I'll start with one of my favorite article/feature on Lleyton. :angel:
RISE OF A GIANT KILLER
by Leo Schlink
Teenage tennis star Lleyton Hewitt has transformed from promising youngster to national hero in just two years, writes Leo Schlink
Lleyton Hewitt has three passions in life: the Adelaide Crows, golf and winning, though not necessarily in that order.
Adelaide-based Hewitt is hardly unique in the Festival State for his devotion to the Crows. And his penchant for claiming side bets against his father, Glynn, on the golf course is rarely a source of fame either.
But Hewitt's insistence on over-achievement on the international tennis circuit already had become the source of sporting lore.
At 18 he has taken an express route to the upper echelons of the sport, where fortunes and profile are both hard won and easily lost.
Hewitt, who is ranked 31st in the world, has not only already won two tournaments, but has become the Australian Davis Cup spearhead in the absence of Pat Rafter and Mark Philipoussis.
He has also posted victories over world No. 2 Yevgeny Kafelnikov, No. 1 Andre Agassi (though No. 142 at the time), Rafter, Philipoussis, Todd Martin and Cedric Pioline - all bona fide members of the tennis elite - to scuttle emphatically fears he might be a flash in the pan.
In January, Hewitt sentenced Pat Rafter to five days of soul-searching after springing a mammoth first-round upset in the Sydney International at White City. Hewitt brought the two-time US Open champion to his knees when he carved out a comprehensive victory, startling Rafter, who predicts a glowing future for the 18-year-old.
"He played very well and used the conditions perfectly," Rafter said at the time. "I'm not dirty at losing, but deep down I feel I should be out there winning these matches."
John McEnroe, the sport's defining enfant terrible, knows his cattle.
"If Lleyton Hewitt is not in the top 10 by the end of next year, I'll be very surprised." The former world No. 1 said at the US Open.
"He reminds me a bit of myself and he's got the game to back it up."
The provocative Russian Kafelnikov, who vowed to give Hewitt a tennis lesson during the Davis Cup semi-final against Australia at Brisbane's ANZ stadium, learned that to niggle Hewitt was to buy into an argument he could not win.
Hewitt duly belted the Australian Open champion in straight sets last Sunday to fire Australia into the December 3-5 final against France in Paris (Nice), where Hewitt doubtlessly will be summoned to perform more miracles.
Australian captain John Newcombe has spent enough time with Hewitt to understand the reed-thin South Australian possesses all the qualities of a champion.
Time, experience and maturity will enhance nature's generous package.
"He's just a fantastic competitor," Newcombe says.
"He's been on Davis Cup teams since he was 15 watching guys like Pat Rafter and listening and observing.
"He's taken it all in and he's using what he's learned out there on the court."
And it is out on the court that Hewitt has rapidly become the master of his own domain - and master, too, of anybody who should dare to cross his path. Hewitt has always been a combative soul.
As a junior he was renowned - and rebuked - for his feisty personality.
Nothing has changed, not even in the cut-throat world of professional tennis, where the meek and mild are quickly exposed and dispatched.
For Hewitt, life on the professional tour is the opportunity to live out a fantasy.
"I look at my mates going to school and uni and doing other things and I'm sitting down next to Pat Rafter and watching him get ready to go out and play a big match," Hewitt says.
"When I first went on the tour, I wasn't sure what to expect or how I would go.
"Now I feel really comfortable, travelling with 'Killer' (his coach, Darren Cahill) and seeing all the boys.
"Having the chance to play guys like Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi is something that not a lot of people get to do. To be out there and doing that is amazing.
"I'm used to it now, but it's kind of funny thinking back to the start of 1998 when I was ranked 700 in the world and got into the Adelaide tournament, beat Agassi, then won the tournament.
"The whole of last year and this year, until I hurt myself (a severely sprained ankle) has been great. I couldn't ask for anything more."
Hewitt, who is dedicated to the business of fulfilling a childhood ambition of reaching the world's top 10 and winning Grand Slam singles titles, can be found occupying the few spare hours he has on Adelaide's finest sandbelt golf courses.
H drives a snazzy BMW and lives at his parents' West Lakes home with his 16-year-old sister, Jaslyn, who has emerged from her brother's shadow as a leading tennis junior.
Hewitt has neither the time nor the opportunity to accommodate a girlfriend - yet - but his popularity continues to soar.
His presence at a post-match party following the Davis Cup semi-final in Brisbane last weekend was evidence of the following he has quickly built. Hewitt's entry into a sports bar-nightclub was marked with a deafening roar and he soon found himself hoisted high above the heaving throng of revellers, who bounced the jockey-sized teenager on their hands in David Cup's equivalent of the mosh-pit. Hewitt loved it.
"We're going to bring back the Cup this year." He yelled, continuously pumping an upright finger towards the ceiling. "This is the best day of my life."
There is no doubt the ponytailed blond is a favourite with scores of females - young and old. :hearts: :angel:
But from Hewitt's point of view, tennis is his obsession. While he enjoys his golf, football, family and movies, the fanatically organised Hewitt has not found time for the pursuits of a romantic man.
Asked at Wimbledon in July how he felt about being the newest tennis sex symbol - by no higher authority than the august broadsheet, The Times - Hewitt merely laughed off the tag. :angel:
"Yeah, that's great, but I haven't got the time at the moment and I haven't thought about it too much, to be honest," he says.
"If other people want to think that, then that's fine."
Hewitt idolises mercurial Adelaide Crows forward Darren Jarman and can often be found at Davis Cup practice kicking with a Jarman-like accuracy.
If not for tennis, he almost certainly would have continued the family's relationship with football.
Glynn, a former Richmond footballer, and his mother, Cherilyn, a state netballer, now travel with their children to tournaments all over the world.
In many ways the Hewitts are the model tennis family.
And should Lleyton, pugnacious and proud, bear out the predictions of the sport's wise men, expect Tennis Australia to use him as the marketing successor to Rafter in the hope of producing the next Australian champion.
Career Titles: Two - Adelaide '98, Delray Beach '99
Career Prizemoney: $US420,820
Singles Ranking: 31
David Cup Record: 4-0
Wins Against To 10 Players: Pat Rafter, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Andre Agassi, Jonas Bjorkman, Todd
Martin, Mark Philipoussis
Honours: Youngest qualifier in the history of the Australian Open (15 years 11 months).
Third-youngest winner of a singles title in history.
One of my favorite interviews with Lleyton ever! :angel: This was done at wimby 99 after his 1st rnd win. He used to be *VERY* relaxed back then!
Tuesday 22nd June 1999 - Official interview
Q. How was that?
A. Not bad. It's always nice to get through, and, you know, I was a bit nervous going out there the first couple of games, and then things started to get rolling and to have a nice easy win in the first round, in your first main draw at Wimbledon, is always I suppose pretty nice, a good start to get off.
Q. Do you think you'll remember your first Wimbledon match ten years from now, or fifteen years from now?
A. I'm sure I will. You know, I lost five games in that match and, you know, apart from the start, I think I played pretty well. I sort of was trying to attack the whole match and, you know, had him under a lot of pressure, and he was trying to work on other little things to try to mix up his game, I suppose to try to throw mine off. You know, in the future I think it's a good match to remember.
Q. Lleyton, you keep surprising all of us, maybe not yourself, but you know there will be people that say, okay, he's a great runner, he's got great ground strokes, and he really gets into the grass, with a couple of big hitters, with maybe Philippoussis or maybe Pioline and you go and beat them, and then coming here to Wimbledon. How do you account for the grittiness that you are showing this year?
A. I don't know, I just think the courts are playing really nicely and it's sort of playing into my hands a little bit. You know, I've been returning well all year and that's always been a sort of strength of mine, and I mean, it continued there today, even though Filippini wasn't as big a server as Pioline, Sampras or Philippoussis, but against those guys you've got to be on your game and you've got to be returning well and you've got to be seeing the ball well, and I think that's where I've been doing well against those types of guys and, you know, the courts have been playing well enough, I can play from the baseline a lot of the time and I'm trying to sort of pick the short ball, the right ball to come in off and sort of put them under pressure then.
Q. What did you mean by they're playing -- the grass courts are playing into your --
A. Sort of at the moment, I suppose before the courts get cut up a lot, they're sort of pretty high bounces and, you know, pretty true bounces as well, so I'm always getting a good look at a ground stroke to sort of put the pressure on them, I suppose, to make them hit a good passing short.
Q. Did you have any pre-set goals coming into this particular Wimbledon?
A. No, not at all, I'm just taking it one match at a time and I suppose the biggest thing was depending on the draw and you could have been playing Sampras first round, which was always going to be pretty tough task, I suppose, and you know, I got a pretty good draw, I suppose, first round, and I'm glad to get through that one, but, you know, every match is going to get tougher I think from now.
Q. Have you looked ahead into the draw where there's sort of Becker and Rafter?
A. No, not really, I haven't even looked into it. Those guys have got to get there the same as I do, so I'm just taking it one match at a time at the moment.
Q. Is all this fun for you at the age of 18? You could be very easily overwhelmed by the tour, the travel, the names of the players you have to play, Sampras, Rafter, Philippoussis.
Are you finding time to enjoy what you're doing?
A. I'm enjoying it, you know, every week sort of coming here and I suppose 17, 18, you'll be wanting to get Patrick Rafter's autograph and Sampras and Agassi, and I'm out there practising with them and going out there and competing against them. So I've been really enjoying it, I think, you know, ever since I came on the tour when I won Adelaide and it's been -- I suppose I've been improving my ranking every week and sort of getting entry into those bigger tournaments, and they're so much better than playing the Challengers and that, that I played a few last year. So I really enjoy sort of being in the top 35 now in the world.
Q. Have you noticed your opponents knowing more about your game and being better prepared to play you?
A. A little bit, but I think I've had my best results the last few, I suppose, months now, since the Australian Open, or since Adelaide when I made the final there, and I think everyone knew my game pretty well then. I think I've had a lot better year this year than I did last year. So I don't know, I think it helps both ways. I think, for sure, they know my game a lot better, but I think I know theirs a lot better as well.
Q. Lleyton, do you see your size as a limitation that you're going to have to deal with in a way, to do some things to compensate for height?
A. No, a little bit in some ways, but then you look at sort of Andre Agassi and he's won every championship and he's around my height. He's just got unbelievable, I suppose, eye/ball coordination, and, you know, he's the cleanest hitter of the ball and if he can win every Grand Slam, I suppose, on every different surface, I think there's a good chance for everyone, no matter what the height is.
Q. Did you relate to that, watching him win the French Open?
A. You know, it was great, I suppose, to see Andre win the French Open. I think if he didn't win the French Open he was going to be one of the greatest players never to win it. I think that was his third final he'd been in, and, you know, I think for a guy who just goes out there and just plays his game, no matter who he's playing against, I think he really deserves it.
Q. Lleyton, did you relate personally in the sense that, you know, "He's about my size, you know, maybe he's a little bit more muscular than I am right now" --
A. No, I didn't really look at it at all in that way. I suppose a lot of people relate me to either a Chang or an Agassi, someone like that, with the height and the build, and you know, Andre is not the biggest guy out there as well. He would be lifting a lot of weights.
Q. Lleyton, yesterday Anna Kournikova said she's single. How's your status at the moment? Any offers around about the same age? Maybe she's an older woman, I don't know.
A. I'm not sure. I'm single still. I'm not really looking around, though, at the moment.
Q. Hey, mate, this is the best time.
A. I know it is. There are a few decent ones out there, but ...
Q. Lleyton, your country has produced some of the greatest players ever. Have any of those guys talked to you?
A. Yes, you're always talking to, like, Rod Laver was out at Indian Wells watching all the guys and he was there at the French Open, presenting the trophies and stuff and it's just good, I suppose, to speak to those guys and sort of see what they think about your games and stuff like that, and just talk about normal stuff I suppose with them as well, and, you know, all the guys were around the Australian Open as well, and also Wimbledon a lot of the guys come in. You've always got Newc and Rochey around because they're with the Davis Cup and that, but you've got Fred Stolle, all those commentators as well, and I think they're pretty keen to see all the Aussie guys do well and they're out there supporting you, and I spoke to Paul McNamee on the way in, so everyone has tried, I suppose.
Q. There were occasional primal screams you let out at other destinations on this tour. Have you decided you might have to rein those in here at Wimbledon just because of the aura of the tournament?
A. Not really, no, I don't think too many people are going to get put off by them, so I'm just going to play my game and sort of go out there and do what I have to do to win.
Q. What did reaching the semi-final at Queen's Club do for your confidence?
A. That did a lot for my confidence, to come out and beat Mark Philippoussis on grass, you're obviously playing pretty well and really pretty much in my first main draw tournament in grass and coming straight off the clay courts, there was a lot of confidence in that, and particularly I went out there and played my own game. I didn't even have to change my game to play against Mark and also, beating Cedric Pioline, who's been a Wimbledon finalist, it gave me a lot of confidence going into Nottingham and going into the quarter and losing against one of the best grass courters in the game, Greg Rusedski. So I have a confidence going into this tournament.
Q. For an 18 year old who hasn't quite finished high school yet, I think a lot of people think of you as extremely mature for 18 years old. Have you always been this mature, or were you a real hellian when you were a lot younger?
A. I'm not sure. It depends who you're rating with me, I suppose, but a lot of people have said I handle the press pretty well and stuff like that. I think I've been brought up well, I suppose, because I was sort of put in that situation, by Newc and Roche a little bit. I've sort of been the orange boy of the Davis Cup, and then sort of I've been around Patrick Rafter so much and those types of guys when they've had all their success as well. So they've sort of showed me a little bit of the way and I've followed in their footsteps, how to handle all the pressure and all the expectations and doing media and stuff like that.
Q. Your responses to the media, they're not sort of canned, they always seem very honest and almost as if they're extemporaneous, whereas you have a lot of players who come in here and they have canned answers to everyone.
A. I feel comfortable coming into the media, and, you know, it's nothing -- you know, sometimes you don't want to do it, but that's part of being a professional tennis player, you know, and you sort of -- it's always your guys' jobs to do your jobs as well, sort of writing out what I say. So I just come in here, I try to be truthful, and you know, be honest and feel free. :angel: :angel:
Q. If you're not chasing women, what are you doing in your free time to get your mind off of tennis?
A. I've been playing a lot of table tennis, actually. I think I'm all right at table tennis, so I've been playing a little bit of that, and that's about it. I've been on the computer a little bit and playing a golf game on that as well.
Q. Does Newcy and Rochey give you a kick up the bum if you occasionally carry on a bit of on the court?
A. A little bit now and then, but not really. They'll send me down once in a while and talk to me, but they've been pretty positive, I suppose, all the time that I've been working with them, and they've been a big influence in my rise up the rankings so far.
Q. So you can understand how Martina felt in the final?
A. For sure, you know, it's tough coming out here as a teenager, particularly with her, she's got so much expectation on her, and you know, she's still only 18, and, you know, she wanted that French Open so badly I think, and I think everyone feels a little bit sorry for her, because she was that close to winning it, yet I suppose to make another final in her case, where she's just about clearly the number 1 in the world, is a little bit disappointing. :angel: ( How sweet! :angel: See?! This is why Martina "likes" Lleyton LOL! *waiting for QG to @ Martina Hingis!* )
Q. Who were you playing table tennis with?
A. I was playing with Darren and I was playing with John McKerny, my manager.
Q. Was there a little tournament going on there?
A. Not really. There will be soon, though, it is a bit competitive.
Q. What about the other Aussies on tour, Rafter, Philippoussis? Do they play?
A. At table tennis? I haven't played them yet. I'll wait for a challenge.
Q. Did you bring your footy with you?
A. Darren Cane has a footy. It's at my place.
Q. Have you been out for a kick?
A. Where did we go for a kick? We had a kick in Paris. Sort of once I lost there, Scotty Draper and a few of the guys, Muddy Waters who works with all the Australian guys as sort of a fitness dietician, that type of guy, he was out there having a boot as well. He used to play as well.
Q. You can't be happy with the Crows.
A. Not at the moment. I think we're 6 and 7, I think. I think we've got a good chance. I think we've got to win 6 out of the next 10 matches to sort of come down to percentage, I think. In the finals, if we win 7 out of 10 I think we'll be home. If we do make that final 8 we're in with a definite chance.
Q. You pinched the other two. You're not going to pinch another one.
A. We didn't pinch anything, mate. It was great to beat up the Victorians, I can tell you.
Q. Where did you watch the cricket, if you watched it?
A. I watched Pakistan's innings over at Aorangi over here with all the South Africans and all those guys, and then I went back to Advantage, in their house, and watched the Australian innings.
Q. Were you offered a ticket for the final?
A. Yes, I was, actually, by --
Q. You didn't take it?
A. No, I was actually -- I couldn't say no to hitting with Andre Agassi, having a practice session.
Q. You went to hit with Agassi over going to the Australian cricket final?
A. I thought it was going to be a bit one-sided anyway.
Q. Are you serious about that? Did you actually have the choice and picked having a practice with Agassi?
A. Well, I had the choice. They said I could come out in the afternoon if I wanted to, and, you know, it was getting a bit late then, and by then the Australian guys were killing them anyway, so, you know, I think cricket is also pretty good to watch on the TV as well. (Pfff Lleyton giving up cricket finals to hit with DH?! )
I don't know whether I'd be happy or sad Lleyton has confirmed he'll play Hamburg which means he's not playing Rome :sad: I hope he does well there as Hamburg is his only tune up for FO! I can see him playing doubles with Flip to get more matches under his belt for French Open.
Hewitt will play in Hamburg as tune-up for French Open
Wednesday April 23, 2003 11:54 AM
BERLIN (Reuters) -- World No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt has confirmed he will compete in the Hamburg Masters next month, organizers said on Wednesday.
Hewitt said he felt the clay court tournament from May 12-18 was ideal preparation for the French Open in Paris, according to a brief interview issued by the German tennis association.
The $2.45 million Hamburg event begins two weeks before the French Open and is the week after the Rome Masters.
Hewitt, who is threatening to sue the ATP over a fine imposed on him by the world tennis body last year, has appeared in Hamburg for the past three years. His best performance was in 2001 when he reached the semi-finals. Switzerland's Roger Federer won the event last year.
Since there are no new Lleyton articles, I'll post a few old ones from my collection
These are the daily editorials written by Alan Jones from the 2GB talkback radio in Australia. He loves Lleyton :angel:
LLEYTON HEWITT 2 September 2002 (After Lleyton's match vs corncob at USO)
You have to wonder what's up with people about Lleyton Hewitt.
There is no doubt that he is the number one in the world on merit.
He beat that brilliant young American, James Blake.
But Hewitt won - Blake didn't lose.
Hewitt was absolutely brilliant under extreme pressure.
Yet his match didn't go on CBS Television at Prime Time.
They put Martina Hingis and Amanda Coetzer and Jennifer Capriati and Meghann Shaughnessy.
But News Day newspaper said at the weekend that Hewitt had been called "Satan" in Australian newspapers.
That he was "better known for his tantrums than titles".
Where are these people getting all this from?
Is there a campaign somewhere to discredit this kid.
I have never read anywhere where Lleyton Hewitt has been called Satan, and he certainly isn't.
He is a competitor.
A thoroughly decent young fellow who has achieved extraordinary success at the age of 21.
Done things that others haven't done.
It's time that we embraced the young man for the success that he is. :angel:
And stop telling the world how to rubbish him. :worship:
LLEYTON HEWITT 9 September 2002 (After Lleyton lost to DH in the semis of USO)
I thought Lleyton Hewitt was magnificent yesterday.
Agassi was outstanding, but Hewitt couldn't buy a serve for love or money. (No kidding! )
And yet he's taken Agassi at his best right to the wire.
It's interesting that when he was made number 1 at the end of last year, many thought he wouldn't last.
But the dominance of Hewitt is best explained by the rankings points.
Hewitt has 5,205 points.
He'll lose some now because he was beaten in the semi-final.
But the second highest player from today is Tommy Haas, with 2,945 points.
In other words Haas is 2,260 points behind Hewitt.
You go back to 1994 where Sampras held a record 2,412 point lead over second-ranked player Michael Stich.
But not since then, 1994, has a number one player had a bigger break.
By the end of the year Hewitt will still be number one.
And that means he'll have held it for 59 consecutive weeks.
That puts him seventh on the all-time list behind Jimmy Connors, 160 weeks.
And one ahead of the great John McEnroe.
So he's already the most dominant player on the ATP rankings since Peter Sampras eight years ago.
He's only the third Australian behind John Newcombe and Patrick Rafter to be ranked number one since the ATP ranking system was introduced in 1973.
No Australian ever has been number one for so long.
And if he remains at number one until the end of the year, he will have been 59 consecutive weeks number one, behind Jimmy Connors 160: Ivan Lendl 157: Sampras 102: Connors 84, Sampras 82, Lendl 80 and then Hewitt.
That's consecutive weeks at number one.
And if he remains number one till the end of the year, he will then have only Sampras, Lendl, Connors, McEnroe, Borg, Agassi and Edberg ahead of him.
John Newcombe was only number one in the world for eight weeks.
Patrick Rafter for one.
This kid by year's end will be there for 59 weeks and still going strong.
Who's going to catch him?
And he's over 2000 points ahead of the number 2 player in the world.
LLEYTON HEWITT 23 September 2002 (After the Adelaide DC tie)
Well, it's said that corporate sponsors are circling the world number one tennis sensation Lleyton Hewitt who last week became one of the biggest money makers in Australian sporting history after signing a new racquet deal.
He signed a multi million dollar endorsement with the Japanese manufacturer Yonex to continue using their racquets until 2005.
He's 21 years of age.
He's won the Wimbledon championship, last year's US championship.
He's sponsored by Nike whose five year contract is worth 30 million.
Yonnex is shelling out about 10 million as part of its latest sponsorship deal.
He's reportedly pocketed about 10 million in prize money and bonuses last year.
It's a long way since his win in the Australian hardcourt championship in Adelaide in January 1998 at the age of 16.
But the wonderful thing about this young bloke is he doesn't own a car and he doesn't own a house. :angel:
He's still utterly unpretentious. :angel:
But he's done it all at 21.
Andre Agassi hadn't won a grand slam till he was 22.
He was 24 before he won his second.
John Newcombe was number one in the world for eight weeks, Patrick Rafter for one.
At year's end, this kid will be number one for 59 weeks.
With respect, this is Tiger Woods stuff.
And just on Lleyton Hewitt, he can do anything. :worship:
He was outstanding in the doubles in the Davis Cup at the weekend when he combined with Todd Woodbridge to beat the Indians in straight sets.
That means that Australia stays in the world group and will compete for its 28th Davis Cup next year, rather than being consigned to the qualification group for at least a year.
It was the first time Hewitt and Woodbridge have combined in doubles in Australia.
And Woodbridge said they'd look to partner each other again to consolidate the combination.
He's a good player.
Mind you, Hewitt won a US doubles championship when he was about 18 playing with Max Mirny.
And of course Australia were helped with the absence of the Indian Davis Cup doubles star Mahesh Bhupathi who pulled out before the tie.
His replacement Vishal Uppal was the only player to drop serve once in the first set and twice in the third.
But all focus on Lleyton Hewitt. :hearts: :angel:
Outstanding again. :worship:
Does he ever play badly?
LLEYTON AGAIN 18 November 2002 (After the Masters Cup Shanghai win )
Lleyton Hewitt is absolutely remarkable.
There's nothing else that you could say about him.
He's earnt 2.4 million Australia dollars for winning the Masters for the second successive year.
But how he won it.
He was gone for all money.
He won the first two sets and they were tight.
He was hammered in the second two by a brilliant Juan Carlos Ferrero.
And then Ferrero got the break in the third.
But the 68 kilogram Lleyton ran until he dropped.
So did Ferrero run until he dropped.
If you can see this again, you must.
It is unbelievable stuff.
Lleyton trailed in the first set and won it.
He trailed in the fifth set after being hammered in the third and fourth.
Lleyton was on the ropes.
But he just never gives up.
He rallied and rallied and rallied.
He ran and ran and ran.
It's remarkable stuff.
I'm not too sure when, in the past, at 21 years of age, anyone has been as good! :angel:
LLEYTON HEWITT 18 November 2002
He was born on February 24, 1981 which means he's still only 21.
He weighs 67 kgs.
He won the US Open last year, Wimbledon this year.
He was ranked number 1 last year: he's ranked number 1 this year.
There are only six other tennis players who have been twice or more times, consecutively ranked number 1.
Jimmy Connors was number 1 in 74, 75, 76, 77 and 78.
Bjorn Borg in 79 and 80.
McEnroe in 80, 81, 82, 83 and 84.
Lendl in 85, 86 and 87.
Lendl made it again in 89 but in 88 it was Mats Wilander.
Some great insights into Lleyton!!!!! Thank-you sooo much for sharing these delights with us poor people who could not have seen them otherwise!!!!!
p.s. I know I use far too many exclamation marks!!!!!!!
This nice feature on Lleyton is written by Brisbane Broncos (Aussie rugby team) coach Wayne Bennett after Lleyton won Wimbledon. I got it from the official site of the Broncos last july.
Lleyton Hewitt - a man to be proud of
Saturday 13 July 2002
Article published courtesy of The Courier Mail
WATCHING the reaction to Lleyton Hewitt's fabulous Wimbledon victory prompted me to think yet again just what we expect from our sporting stars.
No one questions Hewitt's ability but there are plenty who question his manner and that's something that intrigues me.
As a coach, I'm more interested in his performance and I can tell you one thing, he's the type of guy you'd really want to have in your football team because he'd bring with him an attitude of "if you're going to beat me you're going to have to play well because I'm not going to give up". You could use 13 of those guys in your rugby league team. :worship:
As an Australian, I've been thrilled to bits by Lleyton's wonderful performances around the world. He is to me what Pat Rafter was: a bloke who's out there doing his best every time he steps on to the court. He makes me very proud to be an Australian. :worship:
As an observer, I'm fascinated and infuriated by the contrasting reactions young Lleyton attracts from critics and fans alike. Lleyton has plenty of critics (haven't we all) but I reckon those critics either don't understand, or won't take time to try to understand, that we're all different. You can't take Lleyton Hewitt and force him into a Pat Rafter mould because they are different people.
Pat managed to keep his emotions in check on the tennis court and we all loved him for it but Lleyton needs to let his emotions out. He feeds off them and they make him the great player he is. :worship:
I don't find Hewitt's on-court antics - the chest-thumping, the fist-pumping, the "c'mons'' - offensive because I recognise that those things are just Lleyton. :kiss: He reminds me in many way of Gorden Tallis. They both play with emotion, aggression and passion and if you take those things away from them you take away what they are and you're left with someone else which mightn't be anywhere near as good.
Just what do people find offensive about sporting emotions anyway?
Let me take you back to June 26, just for a minute. You're in your loungeroom watching the third State of Origin match and Dane Carlaw scores one of the great Origin tries to draw the match for Queensland and allows us to keep the shield. Do you just sit there or do you jump up, punch the air and yell?
I'll let you in on a little secret, when Dane scored I jumped out of my chair in the coach's box, punched the air and yelled.
Then I headed down to the field to be with the players so I didn't see the post-try celebrations by the players until I watched a video of the match just the other day. I thought the way the players rushed in to celebrate with Dane was great, not offensive. At one stage in rugby league, some post-try celebrations were getting dangerously close to being offensive because they were belittling the opposition but that's pretty much disappeared, thank goodness.
So if we're not offended by footballers celebrating a try or cricketers celebrating a wicket why on earth would we be offended by Lleyton Hewitt celebrating winning Wimbledon. If anything he's probably more entitled than most to let it all out because he's playing an individual sport.
The other thing I keep telling myself about Lleyton is that we are still dealing with a young man and we simply can't put old heads on young shoulders. I've been in the coaching game for a long time and the young men who come to me now are exactly the same as the young men who were coming to me 20 years ago, they're no more mercenary and no worse behaved, they're just young guys with big dreams.
We're always so quick to criticise young people but do we ever stop to think what we were like when we were 17, or 18, or 21?
The youngsters who start out on the hard road to the top in sport invariably have talent - they can kick, or swim, or run, or serve - but that doesn't mean they have every other part of their lives together and it's not fair of us to expect them to be what they aren't.
I couldn't believe the criticism of Lleyton when he was photographed with a big cigar in his mouth after Wimbledon. He's a bad role model, the critics said. I'll tell you something about role models - I've had a lot of them in my life and not one of them has been perfect. (You tell them! :kiss: )
But I'd rather not dwell on the negative reactions to Lleyton's triumph.
What I'll remember most about his efforts at Wimbledon won't even be the final, it will be his five-set win over Shalken in the quarter finals.
I watched it right through and Lleyton was gone at one stage. He had lost his rhythm and couldn't get it back but somehow he managed to pull out three fabulous shots and toughed it out.
Hope you enjoyed the cigar, kid. You certainly earned it. :worship:
Wayne Bennett's column appears every Saturday in The Courier-Mail
this is more Lleyton related but I thought every1 would like 2 know that lleyton's 75 weeks @ no.1 has come 2 an end. Andre Agassi will become the new no.1 and the oldest ever.
The points will still be quite close so hopefully LLeyton will do well in lead up 2 RG, and Wimby.
Just thought every1 should know & noone will get a shock 2morow.\
Theres still quite a gap between no.2 & 3 so I don't think we need 2 worry bout him dropping 2 far down.
thread moved to Lleyton news for filing reasons]