Noble Tennis was published in the year 2000. In the same year, I was made a National Touring Coach by Tennis Canada, and I was invited to make a presentation to a gathering of the coaches and tennis development leaders. It went over like a lead balloon. The feedback was that while the ideas were admirable and clear, they had no place in the tough world of high performance and professional sports. Some of the participants began telling stories about how they or others cheated to win, and spouting conventional wisdom about the need to be aggressive and hostile towards the opponent, and ruthlessly selfish to succeed.
In 2003 I stopped working with Tennis Canada, and founded the Noble Tennis School. I would focus on building a structure to express the NTS approach, rather than one-off camps and tours. In that same year, Roger Federer won Wimbledon for the first time, and the era of his dominance began.
Over the next fifteen years, Federer transformed the culture of the game. Graciousness and
sportsmanship became associated with victory, and perfection of play replaced gamesmanship and bullying. Composure was now cool, and respect for the opponent was non-negotiable. With Federer, sport as vulgar entertainment was elevated to a higher level. Instead of crowds eagerly waiting for misbehaviour and ugly antics, they came to marvel at something beautiful, the seamless blend of elegance and power. As a cab driver in New York said, watching Federer play was “a near religious experience,” and the world responded to his personal and athletic qualities with pure enthusiasm. This blend of human qualities and athletic mastery propelled him to the heights of accomplishment and public adoration, as he laid waste to the ideas expressed by the critics at that meeting.
As we developed the Noble Tennis School at our club in Ottawa, Canada, Federer became a
constant reference point for the attitudes, qualities and conduct we were cultivating at every
level. He was basically an NTS ambassador! It took effort to create the environment and uphold the standards we embraced, but our task was made easier because we could always point to this shining example on the world stage.
It's an amazing coincidence that Noble Tennis arose as the era of Roger Federer began. Personally, I do not believe in chance. I think movements arise when the time is right, and there is nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come. The idea that a person expressing simple and genuine enthusiasm, noble human qualities and unerring sportsmanship could match and surpass every other approach to the game was proposed by Noble Tennis, and proven by Roger Federer.
On behalf of everyone in the School, Thank You Roger.