This is why Kings of Tennis is important for Swedish Tennis

What really is Kings of Tennis? Well it’s a tournament on the Champions Tour, where former superstars play matches of high quality and where the spectators also get the type of light-hearted show that there really is no room for on all the other ATP tours. In my eyes, Kings of Tennis is even more than that.

 

Already now we can say that the sixth edition of the Kings of Tennis gives Swedish men's tennis more publicity than it has had in a very long time. Among others noted, Robin Soderling makes a welcomed return in both newspapers as well as on TV, which ultimately means that, once again everyone talking about Swedish tennis. It is extremely valuable to the sport at a time when today's Swedish players do not reach results that newspaper and television editors consider worth even mentioning.

The tournament is important for Swedish tennis because we get to see  where the entire line of players who made Sweden a major power in the sport. There is a lot of nostalgia and a reminder of how incredibly strong Swedish tennis which in its way should serve as a spur for the current generation of players.

This is probably also the case for many of them but I have also encountered the players, their parents and / or coaches who believe that history is a burden on the current generation and therefore as far as possible should not be mentioned.

They simply want to hear as little as possible about what the Borg, Edberg, Wilander and the other stars accomplished and think that it would benefit today's players.

Sorry, but you will not find better excuses as to why the desired results are achieved, it is better shoot for different career.

Think if Mats Wilander and Stefan Edberg would have been hampered rather than spurred by Bjorn Borg's success. What if Thomas Enqvist and all the others allowed themselves to shrink instead of grow when they arrived after Wilander and Edberg.

There are of course many reasons why Sweden in the 1980s was the world's leading tennis nation and a contributing factor is undoubtedly that the talents that arrived managed to take advantage of their predecessors' success.

After Robin Soderling stopped playing for almost six years ago, Elias Ymer and the others in the current generation unfortunately have no one at the top to look up to and instead of a fixed star is now around the 150-ranked Elijah who is first in the track. It exposes him for a press as a player with this type of ranking should be able to avoid, and it also means that ranking as number one in Sweden does not function as role model for the younger talent in the same way as the Swedish superstars have done over the years.

Swedish tennis is what it is today and how we twist and turns in it, no one can say that the situation is good.

Trying to embellish the picture by not pretending about the time of greatness and all its blue and yellow stars is counterproductive.

Although it's been a long time since Swedish tennis was at its best it’s the old namesthat return to Kings of Tennis. It's fun for us in the older generation that followed the players' professional careers and it gives today's generation of players and coaches a chance to get a little closer with the former aces.

How good were they really in the glory days? How did they train to be so good? How good are they today?

I wonder how many of today's players and coaches who are interested in the answers. Just as in society in general underestimated experience. Instead of learning from history, invented the wheel and over again - "So where did you perhaps in ancient times, but it's a new era and it requires a completely different mindset."

The gossip part is its own accuracy. Training Models have been developed and refined.

But to train tennis players are is still not rocket science, and that for the sake of rejecting the old, tried to test the new has not resulted in a victorious recipe.  

For the fourth year in a row, Kings of Tennis organizes in cooperation with PCTA and ESTESS, a training conference where the focus of this year's edition is on science, specific practical experience from the world of tennis and international training and certification. Around 120 trainers from ten countries have registered for the conference. (Here you can read more about it).

Bob Brett, Jofre Porta and Judy Murray have all been a lectureres at the former training conferences and have been greatly appreciated and this of course further underlines the imporantance of Kings of Tennis for Swedish tennis.

I freely admit that I was skeptical when Per Hjertquist for a number of years told me about his plans to create a tournmanet for former superstars.

"Stunt-tennis" with games and jokes mixed with some mateches worked admittedly in the US and a few other places but would not work with the Swedish audience.

It had probably would not have worked here either but Kings of Tennis has chosen a different path, and put the sport in the first place. Certainly, we have seen in the five previous years that there have seen a couple of players who apparently did not hear about this, but they are still the exception that proves the rule

The field is not as star-filled as the previous editions. Former world number one and Paris-winner Juan Carlos Ferrero is the most accomplished player and his name matches the of course nowhere near last year's winner John McEnroes.

If we do not see the names, but instead the quality of tennis which has helped to rejuvinate the fiel and increased quality. And then we can determine what one prefers and which of the options to be considered most attractive.

I would like to see in the future a completey ”Swedish” Kings of Tennis and of course, with Björn Borg leading the group. Single, double, a match, a set, no game - it does not matter just that the Swedish audience once again gets the opportunity to pay tribute to one of the greatest players.

Wilander, Edberg, Thomas Enqvist, Anders Järryd, Joakim Nyström, Kent Carlsson, Henrik Sundström Jonas Björkman, Magnus Norman, Thomas Johansson, Robin Söderling, Magnus Gustafsson, Magnus Larsson, Mikael Pernfors, Jonas Svensson, Joachim "Pim-Pim" Johansson - there are a plethora of stars to choose from for a ”Swedish” Kings of Tennis.

Why not play a tournament with the country's best 14-, 15- or 16-year-olds to thereby give young talent the opportunity to bond with the players who created and maintained the Swedish tennis miracle.

It is a far better alternative than to close their eyes to greatness.

 

Jonas Arnesen, Tennis Reporter

Kings of tennis

8-10 Mars 2017