Q&A w/ Rod Laver

Davo introducing Rod Laver
Davo introducing Rod Laver
Monday morning started off warm and the temperature warmed up to the low 80s for our morning of training, team positioning, and drills. A stated goal for the morning is “don’t work too hard” (save yourself for the afternoon doubles match and two-a-day matches that start on Tuesday).

After breakfast, we were all treated to a question and answer session with Rod Laver:

What would you change in your career? “Looking back how things turned out, I wouldn’t change anything that I did. In 1962, I traveled the world playing tournaments (note: winning the Grand Slam) and came home with just $4-5,000 in my pocket and I thought ‘this isn’t going to work.’ So it was the right choice to turn pro then.”

In your day, what were the “sponsorship deals” like? “I worked for Dunlop and got four racquets and six sets of strings to go overseas and play for six months. Roger Federer now earns $70 million a year in endorsements… and that is good for him.”

What impact did Lamar Hunt have on tennis? “He changed the game in many ways. Prior to 1971, he was in the background; and then he said he wanted to have 32 players and he was going to 20 tournaments, with each getting $50,000 a person; and it changed the game.”

What match or tournament do you remember most? “Winning Wimbledon in 1961, beating Chuck McKinley for my first there.”

What influence did Harry Hopman have on you? “He influenced a lot of Australian players. In 1956, he was funded to take a touring tennis team around the world; and he was encouraged to take two juniors with him; and I was one that he gave a chance at age 17… and I won the Kalamazoo junior championship over here.”

What was the best tennis advice you ever got? “My coach told me, ‘you will never win Wimbledon with just a slice backhand. You need a topspin backhand.’ So I worked on that stroke.”

What did you feel going on the court for big matches? “I was lucky that I never felt nervous. I would have nerves; but not the gittery kind; but the kind that would help me sharpen my focus.”

Morning Tennis

Then the teams went off to play some doubles for about two hours, with different pairings to see how we match up together. I teamed up with Marty Judge and two other solid (younger) players and will probably be paired with one of them at either #3 or #4 doubles.

Afternoon Doubles

2016-groupFollowing lunch, we had our pictures taken with the group of all the Legends and then gathered for more doubles practice and pairings. Toward the end of our hot afternoon session, i told Emmo, “My Monday odometer was ready to rollover to 100,000 miles.” So we stopped.

I still think I will be playing either #3 or 4 in the first team matches tomorrow.

After Tennis Tennis

At the end of the day, Roy Emerson and Rod Laver gave a clinic right below our balcony; but after a full day of morning and afternoon tennis, Willy and I shared some beer, chips, and relaxing time watching the two legends from on high (like watching Mickey Mantle and Joe Dimaggio giving a clinic on batting). Doesn’t get much better than that.

Senior Moments

Then we went to Happy Hour and dinner of barbeque chicken and ribs. After dinner, I presented the first planned “Senior Moment” award of giving away a copy of my “Senior Tennis” book. It was awarded to Marty Reissen, who had held the record of being the oldest man to win an ATP tournament (Lafayette, LA in 1978 at 37 years and 9 months) until Ivo Karlovic won Newport this past summer.

The evening’s entertainment was an “AUSSIE panel” of Davo, Emmo and Fred Stolle, who regaled us with stories of the early days of Davis Cup and Australian tennis.

Afterwards, while others went to the bar for more drink and talk, I went off to my room to try to get a decent night’s sleep before the Tuesday team competition, with doubles for me in the morning and in the afternoon.

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2 thoughts on “Q&A w/ Rod Laver

  1. Thanks for posting George. I was a last minute scrub unfortunately. I hope Scott Miller’s injury is not too serious. I played dubs with him several yrs ago. It was a treat and we went undefeated. Give my best to Marty. Willy and Tom Mackessy.

    Enjoy your week down there.

    Chris, sorry to hear. I haven’t seen Tom Mackessy, who was supposed to be here. george

  2. Enjoyed reading about the interview with the “Rocket,” Rod Laver. I worked for Rod and Roy Emerson in my first job out of college at the Laver Emerson Tennis Clinics. Rod was always so humble and fun to work with and epecially liked watching him play since I am also left handed and could more easily relate to his demonstrations.

    Lynn, he is still extremely humble. thanks, george

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