Sports Media graduate. Sports Fan. Journalist.

Aussie Open Half Way Mark

With the Australian Open heading into the second week, I thought it would be appropriate to take a look back at the last week and give you my thoughts on everything I’ve seen and watched this week in little snippets. I’ve been lucky enough to receive accreditation for the event thanks to my job, so I have been to the tennis everyday. It’s a tough life really, but someone’s gotta do it. 

Player of the tournament so far:

Gael Monfils. The man is a genius, maybe not in the traditional Roger Federer, makes everything look so easy kinda way, but quite the opposite. With a game more erratic than a teenage girl’s emotions, he may well be the most entertaining player to watch. Or should that be frustrating?

Watching his match on Margaret Court Arena against Dolgopolov was one of the more entertaining matches I caught in the first few days, mostly due to one Flashy Frenchman. Serving 220km/h bombs down the T at will, followed by double faults, he finished with the impressive (coach killer) stats of 26 aces and 16 doubles faults. He also started off the match with 5 consecutive aces. The crowd were devastated when he missed his sixth.

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Gael Monfils serving in front of a packed MCA (on an iPhone, hence the dodgy-ish quality) 

Then his match with Simon came along which featured a ridiculous 71 shot rally. Sure, it wasn’t the prettiest or flashiest of rallies, but still, 71 shots is triple the length of what many would call a long rally and when you have Henri Leconte in the commentary booth going nuts, it’s hard not to smile. 

Finally, in his second round match against Yen-Hsun Lu, he managed to achieve another simply brilliant (coach killer) feat – double faulting not once but four times on match point in the final game. He even came out after the match and said after hitting an unreturnable serve on his fifth match point that “It was more like I need to ace because I knew it would be double fault for sure,”

So for pure entertainment value, Monfils gets my player of the tournament so far, even if it’s for the wrong reasons. Sorry Novak, you’re entertaining and rather funny, but you just missed the cake. Maybe you need to try dance to Gangnam Style more? (Side note: please don’t).

Low point:

Injuries are without a doubt the worst part of tennis and sport and probably the unluckiest tennis player would be Brian Baker. Playing in his first-ever Australian Open at 27 years old, Baker had just won the first set against compatriot Sam Querry before his knee gave way. He was pushed off in a wheelchair and faces another fresh battle to return from another crippling injury.

After reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon last year, things were looking up for Baker and he was one of the feel-good stories of last year. Let’s just hope he can come back from his fifth (FIFTH!) major surgery.

What really grinds my gears:

To quote Peter Griffin, there are a number of things that really grind my gears and does my head in at the tennis, none more so than people who don’t understand the simple rules of watching tennis live. I get that you probably follow tennis for two weeks a year and think you are an expert on Bernard Tomich, Novak Djokevich and how Aussie tennis isn’t how it used to be, but please, keep reading and take note: 

One – you don’t talk during points, simple enough but some idiots just don’t understand

Two – Don’t enter the court when it’s not a change of ends, and if you do, sit down! Once again, not that hard.

Three – yes, sometimes you have to wait to get into the bigger outside courts, and yes people already have seats saved, once you’re inside you will relish the chance to leave for some food and drinks and still have a seat, so please, do the rest of us a favour and stop complaining while you wait! Abusing the volunteers who look after the gates do it tough enough without you yelling at them. 

Positives:

OK, no more ranting, let’s look at the positives. The Australian Open has once again proved it is one of the premier sporting events in Australian and even the world. It never ceases to amaze me that year after year they find ways to continually improve and enhance the experience for everyone who attends.  

The new viewing deck over the main practice courts has given hundreds more fans the chance to view their favourites, while including practice times for every court has improved the accessibility of all the players, from the lower ranked ones to the Federer and Sharapova’s of the world.

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Victoria Azarenka practicing while the crowd watches on from the viewing deck

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Without the practice schedule, I wouldn’t have been able to watch Richard “best looking backhand in the world” Gasquet practice on an outside court 

Crowd highlights:

One of my favourite parts about sport is what people say during the matches, so I have included a few of the pearlers I’ve overheard during the first week: 

Baghdatis v Ferrer, start of the match: “It’s in the Bag, Dhatis!”

The one guy who kept standing up at each change of ends and singing a whole song dedicated to Ana Ivanovic was a highlight. Some classics included “opa Ana Style” and “Call me Ana”. Hilarious.

While watching Almagro v Janowicz, lady behind me: “This should be a jolly match!” 

During the all Aussie Duckworth v Mitchell match: “Come on Mitchell, duck him up!” 

But my favourite was the banter myself and my brother had with Aussie John Millman while he was versing Robin Haase in a practice match on Friday. Haase had a coach and another person on court, while Millman had no one, so naturally my brother yelled out “hey Jonny, need a coach?” He just smiled and shook his head. They changed ends and he cheekily said “I can’t afford one, Tennis Australia spend too much on Bernie!” I’m still laughing. I proceeded to give him some advice on moving forward into his serve and applauding his good shots, we had a good chat after, he thanked us for coming out and said he appreciated the advice. What a champ. 

Of course, groups such as The Heard and The Fanatics always provide some highlights with their antics, which you can read about here.

Dishonourable mention goes to the idiots in the Sharapova crowd who imitated her grunt in between points. Not funny. 

Onto the tennis:

I’ve said it since the end of last year, but I still think Andy Murray will take out the men’s title. Most of the focus has been around Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, but I think he will relish that and has gone quietly about his business. I think the women’s title will be taken out by either Serena Williams or Maria Sharapova. Sharapova has been dishing out bagels more freely than she plugs her new Sugarpova line of lollies, while you can never discount Serena when the second week wraps up.

But then again, I said Grigor Dimitrov was my smoky this year in the men’s draw, so what do I know? Although I did also say Berdych as well, and he is another player who has been sneaking under the radar with some impressive results. I can tell you one thing though – David “best grinder in tennis” Ferrer will not win the Australian Open.

I’ve also gotta put my two cents in about the Aussies performances. Although we only had Tomic reach the third round, every Aussie impressed me but lacked that final killer blow to finish the match off. Matty Ebden was up two sets to love in his first round match, Marinko Matosevic could have easily been up two sets to love if he took his break point chances, James Duckworth fought valiantly to go down in five amazingly tough sets in 40 degree heat and even Bojana Bobusic was close to nabbing the first set of Radwanksa. The signs are good for the future, and with juniors such as Ash Barty, Nick Kyrgios, Thanasi Kokkinakis, Storm Sanders and Luke Saville all looking good, hopefully we can have a number of players move into the top 100 and 200 in 2013. 

And lastly, here is a pic I took of the lovable (hate-able for some) Ana Ivanovic fist pump: 

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Thanks for reading, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter! Twitter.com/Edwin_smith1 

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Melbourne is Blue

Let me tell you about the time I became a fully-blown football (soccer) fan.

Now, as a long-time Rugby League fan, this was no mean feat. I like my sport like my weekends – fast paced, entertaining and once they’re over, all you want is for another one to come around.

I’m hearing you ask “but Edwin, what event made you become a football fan?” to which the answer is the Melbourne Derby. It was a special Saturday night at AAMIPark, which involved a march to the game among thousands of fans, chanting, a few beers and most importantly a highly entertaining game of football that featured a last second winner to Archie Thompson.

I’ve followed the English Premier League fairly loosely for the last few years but the process of moving from a very casual EPL fan to a true believer in the A League has been a rapid rise similar to that of the Western Sydney Wanderers. Half way through my Sports Media degree (2010 maybe?), I realised my sporting knowledge was very limited to tennis, Rugby League and bits and pieces of other sports, so when a die-hard EPL fan wanted a buddy to watch some late night Manchester United games, I was happy to oblige.

Soon enough, thanks largely to Fantasy Football and a little game called FIFA, I started to know some players names and realised there was more to soccer than boring 0-0 goal starved bore fests where teams are happy to camp in their own area and keep possession.

Then I moved to Melbourne at the start of the year, where I decided I would begin following A-League closer and also decided I would whole heartedly throw my support behind the Melbourne Victory. After attending a few games and loving the atmosphere, I found myself at the Melbourne Derby last Saturday night, Victory v Heart, Melbourne v Melbourne in the battle for supremacy in what many (myself included) call the sporting capital of Australia.

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AAMI Park packed to the rafters

After consuming a few beers and tried to fend off the hangover from my work Christmas party the night before, we made the stroll to AAMI Park only to be greeted by a huge crowd of Victory fans marching towards the game, chanting and basically making a hell of a lot of noise. Those who know me personally know that I am all for making a bit of noise and shaking the shackles after a long week of work, so we jumped in the front of the line and marched into the stadium, joining the Northern Terrace in a sea of fanatical supporters in blue.

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Huge crowd marching to the game

There is just something so amazing about hundreds of people all singing in unison, and is something that only truly exists in football in Australian sport. Sure, NSW have the age-old “New South Wales, New South Wales, New South Wales,” chant they employ in the yearly State of Origin series and the classic “Aussie Aussie Aussie” that can be found at the cricket and tennis, but when the entire end of AAMI Park sing “there’s only one team in Melbourne” you’d be hard pressed not to believe them.

I said it two years ago, but I really believe the A-League is the sleeping giant of Australian sport. Sure, it doesn’t pit itself against NRL or AFL directly as it’s a summer sport, but the atmosphere at these games really is something to behold and once more people start realising this, I can’t see many things standing in the way of crowds continuing to rise and rise.

Obviously, the key to a successful sport is free-to-air coverage, and with the latest sponsorship deal allocating them on live Friday night A-League match per week (via http://www.theroar.com.au/2012/11/20/free-to-air-coverage-vital-for-a-leagues-future/) it’s well on it’s way. When the next deal comes around, don’t be surprised if SBS looks to pick up half the games or even if a Channel 7 wants to start broadcasting the games. But time will tell. Image

There has been much said about the negative crowds, flares and violence at games, which I honestly believe is the media blowing things out of proportion, as they love doing. At every sporting match, there will be idiots who are there to cause trouble and get into fights, that’s a given and it will happen at every sport – football, NRL, AFL and more recently there was a brawl in a Big Bash match that basically went unreported. At the recent Boxing Day Test, I was reading that 40 odd people were kicked out, yet nothing was made of that. You can only image what would have happened it if were 40 people getting kicked out of the Melbourne Derby.

Now, on flares,  I’m not trying to say they are fine to use – they aren’t, we had one go off five seats away from us during the Melbourne Derby and it’s not a pleasant experience.

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Flares aren’t fun when they are 5 seats away

But apart from some smoke inhalation, I survived and so did everyone else. Let’s also not forget that the majority of fans are there to enjoy to spectacle and shouldn’t be grouped in with the tiny minority who somehow manage to sneak flares in. (Side note – how DO people sneak flares in? Surely security must take some kind of responsibility or is that just me?)

Tonight, Victory take on Heski’s Jets and from all reports it’s close to a sell out, which is another remarkable effort considering the Jets come from Newcastle and have no real history with Victory.

For your viewing pleasure, here are a few snaps I took on Derby Night:Image

This is one of my favourite photos: note that almost EVERY person in the whole stadium has left, except from the whole Northern Terrace. 

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Yep, a good old fashion pitch invasion. Note the area the fans invaded by comparing this pic with the pic above.

Now, if you excuse me I have a game to attend, I’ll let you know a final flare count if you follow me on Twitter – @Edwin_smith1

Bring on the Brazilian jokes

So with another Olympics done and dusted, it’s reflection time. I said in one of my previous blogs, I hoped the Aussie campaign wouldn’t be remembered by our failure in the pool, and in all honestly, I think it has been.

One of the major talking points coming out of the games is our lack of “success” which essentially means we didn’t win enough gold medals. Sure, if you compare previous games to London, it’s been a letdown. Our 7 gold pales in comparison to our 14 gold in Beijing, 17 in Athens, 16 in Sydney and 9 in Atlanta.

But as with everything you have to look on the bright side of life (song still in my head from the closing ceremony) and take the good with the bad. I think the general “we failed as a nation” is a bit rough I think many athletes excelled at their chosen sport, and even though they not have even medalled, many did run/throw/do a PB which, when you think about it, is a huge success. To train for four years and peak at the right time, performing at the best of your ability is a massive achievement.

I picked out Aussie 400m runner Steve Solomon, who became the first Aussie to make a 400m final in 40 years. He ran two PB’s to qualify for the final and although he came last, yes last, calm down you negative journos, it was still a huge effort from the 19-year-old to make it that far, and to me that’s one of the real success story of the games.

I think it is important to note the difference between him and someone like James Magnussen when discussing the real success of the games. Magnussen, to put it simply, talked the talk but didn’t walk the walk. Granted, he was a fingernail away from gold, but when you say before the meet that you could win at 90%, there is going to be some questions asked when you don’t win. But someone like Solomon, who quietly went about his business and was so excited when he reached the final, is a breath of fresh air.

I think it is this relationship that has defined our games – some of our top athletes promised to deliever and didn’t – Magnussen, Seebohm and a few other members of our swimming team, while others quietly went about their business and did us proud – the ENTIRE sailing team. Maybe what has really happened is swimmers back in Straya’ decided they were sick of the water and wanted something more stable on the water to race in? Or maybe not.

Overall, I think the Olympics and London was a huge success in terms of the overall experience. Some of the best moments for me include the Meares/Pearson double, the Feck flop, Bolt dominating, Phelps becoming a legend, and Wonderwall during the closing ceremony, and many others.

Rio, it’s a hard act to follow, you had better be prepared (get some kind of bodily wax possibly?) to put on a great show.

Another thing that was fascinating during the Olympics was the use of social media. I am sure this is the first time that social media has really been a huge part of an Olympic games, as I am sure back in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics athletes definitely weren’t tweeting pictures of themself.

There is a bit of controversy surrounding our athlete’s use of social media and if it affects performance, but I don’t really want to go into that. Basically, if you are a world-class athlete you should be able to use Twitter and still perform on the day. I mean even Bolt managed a few sneaky tweets here and there.

I found an interesting article here that discusses the emergance as Instagram as a new powerhouse for social media platforms over the Olympics.  The #Olympics hashtag was used 650,000 times via Instagram, some huge numbers. 7,620 photos were Instragramed from the Olympic stadium, while 3,540 were ‘grammed from Wembly Stadium. That’s some big numbers, but the one that surprised me the most was 27,000 photos were shared with the hashtag #michaelphelps. Wowzers!

This just adds to the thought that social media is changing the way we do EVERYTHING, and doesn’t look like slowing down anytime soon. We now have more ways than ever to share and convey what we are doing and seeing, and Instagram is the latest way to say “hey, look what I am doing on my Saturday night, I am such a party animal.”

Even the American Dream Team has jumped on board the instawagon (yeah, you can use that one if you want), check out a photo from Kevin Durant via http://mashable.com/2012/07/25/usa-basketball-instagram/

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Speaking of, you can find me on instragram at Edwin_Smith or on twitter at Edwin_smith1 for some top notch photos and tweets. Most of the time.

That’s about all I have to say, hope you enjoy reading and once again, potential employers, still looking for a job, although an interesting phone call yesterday could change a few things. Stay tuned sports fans.

Almost at the finish line, no Bolt-like crusing for the last few days Aussies!

With the Olympics wrapping up faster than Usain Bolt 100m race, I thought now would be an opportune time to reflect on what we have seen so far in London.

Last night, Australia doubled their gold medal count with Sally Pearson and Anna Meares both putting on amazing performances to win their respective finals. Pearson was ALMOST pipped at the post thanks to a fast-finishing Dawn Harper, but held on after an anxious minute wait to learn her fate.

Meanwhile, Meares claimed her first gold of the meet after defeating her arch-nemesis, (the Vader to her Skywalker, the Australia to her England or the Nadal to her Federer), Victoria Pendleton. Side note:  I’m not quite sure if I nailed the good guy/bad guy thing I was going for, but I’m going to run with it anyway. It was a hugely impressive performance from the Aussie after victory was all but assured after Pendleton was penalised for crossing into Meares’ lane in the first race. Meares then sped away from “Queen Victoria” in the last lap of the second race to demote her status to Princess Victoria.

On now to something that really “grinds my gears.” Yeah, I stole that straight from Family Guy, what of it? Firstly, let no one deny Bolt is an absolute champion and legend of the athletics track. But seriously, does he really have to be SO arrogant? I mean, sure, he is a superstar, the crowd love him and he is great for the sport but why oh why does he have to make such a big deal out of everything. And to make it worse, he slows down five metres before the finish line! It’s only 100m champ, slowing down is not going to help preserve your body for the final, or help reduce the chance of injury, it just makes you look like a smug, overconfident jerk. To make matters worse, it wasn’t just Bolt who slowed before the finish line, a number of the other heats were won by guys slowing down to a jog just before the finish line in the 200m heats.

But I guess they base their whole career about being arrogant and being the best, and if Bolt can get three members of the Swedish Handball team into his room, then props are definitely due to him and he can do whatever the hell he likes.  

 

Now these Olympics have shown me a number of things. One, the majority of Australian journalists, reporters and the general public are idiots. Sure, we have collected a few more silver than usual. Sure, some athletes didn’t live up to our lofty expectations. Sure, it’s looking like this will be one of our worst Olympics in terms of gold in a number of years. But, that doesn’t mean our athletes who have performed at a top level and come second (out of the whole world, might I add) should be ragged on for not achieving gold. Long jumper Michael Watts launched a scathing attack on the media, blaming them for the misconception that winning a silver medal was a failure, and I think that was well justified.

With the recent flourish of gold, including a couple in the sailing, it appears a positive spin may be taken on things from now on, but then again it is so much easier to write a negative article than a positive one so we shall see.

Point number two: coverage on channel 9. Now before you all start saying “never again”, “worst coverage ever” and “I could do a better job covering it with my hand held camera and dog replacing Karl” hear me out.

There have definitely been things channel 9 could have done to make the coverage better, but overall I don’t think they have done a terrible job. Sure, the ads for Big Brother are enough to drive even the sanest person mad, but I think people need to realise it’s physically impossible to show every single event ever. The number of people I have read complaining about showing smaller sports such as table tennis or events that Aussies aren’t competing in has been mind blowing. They (channel 9) obviously had to make a choice, and being Australian they chose to focus around events that Aussies are actually competing in, and have a chance to win something in, because after all, that’s what we as an audience want to see.

And coincidently, the event in which we had the best chance of winning some medals was the swimming, which is why we had quite a lot of it on our screens for the first week. It’s one of those damned if you do, damned if you don’t for channel 9 – they show swimming, they get slammed for not showing other events. They show other events where we finish 18th and are never in the hunt for a medal, they get slammed for not showing the swimming where an Aussie just claimed a silver medal. I realise there are holes in what they do, and could make some improvements, but I honestly believe people are going to complain regardless so it’s time to cut them some slack and give them the benefit of the doubt.

One problem I did have was the lack of coverage of the Boomers match when my new favourite athlete of all-time Patty Mills hit a buzzer-beater to thwart Russia. I was watching the game, then they cut away to something else, no idea what, that’s how entertaining it was, and then my good friend Twitter informed me that Mills had sunk an unbelievable 3 on the siren to seal the game. 5 minutes later, we cut back for the last minute of the game and it was like watching a movie where an idiot friend had already told you the ending. It made an amazing moment just that little bit less special.

I also have a new favourite person to feel sorry for – Stephen Feck. I’m sure you have all seen the video by now, if not just search Feck dive on YouTube and it will appear, but I genuinely feel horrible for the guy. His life must have been hard enough with a last name of Feck, unlimited amount of jokes for that one, and when he completely the worst Olympic dive ever, his name has been etched into the history books for all the wrong reasons. I just wish people would leave him the Feck alone. (Sorry, couldn’t resist)

From my Uni studies, I spent some time looking at the anti-siphoning laws which, from my understanding, is why channel 9 have to show the same event on GEM and 9. The way it works is there is a list of sporting events which get priority for free-to-air companies to receive broadcasting rights before pay TV does. This list includes World Cup matches, NRL and AFL finals, Australian Open, plus a number of other high-profile events including the Olympics. The thing is, networks can’t bid for the rights for said events and shaft them off to their digital channel e.g. GEM. Now I do think networks can apply for the right to do this in special circumstances but obviously channel 9 have either been knocked back or haven’t decided to do so.

I tried to find some more info regarding this but old trusty Google let me down, so this is all coming from my head and what I learnt during Uni, so don’t hold it against me if it is all changed now/I am completely on the wrong track!

That’s about it for me today, cracked the 1000 mark so if you made it this far, I owe you a beer. I know how it is in this day and age, you read for the first two paragraphs, skim through the next one and move onto the next opened tab on your computer. With that in mind, I still need a job of some description, so if you’re reading this, why WOULDN’T you want to employ this guy?

Olympics, Flops and Rugby League

Back again due to popular demand (read: one guy once said he liked something I wrote) for another blog-tastic adventure, this time I will be talking and discussing the Olympics and NRL.

I will start with tennis, and it has been another disastrous tournament for the Aussie contingent, with the only winner coming in the form of Aussie warrior Lleyton Hewitt. He had a tough three-setter against Sergiy Stankhovsky, eventually prevailing 6-3 in the third. He now faces big-serving Marin Cilic from Croatia, with the winner to face either Andy Roddick or Novak Djokovic. I think I read this morning that Cilic and Hewitt had NEVER met before, which was one of the more strange things I’ve heard. I was expecting to see the Cilic had a 5-3 winning record over Hewitt or something along those lines. That being said, I don’t think it’s a bad match up for old Rusty, if he can make some good returns and put to pressure on the Cilic serve, he could be in with a shout. If he manages to win, I think it could be getting close to one last hurrah for Hewitt, he must be nearing the end of his long and illustrious career and even he must be wondering how much more his body can cope.

If he does, and my goodness I would love him to, it really would solidify that he is one of the best warriors not only Australian tennis, but Australian sport has seen. He epitomises the Aussie spirit that we are so proud of, something that so far these Olympics has been missing.

Take Emily Seebohm for example; she essentially blamed social media for her shock loss in the 100m Backstroke final. She absolutely dominated in her heats, breaking the Olympic record and only needed to repeat that performance to claim gold. She instead came out and said “I’ve obviously got to log out of Twitter and sign out of Facebook sooner than what I did,” which to me is a ridiculous thing to do/say. Apart from that, I think her biggest problem, which she also admitted, was her overconfidence, and dare I say it, her arrogance.

“When people tell you a thousand times ‘you’ll get the gold’ somewhere in your mind you are going to say ‘you’ve done it’,” she said, which shows her immaturity more than anything. But hey, at only 20 years old, it’s by no means the end of her career, more the beginning of a learning curb. And a steep one at that.

The other big disappointment in the pool came from the men’s 4 X 100m freestyle team. They also became too complacent, and although they didn’t say it, they would have been expecting nothing less than a gold medal. To come away with fourth place and no medal is a huge (belly) flop. As I heard one punter say, the Aussies focused around the USA team, they focused around us, and the French just put their heads down and swam their way to victory.

I said it on Twitter, but for me, swimming epitomises the Olympics. It might be because it’s where the Aussies seem to win the most medals and have the most success, or it might be the memories I have as a youngster watching Thorpie dominate. Either way, I have a feeling (it’s not a good one) that these Olympics may be defined by Seebohm and the relay teams’ flops, and not remembered for the successes that will hopefully come. Obviously, I really hope not, and Magnussen does have the chance for redemption tonight in the 100m freestyle, where he has to get through his heat and semi, and also take care of Flashy Frenchman (one of the greatest/worst clichés that I use waaay to much but I really can’t help it) Yannick Agnel, coincidently named after former professional tennis player Yannick Noah.

On another note, I would like to congratulate my NRL team the Parramatta Eels for one of the most impressive displays of the last few years in dishing out a flogging to the second top team in a matter of weeks, the Brisbane Broncos. It truly is amazing what a new coach can bring to a team, whether players realise they are on trial or they want to help out the new coach, it seems it is almost a given that no matter how poorly a team is doing, sack your coach and you are guaranteed at least a win. You definitely get the feeling the Eels are going to have a few more wins in the coming weeks, and really bring some teams back to earth, and send the legend himself Nathan Hindmarsh out on a high.

Parramatta winning is just one of the many things making competition at the moment a tipster’s nightmare. Probably the only other team who are more unpredictable is the Raiders, who can look like the best team in the comp and the worst all within about ten minutes.

That’s probably enough for me for this blog entry, once again thanks for reading, if you like what I am doing feel free to like this blog or follow me on Twitter – Edwin_smith1.

Also, I am still in the market for a job, so any potential employers I would love to hear from you!

The Junior to Senior Transition Relevant Just to Sportspeople? I Think Not

There is always discussion in sport about “the transition” – from junior to senior ranks. Often, a played will excel at junior level but rarely be able to repeat these performances at a senior level.

How often do we hear about a young up and coming Rugby League player who is going to set the game alight, but never does? Of course, there are exceptions to that, but even one stella first year doesn’t make the transition any easier. Dan Mortimer anyone? Second year syndrome is a problem that effects even the best of players.

This also happens in tennis. You may not remember him, but Todd Reid was touted as one of the best Aussie junior hopes we had, he won Junior Wimbledon in 2002 but never really capitalised on his talent. He peaked just outside the top 100 in the world, and has faded into obscurity. For the record, he is currently in Canada playing a no-name Futures tournament

You can also look at Bernard Tomic, he won a number of high profile junior events, and was in the media eye from an extremely young age (12 or something, from memory). He had a breakthrough year last year by reaching the quarterfinals at Wimbledon and had a good run at this year’s Australian Open, but is currently on a six-game losing streak. It seems people have started to work out his game, or he isn’t training hard enough, or a combination of both. The transition is as tough as it’s ever been and it’s not getting any easier. Tomic is the only teenager currently in the ATP top 100, which is an amazing achievement in itself, but you must be expecting more from the talented young Aussie.

But Edwin, where are you going with this, I hear you ask? Of course it’s tough making the transition, if it were easier, everyone would be a professional, I hear you say. And you’re not wrong, not at all, but I have drawn relevance from this transition into my own life.

I finished Uni at the end of the last and I am currently, in my professional career, attempting to make the transition from junior to senior ranks in the media industry, and I believe it’s tougher than those whingeing sports people.

I spent six or so months with Tennis ACT, doing media for them, something I considered a “foot in the door.” I also spent two weeks with the Tennis Magazine Australia and the Canberra Times, something I also considered “a foot in the door.” I then spent two weeks with the Australian Open digital team which was also, you guessed it, a “foot in the door.” Do you see a common theme here? How many feet can one man have in said door until he gets his body inside?

Well after a long summer of depressing job applications, Twitter came to the rescue and I got a part-time job with Tennis Victoria as a communications assistant. I’d done it, I thought, someone finally realised my feet were sticking in their office, and dragged me in. Three months later, and we are in the same position again. The idealistic hope of this three months turning into three years didn’t come true, and I am back looking at jobs on seek and other job sites that don’t interest me the slightest.

I received a thanks, but no thanks, email from a job I applied for (which I thought I was a good shout for) not once, but twice. It was like hey Edwin, you didn’t get the job, so we are going to kick you in the face, just to make sure you hurt enough.

So, although I made it to the big-time for about half a season, I have been dropped back to juniors for the foreseeable future and it’s back to getting my feet into doors once again. I just hope that someone, somewhere is noticing my feet, and wants to give this guy another chance to prove he has what it takes for the second year.

Let’s just hope second year syndrome doesn’t kick in. (To potential employers – it won’t. I promise)

Roger Federer: (Almost) GOAT

Wimbledon has come and gone, but it’s the same old story for Roger Federer. Well, kind of, it’s been a while since drinks but the Fed-Ex has firmly imprinted his name on the history books of Wimbledon, tennis, and sport in general.

His 4-6 7-5 6-3 6-4 win over Andy Murray gave him a record-equalling seventh Wimbledon crown, equal with Pete Sampras, and also moved him back to world No.1. It was his first major since the 2010 Australian Open and has reopened the debate about the Greatest Tennis Player of all Time or GOAT. (Side note: Regular goats have now become much more badass due to this abbreviation).

On the final itself, I think Murray played outstanding and really did himself and all of Great Britain proud. He won his first set in a Major final, which although it may seem like a small achievement, would be a huge confidence boost for the Scott, to take a set of Federer in a major final is a big stepping stone towards him possibly winning one himself further down the line. Even Fed said after the match he had no doubts that Murray could win multiple Majors.

For me, Federer IS, to put it simply, the best tennis player of all time. 33 consecutive grand slam quarterfinals and 30 semifinal appearances out of his last 33 speak for themself – it is such amazing consistency that may never be broken.  Ever.

I think if Federer managed to claim even one more Major that will, or should, end all arguments about his status at the greatest player to grace our game. Let’s not forget that the guy is about to turn 31 and has two kids, which in my opinion gave Federer that extra something to perform infront of them. He had never won a Major with his kids present, and I’m sure it was a driving force behind his outstanding form. I do worry that maybe, just maybe, he will settle back now he has achieved that and start to drop off, but we will see.

A big argument against Fed is his losing record of 18-10 against his biggest rival Rafael Nadal. Sure, it is a glitch on his amazing career, but Nadal will also go down as one of the best in history, he already has 11 Majors and you wouldn’t back him to stop there.

My main argument is you can’t have a winning record against every single player, there has to be one or two who have some kind of edge over you. Without going into too much detail, I am sure Sampras has a number of players who did hold a winning record over him. Plus, for Federer, half of their matches have been played on clay, Nadal’s favourite surface. That’s a pretty big advantage.

A big argument I have also seen pop up is about the greatest athlete of all time, not just in tennis, and for me there are a couple of stand outs. Obviously Federer is up there, but Kelly Slater is one who seems to be missing from a few lists.  He has won 11 ASP World Championships and he is both the youngest and oldest to win the event, at 20 and 39.  That is a huge achievement across so many years and surely places him in the upper echelon of sporting achievements. International athletes such as Michael Jordan, Pele, Tiger Woods and Muhammad Ali would be the favourites to choose the top five from, with a number of other athletes obviously very close.

Honestly though, I don’t think we can truly end the debate about Federer until he hangs up the racquets and we can reflect on his remarkable achievements. Until then, let’s just sit back and enjoy the ride.