Growing up in Canberra Australia tennis was a huge part of my life. Everyone on my dad’s side of the family and I mean everyone played tennis. My grandfather and grandmother played into there 80’s, an older cousin played pro, a younger cousin played pro, I played pro, my uncle was the director of all junior tennis in Australia at one point and my father was probably the most gifted of all the Manning clan. Wimbledon was the mecca, top of the bucket list. I would dream daily about playing and hopefully winning Wimbledon one day.
As the years pasted on and my competitive playing days came to an end I transitioned into coaching. Wimbledon still remained a part of my DNA. I hoped that one day I would be able to coach at Wimbledon. The coaching years progressed with good experiences and good results but Wimbledon was never really an option. This was partly due to the time of year it is hosted, right in the middle of tennis camps a huge revenue source for myself and the family. As I completed my PhD in applied sport psychology and my ultimate passion in life, human performance, was becoming my vocal point in my life thoughts of Wimbledon become a distant memory until two weeks ago.
Varvara Lepchenko is a professional tennis player that I have been working with for a while. Two weeks ago she asked me to come work with her during the first week of Wimbledon. After all those years of thinking and dreaming of Wimbledon as a child, then a teenager, and finally a young adult then losing those thoughts and dreams and moving on and creating new one’s. I had not thought much about tennis over the last 5 years. Others interests had replaced those kid hood dreams, to the point I really did not think about the opportunity to come to Wimbledon until a day or two before the trip. Even then I kept telling myself that it wasn’t that big of a deal. I was wrong, new goals and passions can occupy our mind but old one’s may not be gone they may still be their in the back of mind patiently waiting for an opportunity to come out.
It was an amazing experience today to be picked up this morning in a Wimbledon courtesy Land Rover. Be driven into the players and coaches entrance of the storied facility, walk the grounds and then finally be able to walk on the amazing grass courts. The whole surroundings has an aura about it that is hard to describe. Overlooking the court we were on today was a small size castle that I believe is a home. It was kind of weird to watch Roger Federer practice. I have long ago moved on from being a fan of any tennis player, any athlete in general for that matter. With age comes a certain level of maturity, but yet I would be lying if I didn’t say that I felt like my teenager self again watching Federer practice. It was even more weird walking in between Novak Djokovic and his hitting partner and excusing myself for the disturbance because I had no where else to go.
Working with Varvara was already a great experience I look forward to seeing what see can do this week and the lessons we will both hopefully learn on the journey towards attempting to maximize our human potential. I guess childhood dreams don’t completely die. I will continue to blog my thoughts on this experience as the week unfolds. Below is a photo of Varvara warming up at Wimbledon with her coach Alberto.