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The Chaser’s Guide to Raising a Tennis Prodigy
Nick Kyrgios was brought up knowing the true meaning of the word 'win.' With a little luck, your child could turn out like him.

There isn’t a single tennis star who wasn’t nurtured from birth. Singles Tennis is a team sport that involves a committed parent and a cooperative child. This is how your team can become number one.

1. Start young
A child can play tennis at three or four years of age, however, a child can hear the dapper applause of centre court from the womb. There’s nothing wrong with the child’s first words being ‘winner’, ‘ace’ or even ‘asshole.’ Your child can begin to foster a true love of the game as soon as he can support his or her head, and stare at the television. Word-association can also be a helpful tool as soon as the child develops language. Associate ‘winner’ with “good”, and ‘loser’ with “shame”. Stigma is a powerful mentor.

2.Isolate, isolate, isolate
Some people believe practice is the key to success, but isolation is as necessary as a racquet, a ball and an entitled attitude. Children absorb their surroundings, so isolate them from their peers and the “normal” thinking that entails; your child’s not going to be normal, because no-one wants to live in a normal house with a normal income. This is about being exceptional. Just as Truman Burbank’s world was walled by water, teach your child that ‘the world ends at the baseline.’ One traumatic event beyond the clay is all it takes.

3. A coach counts as a friend
Isolation can bring loneliness and you don’t want your child dying their hair black and listening to My Chemical Romance. To ensure that they don’t feel lonely, encourage a close nurturing friendship with their top-tier coach. What more could a friend do for another friend than catapult them to greatness? Not much. The only real friend to a 12-year-old is an angry 45-year-old Yugoslavian man named Viktor.

4. Physiotherapy and Psychotherapy
For a growing body to be subjected to 30 hours of tennis and eight hours of off-court training a week is tough on the body and mind. Injury can hinder greatness, as can mental illness. Viktor might be your little one’s friend, but his abuse should be your psychotherapist’s problem. Get your kid on that couch for a minimum of five hours a week. Find a therapist aligned with your goals. Otherwise they may align to your child’s goals and desires. This can destroy your project faster than you can say “self-actualisation”.

5. Hormones?
Everyone’s taking them. You got a problem with that?

6. Tuning everyone out
This step is for you, the parent/coach/head of finances – a lot of people are going to doubt you while you’re on this journey. Criticism can cut. Remember, they’re just losers who were coddled as a child and had ‘friends’, an ‘education’, and ‘leisure time’. Don’t choke.

Did you know? It is possible for a child or teenager to seek legal emancipation and be declared an adult before age 18, although the process can be difficult. If you’re facing this problem, seek an injunction against your child, and cut off their access to funds to prevent them from seeking competent legal advice.

7. Play the blame game
Humility is the enemy of success. Take a lesson from Donald Trump and point that finger everywhere but at yourself and your child. Some call it ‘narcissim’. You and your cash cow can call it ‘fake news’.

8. Public life
To heighten marketability, an open and tumultuous public life is necessary. No-one likes someone who plays it straight and is polite to the crowd. Women’s Weekly definitely isn’t putting that on the front page. Marrying Bec Hewitt was Lleyton’s greatest win. Find your kid a soapie star – and groom.

9. Reap the rewards
Your investment has paid off, your little worker bee has made millions and it’s time to cash in. Guilt your child into buying you a canal-frontage on the Gold Coast. Travel the world. Buy shares in Adani. Get into bodybuilding. Date a reality TV star. Launch a cookbook. Try out religion. Transition. Commission an autobiography (Peter FitzSimons would be ideal). Remember to thank yourself every day for your hard work, because your child probably won’t.

Sound like you?
A dedicated tennis parent will be exclusively and excessively close to their child and may be envious of, and threatened by, their child’s desire to be a mediocre nobody. To apply go to tennisaustralia.com.au

This article originally appeared in The Chaser’s Guide to Bad Parenting (CQ7): buy it here. 


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