Imagine always wanting to know how to hit a backhand volley properly, then ending up receiving coaching tips from none other than the world No1 in doubles, before stepping on court and actually hitting a really good one.
Sounds surreal, right?
Well that’s what myself and colleague Alex Rea got to experience while taking part in a clinic with doubles world No1 Marcelo Melo, WTA No11 Karolina Pliskova and the dream team of 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic and his coach, 2001 Wimbledon winner Goran Ivanisevic at the IPTL.
Thanks to a generous invitation from league sponsors Coca-Cola, we traded our dictaphones and laptops for tennis shoes and a racquet for two full hours to play some tennis with those great players.
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We got plenty of time, first with Pliskova and Melo, then with Ivanisevic and Cilic, hitting forehands, backhands and volleys to playing some doubles points against them.
The rule was, if your team loses the point, you had to wiggle, and let’s just say Melo and Ivanisevic’s commitment to shaking their butts was very commendable.
Alex was in fierce form, his killer forehand prompting Ivanisevic to call him a ‘powerhouse’. Something the rest of our long-suffering colleagues will be hearing about for years to come…
What was striking was how engaging the players were and how they really looked like they wanted to be there. They could be practicing or spending time by the pool but instead, made sure we were having a good time and offered tips when needed.