I am going to come out and say what a lot of people have been thinking. Why do young Australian Tennis players with first generation European fathers struggle with authority and why do they struggle to meet their potential? Tomic, Doric, Kyrgios, Philippoussis all possess the same traits. Ridiculous amounts of talent, entitlement issues and overbearing fathers.
Growing up, Dad is always right. Look at Jelena Doric. Even amidst her father’s appalling behavior and subsequent banning, she stood by him. Damir and her even left Australia to represent Serbia in tennis. It took Jelena to become estranged from her father and escape his control to return and represent Australia. But the damage to her career had already been done.
Are their fathers responsible for their poor behavior?
Tennis isn’t a team sport and you don’t often work within a team dynamic. European fathers can be very dominating figures (Slavic, Greek, Eastern European) and by assuming complete control they can begin to have a negative effect on the skill development of these players. More importantly they stunt the player’s emotional growth and development which warps their whole perspective on the world. In their world they are the centre of the universe and the most important person. This is reaffirmed by their mentor, coach, trainer and financial adviser which just happens to be their father. To play all roles is impossible and dangerous. In an attempt to have total control they shut out outside influences and slowly everyone on the outside becomes the enemy. This level of paranoia grows and invariably forms distrust. It is much the same mentality that is present in ‘cults’ like Scientology. Essentially it’s a psychological manipulation that is used to maintain control.
“Everyone is distrustful and out to get me, except dad”
Any other institution (in this case Tennis Australia) that tries to exert rules or regulations is always considered the enemy. (Does this sound familiar Dokic, Tomic, Kyrgios, Philippoussis)?
This is from an interview with Todd Vinney who became Philippoussis’s fitness coach in 1996
He was his father, he was his manager, he was his coach,” Viney told Fox Footy’s Open Mike.
“Nick had a huge influence on Mark’s life, as all fathers do. It didn’t work out well. A lot of people warned me Nick was hard to work with and I wouldn’t have my way — I’d be carrying the bags.
Unfortunately he wanted to control everything Mark did, from the clothes he put on in the morning to the way he packed his bag.”
But why the need for complete autonomy? Love? Care? Not even close. Money
The net result of this player management is currently on display at Wimbledon, staring Bernard Tomic. Tomic has to realize that Tennis Australia is a business. You don’t perform, you don’t get paid. The fact you had to pay for your own balls and court hire should make you want to work harder. It indicates that Tennis Australia are no longer going to carry you. Once again it’s potential versus performance. While you are winning you can afford to be a fuckwit because winning trumps everything (lucky for Kyrgios) but as soon as you start losing or get injured then you are just a fuckwit. I don’t know too many organisations that support fuckwit losers so I completely understand Tennis Australia’s current stance.
But I feel sorry for Tomic. He is in his father’s spell. A man that was banned from the tour for a year and now has completely fallen out with Australian Tennis. I bet his next move is to do a Dokic and leave Australia to play for Croatia. You heard it here first.
Authority and rules don’t sit well with any of these players. Watching them on court I feel like I am out on a Saturday night listening to them either belittling a bouncer, arguing with the police or facing up with someone trying to start a fight.
This complete disregard for authority is common in all these players.
Tomic, Dokic, Kyrgios, and Philippoussis these names may mean a lot in the local Australian tennis club but on a world stage they mean very little.
Wasn’t Mark Philippoussis the guy who was on that dating show, Age of Love?
Unfortunately I think that Nick Kyrgios will suffer the same fate of the previously mentioned players. Not because of a lack of talent but purely due to a lack of maturity. Nick is turning into a parody of himself. He is happy to branded a fukwit and his on court behavior is reflecting this. The more attention he is getting the worse he is becoming, just like a troublesome child who is playing up to the other children. It’s more embarrassing than disappointing.
This is clearly a kid that has a very low level of maturity. But when you have been stuck in a bubble your whole life and have been told by everyone that you are the greatest, then it isn’t surprising that he has the maturity of a 10 year old. Becoming a man and taking responsibility for your own actions enables you to develop as a player. It enables you to accept criticism of your own game and develop a strength of character that can endure hard matches. But unfortunately Dad won’t let that happen.
Tennis Australia will always struggle with European fathers because they are ultimately the head of the family and in a battle of family vs establishment then family will always win. These fathers would rather stifle the talent that let anyone else take advantage of it.
My hope is that Thanasi Kokkinakis can disprove everything I have just said but I believe he is the exception to the rule. Time will only tell.