Michael Joyce

Maria Sharapova Goes Down Under

So I was reading the news about Maria Sharapova in the last couple of weeks. She split with her longtime coach Michael Joyce, who guided Sharapova to two Grand Slam titles and the world number one position on the WTA Tour. Joyce coached Sharapova for six and a half years.

Sharapova is currently in Melbourne with new coach Thomas Hogstedt.

“He sticks to his job,” she said. “He’s out there to try to make me better in different aspects of the game. I think that his experience can definitely help me, a new voice. I worked with Michael and my dad for so many years, I think it’s just really positive to bring someone in.”

In more Sharapova news she got engaged to NBA star Sasha Vujacic of the New Jersey Nets and played her first match as the fiancee just last night in Melbourne versus Thai veteran Tamarine Tanasugarn. She looked nervous throughout the match and admitted later that she was suffered from stage fright, just a little. She won the match anyway in straight sets with 6-1, 6-3.

“Last year I played first match on centre and I lost,” admitted the No 14 seed, the richest sportswoman in the world. “So I was like: ‘I don’t want this to happen again this year’.

“The first game definitely wasn’t great, and I didn’t serve good at all during the match. But, you know, otherwise she was close to being 4-1 in the second set, and I was able to win 6-1, 6-3. So that’s the positive within my game. I started playing better as the match went on. And I can only improve in the second one.”

Maria Sharapova has many dedicated followers accross the globe but this follower turned into more than just any follower.  Jamie McOnie of sports poof show “A crowd goes wild” stalked Sharapova at several press conferences. First in New Zealand at the ASB Classic and then yesterday after the first round match at the Australian Open.

Sharapova recognized him on that occasion and said: “You’re the guy from New Zealand, huh? Oh, God, you’re stalking me!”

“It’s not stalking if you love someone,” McOnie replied jokingly, to which Sharapova offered: “It can be slightly, trust me.”

McOnie made his latest appearance Monday following Sharapova’s first-round win over Thailand’s Tamarine Tanasugarn, where he unveiled a sign reading: “I am not a stalker.”

“I don’t know why you’re here today,” Sharapova said. “That shouldn’t have happened. You even have a sign. Oh, goodness, that’s wrong.”

Source Fox Sports

Some shots of yesterday’s match of Maria Sharapova:

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The X-Factor

71642847MC039_2006_U_S_Open What seperates the top coaches from the rest is in what I like to call the “X Factor”. The great ones have it; Brad Gilbert (Andre Agassi), Vince Lombardi (Green Bay Packers), Johan Brunyeel (Lance Armstrong), Michael Joyce (Maria Sharapova), and Phil Jackson (Chicago Bulls), have all been great athletes and top performers in their respective sports. After hanging up their sports shoes, they have taken their talent, and have injected into the players. Yes these coaches have knowledge when it comes to:

– Psychology
– Physical Training
– Strategy
– Technical Advice

But they also have what I call THE X FACTOR!

_41426311_agassi_initialsuccessWhat is the X Factor? In my opinion it is all the non tangible attributes the coach brings to the table. It is the ability to crawl into the athlete’s skin and head, and bring out the absolute best in them. Their charisma draws the attention and respect out of their players and they get them to listen. Their approach to practice is meticulous and they make the training sessions harder and tougher than the actual competitions.

The X Factor also refers to the coaches understanding of what their player goes through physically and mentally. Because these coaches have experienced the ups and downs from their previous careers and endeavors, they know when to be tough on their player and when to back way off.johanb

The top coaches can make considerable impact on the career of the athletes that are so fortunate to come across them. I know I was lucky. Without my coach Lenny Preheim, I would have never done as well as I did in cycling. His words of wisdom and coaching techniques made a significant contribution to my success.


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Mark Keil: My Heart-Pounding Moment With Renee Zellweger

Mark Keil, the new head men’s and women’s tennis coach at Newbury College, Brookline, Mass, writes this week on one of the best event’s of the year, and an out of the way tourney in beautiful Spain.

The ATP event in Los Angeles is a much needed bonus on the road to the Open. The tournament is played in Westwood, and the tournament hotel is like being in a movie. I played singles qualifying there a few times, and went down in a thriller to Michael Joyce of Bel Air, California. He got to the fourth round of Wimbledon one year, and is currently the coach/hitting partner of Russia’s Maria Sharapova. I also played doubles qualies with Craig Johnson, a double-fisted forehand and backhand player and All-American out of Pepperdine. We lost in the final round, and would have gotten in but I think Craig was cruising the beach at the time, and I couldn’t find him. In between matches, I would have a cup of coffee at Starbuck’s on Beverly Glen and I met Renee Zellweger once. She said her brother was a tennis player, and it was a heart pounding moment. I also would hang out with a high school friend of mine, Shelley McCrory. She was a vice president of NBC Comedy, and it felt cool to eat with someone in the business. In doubles, I qualifed in 2000 with the Arizona State University standout Jeff Williams. We beat the doubles Olympian for Great Britain Kyle Spencer and the All-American out of Clemson Mitch Sprengelmeyer 7-6, 6-4. In the next round, we lost to Paul Kilderry, a humorous fellow from Australia. He was Patrick Rafter’s cohort, and had a sweet backhand. His partner, Sandon Stolle, who played high school tennis in Miami and attended TCU, was a tall, deep baritoned voice rail thin Aussie man (and the son of Hall of Famer Fred Stolle).

Before the match, I attended a barbecue at Dustin Hoffman’s Brentwood home with former player Derrick Rostagno. We lost 4-6,4-6. After the match, I crashed a party at the Playboy Mansion and made a fool of myself. I spotted Pamela Anderson and Denise Richards, but they didn’t see me. All in all, it was a very manic week.

The event played in Segovia, Spain is on hard court’s that had dimples on them.  The match’s were played when the sun was setting, and it was a high altitude affair.  The venue had marquee tent’s set up around the stadium court, with attractive Spanish women dressed in their summer white’s handing out free sample’s of stuff. In this challenger event, I beat Nuno Marques of Portugal and lost to Jose-Antonio Fernandez of Chile 3-6, 6-7.  I had a good time there, but the restaurant’s opened so late and it was tough to sleep after eating.

I hope everyone is hitting the courts, and getting ready for the Olympics!

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