What if you had a dream… to come back from injury and become an athlete again, to beat the club champion, to win a national title? What type of event would propel you toward your goals? Vic Braden said, “If you are 65 years old, you have thirty years to work on your game.”
As the sun rose into pink skies this morning, hundreds of aging athletes rolled bleary-eyed from the bedroom into the breakfast hall. There, amongst the walls and chairs, someone set up a massive tennis court, complete with cameras, microphones, and the sort of seductiveness one might expect from Mae West peering through bedroom doors (reference is demographically appropriate). On court, Mark Kovacs and a world-class fitness team coached the athletes through a professional warm-up before sending the group to the courts for their 4.5 hours of tennis.
I was fortunate enough to be stationed on court twelve today, adjacent to elite Spanish coach, Emilio Sanchez and caddy corner to former Top Tenner, Tim Mayotte, both of whom had players soaked to the bones. Today was diagnostic, where coaches spent several hours assessing technique, tactics, movement, psychology, etc., followed by an afternoon fitness evaluation with long-term solutions. In between, Grand Slam winner GiGi Fernandez gave an on-court seminar on doubles tactics, via Powerpoint, demonstration, and some seriously insightful comments.
And then the evening entertainment. Thirty-five grand slams upon the stage answering questions about the thoughts of champions, the practice habits of champions, the idiosyncrasies of champions and how they all pursued their life’s dreams via tennis. Laughter, camaraderie, honesty, and in John Austin’s case, a moment of courage as he opened up about a life-changing illness.
Descriptions here include, “Blown away by the amount of information,” “Best weekend of my life and it’s only been one day,” and “How in the hell did PJ put this together?” And that’s really the question. How does a guy with no tennis background other than a passion for the game, gather many of the world’s top coaches, 250 enthusiastic athletes, and an unbelievably talented fitness team, and keep them all smiling for the weekend and begging for more. The answer requires us to return to the beginning, “What if you had a dream….”