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Dick Gould on Tennis

Dick Gould is currently the John L. Hinds Director of Tennis at Stanford University. From 1966 until his retirement in 2004, he coached the Stanford men's tennis team, during which time he led his teams to 17 NCAA Team Championships (10 NCAA singles champions, 7 NCAA doubles championship teams), and coached 50 All American champions. […]

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This is KZSU Stanford.
Welcome to entitled opinions.
My name is Robert Harrison, and we're coming to you
from the Stanford campus.
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The heart has reasons that reason knows nothing about or so claim the French philosopher Blaise Pascal.
By the same token, the body has ideas that the mind can't fathom or so claims the host of entitled opinions, a radio show devoted to the exchange of ideas.
It's not only mental ideas, but also aesthetic, effective, figurative, and yes, even at times, somatic ideas.
I may have affirmed on this program some time in the past that our bodies do most of our thinking for us, whether his majesty, the ego is aware of it or not.
To this I would add that sport is the ultimate metaphysics of the body.
It's been a long time since we've done a show on sports and entitled opinions.
That's a deficiency we're going to begin to correct today by talking about one of the most beautiful games in the history of sport, tennis.
We're going to do it with one of the best team coaches in the history of tennis.
One of the best? No, the best.
Dick Gould is here with me in the studios of KZSU.
Ten us, anyone?
Thank you.
For years I was a mediocre tennis player, then I came to Stanford.
Now, that would make a great opening sentence in a book.
For years I was a mediocre tennis player, then I came to Stanford.
Sounds like Guido de Monteffél, throwing in Fair no 27.
I was a man of arms, then I was a friar.
Almost two decades ago a Stanford student asked me if I would direct his undergraduate honors thesis.
And when I learned that he had spent his summer as a tennis instructor at some club met in the Caribbean,
I said I would direct his thesis if he showed me how to play tennis properly.
Never has anything been the same for me again since then, nor for my opponents on the courts.
And thank goodness for that because Stanford is not a place for mediocre tennis players.
In the past four decades, it has produced some of the very best men and women tennis teams and the NCAA history.
My guest today, Dick Gould, coach the Stanford men's tennis team for almost 40 years.
And what a run it's been.
Dick, welcome to the program.
It's a pleasure and honor to have you on our show.
My pleasure Robert and I love you a theme song.
I think I'll put that on before I walk out to Wimbledon to play in my fantasy match in the finals.
He would calm my nerves and make me very peaceful with myself.
I'm delighted you say that because for about four years we had a different theme song.
And this is the first time we're trying out this new one.
And you know how listeners are or TV viewers are.
They're very conservative.
They hate it when you change anything in the ritual, but we decided to go with the new one.
I'm glad you approved.
Well, I love it.
And after listening to the Brian Twins, the new CD, it's called "Let It Rip Last Night."
Oh, that's right.
I heard that they actually have a CD as a good.
Well, one plays the keyboard and one the drums, and they have a guest singer or actually the lead singer from outside the group.
But I love the music.
It's very good.
It's quite as mellow as what we just heard.
But it's a very nice beat to it.
And I think it's going to be as a developed a CD.
It's going to be a nice one for them.
Well, I would have to imagine that their tennis playing as double partners is probably better than their music.
But it would be really nice if it were the other way around.
Like Janique Noah, you remember the French player?
I surely do.
What a talent he was.
He won the French Open back in '82 or '83.
And then he's gone on to have this other career as a musician and a singer in a band in France.
And he's been much more of a celebrity and success as a musician singer than he was even as a champion tennis player.
So those are the kind of stories I like.
You know, I think one of the drummers from Metallica, the drummer is Torben Ulrich's son.
And so that's got an interesting, interesting music to it.
And it's just nice to see the tennis competitors with some outside interest.
The Williams with all of their different things going on, screen and Venus.
Ten is almost a hobby for them compared to everything else they're doing.
It's just nice to see something in people's lives who are so tied up in athletics.
And I guess the Williams sisters are now part owners of the Miami Dolphins.
I think they bought into a percentage of that franchise.
Well, they, of course, John E. Mackinroe, the tennis player whom you brought to Stanford way back when is also a guitar player in plays in a band, I believe.
Well, he's been trying to play in a band, but he loves music and his music is a little bit different than mine.
And likewise, Mel was the Brian's.
But again, same thing.
It's just nice to see these people who are so singular in what they do have other outside interest.
And it provides a nice release for them.
Of course, John's wife, Patty Smythe, was at least a great soloist in her world.
Well, maybe later in our show, I'm going to ask you whether the Stanford tennis players who graduated from Stanford might be more multidimensional in that regard than maybe some of the others who made a decision to not go to college.
And sometimes I'd even finish ice when just become these tennis automatons.
So we'll get into that later. Now, Dick, I usually don't spend much time summarizing the bios of my guests on this show because we post the essential information on our website.
But in your case, I feel that I need to recapitulate some of your achievements because you have such an outstanding record of success as a tennis coach.
It really boggles the mind.
Well, you did get an undergraduate degree at Stanford back in '59, then you got a master's from here also in '60.
You taught tennis here in the area for a while before becoming the head tennis coach at Stanford.
I believe it was in 1966. Is that in the fall of '66?
And I was correct. Your first first statement. I never did graduate in Stanford.
I got in the master's program and played was able to play my fifth year here, provided that I didn't have my degree in those days.
So I bypassed that. It was admitted to grad school, so I have only a master's from Stanford in five years of education. A technicality, but very thankful to a dean, undergraduate dean, showed me how to do that and that it was doable.
I gave me an extra year of tennis, which I, in my profession, I badly needed.
Well, I bet you he's even more grateful to you now as a Stanford dean than a four-year-old.
Well, I say class of '59, that's very fair. Class of '59.
I think '53, and coming up in a couple of weeks.
But in any case, during your years as the head coach of the Stanford team, it's just astonishing what kind of record you accumulated along with those teams.
You retired in 2004 with 17 NCAA team titles, and an overall record of 766 wins versus 148 losses.
And anyone who knows anything about sports knows that that's an almost obscene kind of proportion-winning proportion.
Your teams have won 88 of 99 NCAA Championship team matches, and you coach 10 NCAA singles and 14 NCAA doubles championship players and so on and so forth.
So, let's jump right into it. My first question for you is, it's clear that from a record like this, that there's some deliberate method or strategy that you brought to bear to bring out what I have to assume was the best in the players that you recruited here on the team at Stanford.
What kinds of things were you, what kind of methods or strategies were you using in order to get these players to play at such a high level so consistently year in and year out?
Well, first, I'll let you see. I didn't, I myself didn't win any championships. I was lucky enough to have some, some be able to attract some very great players at Stanford.
Stanford had always had a very solid tennis program, but there was a gigantic discrepancy between the one and two teams in the country and those days you see UCLA basically from World War II on and everyone else in the field.
And it was thought really to be impossible to get up to the plane they were at by anyone else and we were all playing for third or fourth or fifth place.
I just had a tremendous belief in Stanford and as a school educational system, the location of geography, the facilities and I felt that it should not be too hard nor should the be any reason we could not attract the best players who also were good students to come to Stanford.
So that was my goal. It was pretty rough at the start and about about two thirds of the losses you mentioned were in my first five years as we were forming the team and gradually getting a little bit better.
And tennis recruiting is a, it's not anywhere near as difficult as some of our, some of our sports like football or basketball. We have the advantage of 17 sections in the United States.
Each section is age group competition from senior events on down to 12 and under 14 under 16 under 18 and under young people.
They play each other in their sections throughout the year, especially in the summers and as they finish through year they're ranked in a section.
The top ranking player is then go to national play against the top players from other sections and they get national rankings.
So as opposed to other sports, we have to study a lot of film and try to see a lot of club tournaments or workouts in my sport. I would pay more attention to the rankings and try to measure those results in terms of what's inside somebody rather than how pretty they look on the court.
And so many times that you get caught up and looking at the person who's very quick on his or her feet who has a tremendous touch, a tremendous feel for the ball.
But that person might lack that internal something that makes them a winner and a great competitor.
And that usually is borne out by the records and I must say that in my recruiting I miss some kids who develop late and that's a danger in doing what I did as far as my recruiting goes and relying so heavily on the rankings.
But with that in mind we were able to attract these people to Stanford. That's the first part.
The second part is they have to improve when they get her award will get out that they could not do that in this environment.
And the third thing is that beyond Stanford they had to perform well and to show that they were being prepared for a life beyond Stanford if they so chose in their sport.
So on this question of reliance on records, it's interesting that you'll bring that out because a lot of people in your position I imagine would want to take credit for having that very special eye that sees the hidden talent in athletes before anyone else does and even though they're ranking might not reflect it.
You can imagine a coach saying I saw a potential in there early on when no one else did and I brought it out and then you know you can't have the ending.
No magic from my standpoint. It's it's it's such a great university and the requirements for admission are so high it's so competitive that that missions really does my job for me and I always felt that.
Of the top five high school seniors in the country probably one on the average of being have a good chance for admission to Stanford in terms of academics grade point average and test scores and maybe another person in a second five in a real good year maybe three of the top 10 high school players in the country would be academically.
We're the applying to Stanford and have a chance for admission. My job then would be to be sure I got those people and I think really Robert in the last probably 35 years of my coaching. I think I only missed one one player in the country who went to college who was admitted and offered a full scholarship but who went elsewhere.
Is that Todd Martin by any chance?
I actually tied was a little bit late developing I never recruited Todd and I missed out and I really jumped on a really great player.
I believe it was John Ross who went to SMU his coach was Dennis Ralston and Dennis just to a great coach and great player and Dennis just taking the job at SMU and I believe he was the only one that turned me down and and that's why I was successful.
Okay well I have two questions you said that for you it wasn't a consideration how pretty they looked on the court or how well they moved and the but it was more their pragmatic achievement the results of the game.
So the question is first does the style of play that a player has have any bearing on the performance in the sense that it's this is actually a more general question for you about tennis.
For example Roger Federer is not only he's maybe the greatest player ever played the game but everyone keeps remarking on how beautiful he looks when he's doing it how graceful he is and how well as you said pretty he looks on the court.
Is there some correlation that if you're playing the game at the highest possible level it also looks beautiful to the spectator.
I don't think that's necessarily so I think that's just a sign of an outstanding athlete unfortunately tennis at least in the United States does not attract the majority of the better athletes like in other countries where maybe tennis is competing for soccer with soccer for one's interest and maybe no other sports are only one of two of the sports.
I think the best analogy that the sport is getting the best athletes in the United States really is basketball and I think the NBA and the WNBA have just to watch their players play and what they do on the court.
It's just beautiful to watch and I think that's just a case of multiplying Roger Federer times a number of people but there's someone something inside someone like Roger Federer or a Tiger Woods who is a Stanford for two years if you wish that sets them apart.
And it really is remarkable and if you could clone that or you could figure out what it was then I think you would be a great coach but it's an intangible and I'd never other things being equal I guess the second thing I would look for if I had to pick between two people I didn't have that luxury usually for a full scholarship because of our mission requirements.
But if I had to pick with between two people I would look secondly for what kind of doubles results they'd have doubles is a very important part of college tennis and important part of tennis anyway and playing doubles really helps your single skills as well so that would be a secondary factor.
Of course when you're recruiting only a handful of people each year you get to know their families pretty well and I think family background really speaks a lot to the young person.
And I must say I enjoyed my recruiting because it wasn't there was not such a volume that I could not get to know the people and I still think the parents of the young people who did not come to Stanford for whatever reason or could not get admitted to Stanford who I did talk to I still retain friendships with majority of those people I enjoy I enjoyed recruiting and it was not a chore in my particular sport.
You mentioned earlier that it was imperative that once you did successfully recruit your top choices that they improve once they got here.
How did you pursue that agenda of getting them to improve?
I think maybe to a fault I was probably a little bit hung up and trying to correct in my mind their quote weaknesses rather than on emphasizing improvement of the strengths that was my approach most most young people who come to school have areas of the game they can really improve upon I probably have had a handful of players the most who were fundamentally so solid that there was very little I could do.
I remember I started out I was a good college player but I never played in the summer there was no pro tour in those days.
Now anyone can play as a pro in the summer in the different levels of professional events.
I was working in the summers and only played during the year on the college team but I was able to get better with this opportunity even though it might be a little bit limited but I was not a great player.
So for me to come along and to recruit someone without any playing without any name playing background was a little bit difficult and I had to convince them that I knew a little bit what I was talking about their games would not get lost here.
And you forget that you grow as a person you grow as a coach we're always trying to better ourselves you're always looking at the guy next to you the office next door and whatever profession it might be your competitors your friends your family.
In my case the parents and coaches of the players I had the pleasure of working with and these are the people who influenced what I did and I would hope that I was a much better coach when I finished and when I started I hope that I got better each year I had some more than I had to do.
I had some great players in my first years and frankly I wasn't really qualified to handle them but they did improve.
I had some very good players who came in as great players fundamentally sound like Alex Sandy Mayer his dad was his coach and just a great coach and every day every spring his dad would come out and visit Sandy and
he both of them became top 10 world players and once a brand slams and doubles and he was a Wimbledon semifinalist.
And I would sit as close to his court as he was working with the sun as possible and I think he probably above all else at least equally to the coaches I had as a youngster and in college influenced what I did and how I did it and I was very lucky to have that opportunity other others as well but Sandy was certainly one of the handful of players that came to Stanford.
That's what I would call a quote complete player quote.
Dick, is it fair to say that you have a distinctive you're known for a distinctive style for the tennis team at Stanford which is one of moving to the offense as quickly as possible within a point.
So I'd like to talk a little bit here now about the technicalities of coaching and they a strong sort of preference for a serve and volley.
Type of attack game. Is that fair to say?
Absolutely. I think that if there were a trait that characters might characterize my coaching would be that of making something happen and not being the passive person waiting to react to something.
That in this case was emphasized by what was really the style of play of the day when I was playing and that was to serve and volley to get on the return to get into net behind the return not only just the short ball that happened in a rally or the short ball that you set up in a rally.
But to take it to your opponent any chance you get and of course that stops starts with the first ball you hit which is a serve and if not then the second ball you hit which is the return.
So that was my style of play and I firmly believed that ironically Robert when players came to Stanford they're 18 year old young men and many of them have been had been taught the ball too volley well and pretty good overhead but they really hadn't put it all together yet.
So I felt that I had a tremendous role to play in giving them the confidence as well as developing the skills of the net play and putting it into use in precious situations.
One tremendous advantage that a student has who chooses to go to college rather than straight out to the pro tour is that the college coaches can coach at any time during the match as long as it does not interrupt play.
So I could then as a coach ask a player to from behind the fence or even from the court to serve by sick I could do it by signal or a little voice.
Where to serve what kind of served hit a kick or a wide slice or a ball in tight to the forehand.
That would be an example of calling the pitches like a catcher would in baseball.
The I could tell them that I want them to come in behind the return on a second serve on a certain point to hit down the middle and come in or hit it behind them at the opponent and come in.
And the poor player of course I would probably drive them crazy because here is this coach telling me every ball they hit before it will hit before it point starts what the coach wants them to do and the other side of that is you'd like to see the players develop their own style but I honestly felt that if I let them develop their own style.
They would never develop into the kind of aggressive player that I wanted and certainly out of the majority of their comfort zone.
So if they did come to net on a serve and ball a's example the ball went sailing by them for a winner.
They would look at me and and be a little bit a grand that I had called that but it was my mistake not theirs.
So I was able then not only to in practice set up situation were were by for 15 minutes we would do nothing but serve and volley or come in to net behind every second serve return.
Or whatever the case might be but then I could carry this over into a match by being sure they did in a match.
So this was a tremendous opportunity and the beauty of my job was that by the time they were halfway through a sophomore year and if I were a great coach they would have been able to do it sooner or at least by the time they started the junior year.
I would start to tell them what to do and they would already be doing it they they had picked up that style of play and that was very rewarding.
I must say that this also has spoiled me totally as a spectator because in essence when you do this you're playing the match and you're thinking ahead you're trying to spot your opponents weakness you're trying to see as a coach you have more confidence in your players really than they might even in themselves when they're trying to do something new or for the first time and have only done it before in practice.
And so it was really fun to me for me to map out a strategy to see if it worked if not to go to plan B if not to go to plan C and have players who had the background and versatility to have a plan B in a plan C.
And when I watch tennis now I love to watch artistically a player like Federer or I love seeing clusters back at the open to see how well she played back there she was moving marvelously.
It was just but it's boring other than to watch it as an asset from an aesthetic standpoint and I think only those people who've had the chance to coach during matches can really appreciate that what a thrill it is and you become the player again and I really like that.
Well I am also used to be anyway an aggressive serve and volume probably because I didn't have the ground strokes necessary to win on a consistent basis points from the baseline against people who are far more steady and consistent than I was.
But also I think by temperament there's something about the serve and volley game that makes the game of tennis much more exciting when as a participant because as you mentioned when you make a decision to commit to go into the net you don't know what's going to happen.
There in no man's land and it's I'm always fascinated by the by the actual literal split step as well as what the split step means metaphorically for other situations in life.
Where you're rushing the net and you take that split step before your opponent hits the ball so that you're ready to go in either direction you can go right left high low and you know it's that that moment of sheer potentiality that hasn't yet become a reality for a split second.
And there's something thrilling about it I think as a participant but also as a spectator because a person has put himself completely on the line.
And you can get past and it can be very hard on your ego and you can look ridiculous if you know when it fails but if you win more points of the net than you lose and I guess you're doing all right.
And there's something heroic about that style of play how much resistance did you encounter in your earliest decade of as a coach among young players because I'm sure this resistance became greater and greater as as the years went on.
But you know back in the let's say the early 70s was it as much of a challenge to get you know kids to the net.
That's a good question Robert it actually would be the opposite.
The style of playing those days was more serve and volley and and and not so much rally in about court.
So this is a ball even though even though these young players at that age had not really mastered that or done that enough to make it a part of their game.
So they were rather easy to convince to do that.
That's what I assume that there were probably much easier to convince back then than they became subsequently.
Exactly and I was very proud of the fact that every player that we had who we had that won a national championship and singles was a serving bally player until Bobby Brian came along and won it in 1998.
We talked you had a beautiful description of the of the transition area of tennis where everything is kind of upward rabs and and when you see a Boris Beck were our staff on Edberg or a Pete Sampress or a Martina nover to Lova or a Billy Jean King.
Oh yeah beautiful react at that instant instant to the volley and and be out there naked and understand the ball may go by them there's nothing can do about it but but not give up on it come back with a different shot or a different angled volley or a deeper volley or a ball.
The next time we're a different serve to figure out how best to put the different parts of a serving volley game as an example.
It's much different than just serving and voling there's so many fats as if you have to try before you actually give up on it.
And I'd love to watch the players diving for the volleys and recovering for the next shot and they're touched and they're power at the net if you wish as well.
It just was an exciting time I felt of the twins I've had the good fortune to coach seven players I guess who've gone on to be number one in the world in doubles.
And and frankly college tennis was where they learned the doubles there were forced to play doubles in college on the pro tour they might not have played as much.
In fact thinking back to John Macon Rowan College he was only at Stanford for one year of her both of his brothers graduated in four.
But the one year he was here he played so much and the year the summer before he came he was a Wimbledon semi finalist did well in the US open and throughout the summer but he played a lot of competitive tennis in the spring and through the summer so I gave him the fall off.
But I certainly was not responsible for serving volley skills but frankly when he came to school he too preferred to stay on the baseline.
I can't believe that and it just was a matter giving a little extra confidence to get in there and firm his volley of some I I I I had nothing to contribute to John's improvement as a player he was just a great talent.
Well here we can raise the larger question of the state of men's and women's tennis but let's stick with the men first because they had more consistent serve and valuors in the past than the women and you had the Martina and
the Martina and who set check woman who won Wimbledon one year after. Yes yeah after heartbreaking loss and yeah she was also an aggressive serve and valuorance up but in the men's game it gets for me more and more boring although I guess one has to learn how to appreciate the baseline game for all this complexity and subtlety and athleticism that's involved in it but.
You know in not to too distant past at the end of a Wimbledon tournament you look at the grass between the service line and the net and that after two weeks is what was the most worn part of the lawn.
And you know the baseline had some it was worn but not nearly as much as that space between the service line the net now you look at a Wimbledon tournament after two weeks that part between the service line and the net is completely pristine and the baseline is completely blanched with where.
So the serve and volley game is becoming an it has been an endangered species for for a while but it looks like it's really on the on the path towards extinction now what what is responsible for that.
Is it that it's no longer possible to effectively serve and volley against the powerful returns of players today or the.
Racquetec knowledge your or. That's a great question and and I think that.
There are several answers I think you just name one of them the equipment is better the courts are a little slower.
After World War two and so then California example a court's reconcrete they were.
They didn't have in those days resurfaced materials they would go in and sand blast the cement to slow it down after it got fast but in the meantime it was like last.
So to try to have a long rally night kind of surface including the Stanford courts when I was playing here was almost impossible.
So the courts are slower by resurfacing now in the acrylic they can put in different grant size granules of sand they can put in more sand per square inch which can control the speed of the surface.
So it's a more much more medium speed now compared to the past.
The rackets are bigger the sweet spot is bigger there's less chance you can hit the wall of center and still hit a good shot the rackets are different than the wood rackets although.
I must say without jumping off the ground when you have used to have to keep your foot in the ground as you did when Pontrygon's all is playing.
That Pontrygon's all is in his wood rack it could serve about as hard as as anyone can the day.
Excuse me it was her rule that you had to keep one foot on the ground.
It used to be that was put fall to the front foot came off the ground and now and so the back foot will always come across and that was your first step to net.
Now of course that that rule no longer it hasn't been an effect for a long time but now you can hop and you're half if you were going to serve them all you you have a yards head start because by hopping you're taking the ball a little sooner into the court and and I would think that would be more of an advantage to one.
The game has changed I think a lot of it besides surface and equipment is a state of mind.
So so many of our great players in the world now are not from America there was a time in the early 80s where we had.
Eight Stanford players are former Stanford players in the final 32 of Wimbledon.
The next year I think we had four who reached at least the quarterfinals of Wimbledon and those days they're not they're not they're not that many of them are we had 100 100 players regularly ranked in the top 10 players at least.
ranked in the top 100 in the world who had been who had played at Stanford.
But now they're not 10 players in the United States ranked in the top 100 in the world and I think it's more like five or six that didn't give a year.
And with rottic dropping a little bit in the rankings around number five or so now and Blake dropping out of them I don't query has a chance but here's this great big guy with this big serve and I look at this talent and think oh my gosh you'd only gone to college for a couple of years.
And it really tried to perfect a serving volleyball game.
I wonder what he would be doing and we don't have a chance to find out right now.
I think the best example I can think of is that in 2002 Pete Sampress when you was open over Agacy.
He did it primarily with a serving volleyball game still in those days with the big rackets and service being no different than it is now.
So I think there's definitely a place and I would love I would love to take a good talent and start them with a serving ball.
I would like to start them with a serving volleyball technique at a young age 16 years old or so.
And not just try to keep them to hit the ball teach them to hit the ball one more time and the other guy.
I just don't I think now the pressure is so great for instance success.
That this transition time two years it takes minimum to become a good serving vollier.
People are afraid to let it let it affect their rankings at the moment and I think it will be a long time before we see a player who is a serving.
Who is a serving volley again Phil Dent son.
Tried and I see if he got hurt and he's still trying to get back injury.
He had a good open actually this year he qualified and I think he might have went around but but he.
I think he got to the fourth round did he go to third or fifth for him.
But it's we have a lot more Europeans playing now South Americans most of them multi South Americans that grew up on clay.
The grips have changed dramatically from when I played the eastern foreign grip was pretty standard now the grips are way over to the western side.
It's a different game largely by the grips.
Different game but I think it's important what you said that it's also a state of mind because the serve and volley requires a certain risk.
And there's this philosophy and how much I love Chris Everett as a person and her style she was a great ambassador for the game.
I associate her with the introduction of this philosophy into tennis of the don't miss philosophy.
And she never did Robert you never did she never did she never did this I know and then all of a sudden now all the almost all the kind of younger girls of women were were
following the Everett philosophy of don't miss just keep that ball one more time than your opponent in the in the court.
And we have these endless you know sort of grew some rallies from the baseline that took the whole risk factor out of it.
Very deliberately and systematically and in the case of young people.
I think that on the one hand you have coaches that are also invested in their early success young people tend to be psychologically more insecure at an earlier age and later and therefore the idea of going to net and exposing themselves to all the uncertainty of what can happen.
When you're not in complete control of that style of play.
You know but I agree with you that if one word to be able to develop some young players in the serve and volley game I think it could be hugely effective against the style of play that most people are using these days in the men's game.
I was doing a jektir for a minute you you you do know tennis well and my wife who teaches a classes and for physical education on campus has seen you play off and she says you are an outstanding serve and volley player so.
I had a student who was on the women's tennis team I don't know if you remember lack me poor Rory I saw her two days ago did you wish you on campus yes well I haven't seen her in years and she went on you know to become a pro and she cracked the top 100 and so forth.
And she when I when she was my student she had come to Stanford you know with a two handed backhand and a certain kind of don't miss philosophy.
And she wanted to change her game radically and she ended up writing an honors thesis under my direction this is not the student I mentioned in my intro by the way but she she wrote a.
And honors thesis on the state of women's tennis and did a whole history this is where the Chris everything comes in.
She tried to switch from a two handed backhand to one hand backhand and become a servant volley and things and there was so much pressure from her parents the coaches the things because it was costing her matches at the in the present.
But she wanted to give herself that time that it would have taken to do so but it ended up that she didn't have that luxury ultimately and if she was going to go on the pro tour as she did she reverted to her one you know two handed backhand and the baseline game and I always found that a great pity she she would have loved to.
And she would have been great at it as well I think it's it's hard now because we have a whole generation of new coaches young coaches who have.
Not certain of all I did basically basically in back quarters and I can't say I don't enjoy watching a federal versus in the doll match that match up is so fat so interesting.
It's very compelling to me.
But you look at someone like Lex Man and she really could have been a great certain baller and I think she would have made a real mark probably a bigger mark internationally if she had done such.
We didn't instant conversation yesterday Robert if you remember you you posted a question that that I had never considered and that was that you felt the two handed back in the predominance of two handed backhands is really restricted to serve and volley as well.
And and I had never I've never heard that before and I thought that was a very very astute statement and.
For me I'm just bullheaded you know get the net go ahead and do it and I haven't really thought about why someone might not do it.
I did and most people did but people have started the game so young in my day I started 11 that was not an uncommon age the real.
The people started really really started nine but.
Now with this quick start program that the United States well all the United States copy from many other countries and even before that people were starting with these rackets that were over sized in those days and they had to have two hands to hit it they couldn't hold the racket otherwise.
And so you can see how the as the age for starting tennis became younger how much more compelling it was to start with two hands and.
I don't think that a certain ball you I do believe you can more thought about the question you pull as yesterday I do I don't think that having a two handed backhand.
Would necessarily restrict your serving volley in fact when I teach a two handed backhand I like to have the grip.
Of the right hand if you're right handed changed a little bit toward a Easter backhand grip at least toward a continental so that this lights becomes easier.
Which really the grip that people be using on this serve so I don't think necessarily all he really made me lose lead last night ponding your suggestion I don't think that that necessarily is a restriction on serving in.
Not necessarily I just was.
I guess not knowing any two handed backhand.
Players who are really consistent serve and well absolutely great point the other issue is that I know that Andy Rodick for example when he was coached by.
Steponic I guess for two years which we really tried to get him to.
Slice the backhand you know use the backhand slice and come into the net because that and that was always done with the one hand one handed backhand because the slice works with the one handed backhand and it's the most crucial shot I think in.
In the approach game from the baseline I guess.
Well especially even more now with the link to the back court rallies the players who are really at the top are once you can play defensively and stay in the points and you do that on the backhand side.
Regularly with a slice and under spin shot.
So a little less backswing a little easier time you don't it's just needs you a shot to prepare for.
But I would have one as I got two into players come to Stanford it was not rare to have someone in the top ten United States or top five even who came in without a slice backhand and that was always an experience teaching them to to slice and that it does have a place in their game and that was not unusual to have that that challenge also.
So can we talk about Roger Federer a bit because obviously now we've passed that point of his breaking the all time record of majors championships.
Pete San Francisco record of 14 he finally miraculously it would seem the way his year 2009 began with the loss heartbreaking loss to Nadal in the Australian open.
He would go on to win the French which was the huge hurdle for him in the past and also Wimbledon breaking the all time record of Pete Sanpress.
And then he goes to the US open this year and he I thought that he had that match in hand and that he at least psychologically defeated his opponent before the opponent even came out on the court.
And he was up a break in the second set and you know and then up 30 love and then he somehow found a way to lose that game and went on to lose the next nine points in a row or something and he loses a tie break and then he almost comes back and then he loses it again and fifth set.
Well apart from this kind of I don't know if we call it a hiccup but it was very untypical Roger Federer to let a match like that slip away because we know him as an extraordinary champion.
With a great deal of self confidence and once he gets a lead you know no one's going to get the better of him except maybe Nadal.
But bracketing his performance at the open which was an excellent performance I think and maybe until that last match.
What is it about Federer that distinguishes him from these other players all of whom in the top 20 are extraordinary athletes and well trained and and yet sometimes he can demolish them.
With the most extraordinary kind of nonchalance and grace imaginable.
I wonder sometimes and I haven't seen it I'm sure it's public knowledge but I haven't I don't recall reading it but Bjorn Borg's heart rate was very very slow.
And I wonder what Rogers is I imagine it's probably fairly slow as well.
The guy never sweat.
It doesn't seem to do.
I just I it's hard to win consistently I think the way I'm sorry great examples of that they you can't be ready to play every game you.
The NBA and basketball you kind of wait till playoffs or I do at least to really start watching the games because that's when they matter and when people are really starting to play and and everyone the team is is working at a high level throughout the game trying to sustain their.
Their effort the same as tennis you can't win every time you're out it's absolutely impossible and and Roger after Wimbledon and winning the French without Nadal in the field by the way.
Which made it a little easier for him.
I mean he was in the field.
Yeah I need dropped out the French I believe.
Well he got he got beaten by soda Ling I think in the.
Round third round actually right third round I think he was hurting then pretty.
Yes he was hurting as an easy at 10 to 9 to say but then Roger come he in the one of tournaments for the.
In the one of tournaments for the US Open he did okay but there was no great notice there he just kind of knew like the Williams when the finals came around he would be there.
And and I watched him on TV a little bit and I went back for the second week and watched him play sonaling who is a very good player by the way and I thought he was playing all through that tournament when I saw him play and seeing the match of sonaling a very very high level.
I felt it would take a great effort to beat him but but in sport anything can happen and the portrait the portrait portrait is a an outstanding player and very talented and he was really fun to watch he had a great match before that I don't know whether it's a bit chilli
Corcans also I can't remember.
Gonzalez having a.
But a really strong match and everyone said he's he was going to be a factor in the match and here's Roger kind of coasting the first set close but winning the big points and putting himself in position when the second and.
And the announcers on TV and I was home by that time but they're saying they were saying well Roger wins the second set he never loses and and.
And this could be fairly quick and I don't know and then and to me almost look like Roger lost interest he would try a drop shot at kind of an in-opportunetime or.
It's almost like in his mind the term was going in and Sunday he back with his twin twins and his wife and well his wife was hit the tournament but.
But but it almost looked like his clock had run out for the tournament when the clock ran out he ran out and it was a remarkable turnaround I think he'll look back on it in years to come and say oh my gosh there's one that I get away.
Yeah he almost looked really not relieved but he didn't look devastated at all after the loss unlike previous ones no he didn't I can't say Joe was the right word but again this is just such a great gentleman ambassador for the sport he and it all both are such great people in terms of.
Keeping wins and losses in perspective and I think they really teaches all a great deal about competing in life as well as on the court and.
We can learn from them just TV just it tells us too many bad things and who tells us too many bad stories about what we call sport which in effect is is not sports which is great to have.
Two people who have their values in in line and respect for the opponent and honor the game as well as they do for all our sport and for young people as well especially.
I agree but going back to fetter just from the technical point of view for a second because that grace I think that he's famous for probably has to do with the fact that he never looks like he's rushed.
And that if I can ask you as a coach is that do almost primarily if not exclusively to the fact that he has most extraordinary footwork.
Of any player so that he's taking all these steps very many steps very quickly and he's putting himself in the right position to hit a ball before.
But before he's too late on it.
I read somewhere I think it was a New York Times during the open some analyst coach saying that he there 15 different kinds of people that he uses to demonstrate.
Footwork for a backhand for a log for this and that and the other he said he could use fetter for all 15 positions for a footwork that's how good his footwork is.
People forget that the game starts with it really starts with your feet and if you can run you have a chance to win at any level and he just runs beautifully so efficient on the court.
His movement is just superb and and again if you go back to certain volley he moves so well.
He used to serve him volley more than he does now but he he's so good in the transition area on the way to the net because footwork that there's a fellow.
What not long ago is it Wimbledon serve 50 aces in one match there's a guy who's serve is not the most overpowering but certainly effective enough to let him serve him volley a little more.
But why would he do it is when he now is one more than anyone ever in and you won't see it other than just a baby as you say he gets a little bored and just something to try to win it's a while almost.
But you hardly ever hear his tennis shoes quick.
No in court.
Incredible movement on the court better than anyone more efficient than anyone.
He actually as he prepares for his shots also he he doesn't have his forehand is a great forehand but it's not a gigantic swing.
His backswing is fairly compact.
He's surely not afraid to hit it.
He's not saying go for shots that we all have it on key points where he loses it's all over and he has that we're with all with him.
I'm so sure that makes a lot more often than you miss is it just an incredible competitor but the beauty in watching him in his movement and you're right every phase of the game is something to behold.
Are you one of those people who believe that it's not possible really to compare players of different epochs so that we can't say Federer is the best of all time or that it's not.
We can't compare someone like Federer to Rod Laver or Vann or Tilden or is there some kind of objective measure which would enable us to make a statement like well.
Yeah maybe Roger Federer is the best player of all time so far.
Well I think Roger would have been a great player in any era with a wood racket or a snowshoe or whatever he had.
He would have been very hard to beat.
I mentioned icons in the same breath I would say we lost a great one a couple weeks ago when Jack Kramer passed and we'll be going to a service on Saturday and in respect for a fellow who was great for the game and a fellow who actually helped me a lot of young player as a young coach get started and gave me some great advice and always had a little bit of time for me which I really respected and I've never forgotten.
He was another great too and I think that these players that when you mentioned who hold was another one.
Roger Federer in that time would have been equal to them at least as well.
So when it comes to collegiate sports would you still encourage young people who have as their ambition to become pro tennis players to go through the discipline of college going to college?
That's a great question.
I think you have to have that motivation academically in the past.
You and all of a sudden become 17 years old and say I want to go to college.
Fortunately in a sport like tennis most parents do have a value of education and most of the kids even though there is more and more homeschooling now because of the schedule for junior tournaments it's the only with the players can keep up.
There's more and more homeschooling. That isn't necessarily bad and some homeschooling programs can be very, very good.
But you hate to see, well I can't say you hate to see because we're also used to the norm and we get a little bit outside of our comfort box and just because something is different we tend to look down on it.
There are different ways to get educations.
But I would say if someone is basically interested in academics and does want to learn that to bypass a college education at least to the extent of getting head start on it by attending for a couple of years.
It would be a crime. I don't care how good you are. I must say that my players who's peers have gone right out on the pro tour.
My players have been in school for two or three or even four years within 18 to 24 months of caught up with those players and our fresher they develop their game.
We're practicing 2 and a half hours a day, maybe three. I think that's plenty for any sport.
We don't have as many injuries as there are in the tour because we're not stressing their body as much.
And you know who's to say that a four-year education is better than a three-year education. A lot of people get as much out of teachers as other people get out of four.
Really that four years allows you to go to grad school. I'm very proud of the players like Tim Mayot, like just recently Jared Palmer who've gone out and been grand slam champions and singles or doubles.
And who have come back to Stanford after 10 or 12 years in a tour and got in a degree. Players like Roscoe Tanner, Jeanie Mayor, Sandy Mayor, turned pro after three years of college, but they stayed in school their fourth year, played six months as a pro.
Where they were ahead in school, so they were able to graduate in two academic quarters. And I'm very proud of that.
How can you judge John McInover, turning pro after one year, adversely.
He won a million dollars in prize money alone as first 12 months on the tour. And he also continues to be very, very intelligent person in terms of his broadcasting. He comes across well. He's taught us all about a lot of things. He's learned a lot about life.
Education through. And received education through the tour in a lot of ways too.
So I can't judge whether it's bad or good. I would be. And his brother, by the way. Well, Patrick's, he's just two brothers. Mark and Patrick both graduated in Stanford. Patrick, by the way, is being inducted into North Stanford Hall of Fame in November.
Deservedly so.
Yeah, he's just done. He won a grand slam championship in doubles. He was not a great singles player. I think it's highest ranking was 27, but a good player, but that's not bad.
But he also he he is a great. He's become a great broadcaster as well. He's got his hands in every phase of tennis.
He was tremendous Davis cup captain. He's ahead of all of our junior development program now in the United States.
Couple of other Stanford players, Martin Blackman is his right hand man for trying to find talent to may out. Now I was going to work for the USDA under Patrick as well.
And so it has a decidedly Stanford Stanford field to the USDA program. And I would hope that what they learned here at Stanford is members of teams and as players and competitors and and also in terms of the technique will carry over and help them in developing this program.
Well, when one says Stanford tennis, you know, around the world, everyone thinks immediately Dick Gould because you've been the one behind all that success of the players either as pros or as the teams that have done that. And I don't know how you did it, Dick, but it's really extraordinary accomplishment.
I really honored to have had you on the show and I hope our listeners have made if they were tuning in because to learn how to hit a backhand better.
They will have to come here on site, but my goal in life now Robert is to get you to play those with me someday.
I'll do that. I'll do that because I agree with you that doubles isn't is kind of necessary pedagogy certainly for the volleyball game.
You know, I just I've really enjoyed being here and I just I want to speak a little bit for my university. It's just by been here now 43 years and five more years as a student.
So for total of 48 and I just can't think of a more invigorating, challenging, positively challenging environment for a young person at such a critical age 18 to 22 and beyond to to live and to experience and this University gave me a chance in so many ways.
And I'm so thankful to it and always hope my players are feel very, very indebted to what Stanford has given to me and to each of them.
Well, they keep coming back so I think it's a sign that they are fully cognizant and grateful to it. And another thing I we neglected to mention is the success you've had in terms of building the tennis facilities here with the Taub donation and the fact that we in 2011 we're going to host again the NCAA championships.
So really excited about that. This was the first time the men and women and we went together that was in 2006 at the Toby tennis center and we'll be doing that again. Ted Toby was a tremendous benefactor of our program, but I'm just a proud of the extremely high percentage of our foreign players who have given back to the program as well to help us develop this facility and to keep Stanford tennis strong.
So I should mention that although you're retired as the coach of the Stanford tennis team you are the director of tennis here at Stanford so you're still very much involved in the day to day things that take place associated with your name and history.
So thanks again for coming on Dick we've been speaking with Dick Gould the coach of the Stanford tennis team now director of Stanford tennis. It's been a pleasure.
My pleasure Robert. Thank you.