the same starting line. The score starts at 0-0. We both will be on the 39×78 and we both have a 3 foot net.

I know who I am and what I need to do. Play with dignity and class. Ball in the court. Play within myself. Compete for every single point. Never quit. Welcome the adversity. Be accepting of how things play out. Find solutions. Be a positive role model for my USA teammates who are playing for medals for the first time in their lives.

Play with joy!

Another Good Day on the Courts 11

There is very little to write about my two matches today. I won easily, playing well within myself as my opponents were unable to hurt me in any way. The red clay is slowing the pace down and I can run down any ball. Knowing that to be the case I can play with high shot tolerance, meaning I can put the ball back in play and not have concern that they will be able to hit a winner. I have made so few errors in my matches. Add that into my opponents not being able to hit winners and it is a winning formula. For my five matches in the round robin part of the tournament, I have won 40 games in a row….

Two More Matches Today 67

It is late here and I am tired from a long day of being at the courts that included supporting many of the USA players as well as two matches that I played. So this will be quick.

The day started with me realizing that I have been way too on edge with the many organizational breakdowns regarding the Games. The shuttle buses from the various hotels to the Tennis Center, the internet challenges that impact on communicating with the team and the general confusion in the way the Israeli organizers of the tournament are operating have contributed to me feeling a lot of anguish.

This is not who I am and I needed to fix myself.

Opening Day of Matches 9

Matches started today at Ramat Hasharon, the Israel Tennis Center. It is the equivalent of our Billie Jean King Tennis Center. There is a major ATP Tour event played here. Most of the courts are hard courts. The ITC decided to build 5 red clay courts for the Maccabian Grand Masters players, as 65-84 year olds can play more easily for 7 consecutive days on softer courts. This is quite a consideration for which we are appreciative.

Although I have been practicing a little each day, my feeling of being at a major tournament didn’t kick in until this morning. The buzz of the event is always exciting. As I looked around and saw all of the International flags, it brought be back to 1985 when I played in the 35 and over Maccabian. I realized that one of the new clay courts is the court I played on to win the gold medal in doubles in a 6-7,7-6,7-6 thriller. That match actually helped me start to believe that I could play tennis at a level beyond my dreams.