Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

Lady Victoria’s path to pro tennis has been a tumultuous one, but it has always been on the cards.

At age 6 she picked up her first racquet… not to play tennis, but to use as a weapon in a street fight at her £17,000 a year private school.  That incident earned her the nickname “carnage”.

At age 11 she stepped onto a tennis court for the first time.  She was playing a 1 set match with a fellow pupil and was leading 5-4 and serving for the match.  At 30 love up, her opponent sneezed in a manner that Lady Victoria felt was bordered on gamesmanship, so taking matters into her own hands she walked round the net to her baffled opponent.  Just as the other player was about to ask what was happening, Lady Victoria delivered a measured left hook to the face that knocked her out cold.  She then returned to her own side of the court and fired down to aces to win the match.

An ugly incident to be sure, but the PE teacher that day saw a raw tennis talent in Lady Victoria that if properly nurtured could develop into something special.

Lady Victoria, under the tutelage of Tennis Coach Ivana Gunn, practiced night and day, so that just 6 years later, at the age of 17, she won the coveted Roseford Glass Trophy in Falkirk.  Lady V has been passed over for a wildcard at Wimbledon, so she’s re-dedicating her efforts for the US Open where she is quietly confident of winning the tournament.

I caught up with Lady V at the Hungry Monk Eatery in Hamilton’s trendy Burnbank area.

Lady V’s stylist called to say that she was running a little late, some story about a hot tub incident.  So I went a head and ordered up a “Triple Threat” (that’s 3 bottles of Champagne to you and I).  Lady V eventually rolled in 40 minutes late:

Nice to see you Vicky, it is good of you to grace us with your presence

Yeah hot tub malfunction

sarcasm bypass?

No, it had a leak

Right.  So are you gutted you didn’t get the Wimbledon wildcard?

A little. But the way I look at it, they’re idiots.

A little harsh, you’re still a young player, and you’re world ranking of 982 reflects that, it was always a long shot for the wildcard, no?

No, as I said they’re idiots.

Ok, fancy some bolly, bolly?

You know it.

At this point I terminated the interview and just had a nice night out with the good lady.  She can put away the booze, I’m a little embarrassed to say that I passed out on a couch at the bar.  The owner of the restaurant told me that Lady V got into a fight with the bouncer at the end of the evening that ended up with that doorman in the emergency room requiring 3 stitches.

So Bally is out first of all – with a whimper I might add – so we can forget about her.

So who is left?

Andy Murray – Anne Keothavong – Heather Watson – Laura Robson

Ok, so we can forget Keothavong, she’s got first round exit written all over her.  Of the other contenders, let’s assess their chances:

Heather Watson:

Gradiuate of the Bolliteri academy. Last year in Paris she made the 2nd round.  So this time I’m hoping for better.  I realistically think she can get to the 3rd round but no further.  Bottom line, she just isn’t good enough… yet.

Laura Robson:

A player with a lot of ability.  She’s only 18, but lets be honest in tennis terms that means that she should have won a slam by now.  Anyway, her best performance at a slam is 2nd round.  I think if she just channels that unbelievable agression bubbling away inside her and focuses it, as hard as possible, at her opponents that she’s got a chance of going far.  If she pulls up her socks she could easy make the quarters.  It’s about belief, as well as ability.  I did a diagram, look at it below:

So, quarter Finals Laura, nothing less.

Andy Murray:

The man. The talent. The enigma.  The player that Roger Federer* called “The greatest player there has ever been”.  Well, Semi-Final last year.  I’m realistic I expect him to win this tournament this time round, but probably not in straight sets.

* May not be Roger Federer the tennis player

So, to re-cap, that’s Andy Murray, for the win.

Tennis is easy. Just don’t let your opponent win any points and you will, eventually, win the match.

In the build up to the French Open, I thought it might a nice idea to interview someone who could play tennis.  I actually play at ‘Challenger’ level, but I thought interviewing myself might be considered bad form, so I called up Tennis agent Svetlana Costoltrilbi, and told her to get me a ‘name’ that I could feature on my blog.

Svetlana’s a bit of party animal and has been barred from over 37 Moscow bars due to her fighting, bad temper and general drunken antics.  I know how to handle her however, a couple of bottles of Siberian’s finest and she was putty in my hands.

‘Da baby, I get you Katrie, she owes me favour for gambling debt, this gets her clear until her next indescrition’

That was the voicemail I got.  Well, good, Katrie wasn’t my first choice.   A journeyman (or woman) you might say, but she’s got good ground strokes, so that gets her a ‘sit-down’ with the chief (me).

I caught up with Katrie at the ‘Four Goats Get Slaughtered’ Meat emporium in Glasgow’s cosmopolitan Shawlands district.  Shawlands has a tough rep, but for my money a night of karaoke and hijinx at the ‘Corona bar’ is a fine way to live your life.

So Katrie, let’s talk Tennis, who’s gonna win at Roland Garros?

Not sure. I quite fancy Djokovic

Who? I thought for a second you said cockovic?

Well… yeah, he’s good.

He sucks.

Well, it’s all about opinions

mmm

Well, fine.

Any regrets in your career?

Not really. I feel truly blessed to have been able to get paid to play the sport I love.

Never getting past the quarter final of a grand slam. Is that really not a regret?

Well, I won many tournaments, played for over 13 years professional, beat steffi graf, hingis…

Yeah, I’ve beating a few local pro’s at pitch and putt at the local park, that doesn’t mean I’ve made the ‘cut’ at augusta.

That’s mean

You’re mean.  Anyway. But when you’re as rich and successful as me, one of the perks is that you can be as rude as you want. Cool, no?

Are we still on for doubles tomorrow?  I got sanchez and saffin lined up.

Nah.  I’m gonna sit at home playing my nes, all day.  Grab a couple of beers at 6pm, then play my nes some more. Cause I’m cool.

At this point I terminated the interview.  Katrie was an ok player, here’s her grandslam timeline:

********92   93   94  95   96   97   98  99 00 01  02  03  04
Aussie    1st  1st  1st  1st   1st  1st  1st  Q   1st  Q   1st  1st  1st
French   Q    Q   Q     Q     Q    Q    Q    Q   Q    Q    Q   Q    Q
Wimb     n     n    n    n       n     n     n    n    n     n   n     n    n
US           1st  2    3    4       Q    Q    Q    Q    Q    Q   Q    Q   Q

As you can see, a lot of Quarters, but quite frankly if you buckle under the pressure everytime, then you just suck.

Falkirk based fighter Connor Flyflower has seen the highs and lows of boxing during his 9 years as a professional fighter.

In 2007 he knocked out Jimmy (Super) Mann in the 2nd round with a devastating left hook, to take his first world title.  But the success and adulation that followed became too much for Connor.  Only a year later in 2008, he stole all the pillows from a 5 star hotel in Livingston, and on that same day he drove a golf cart into the sea at St Andrews.

He was handed a 12 months suspended sentence, and during that time he re-dedicated himself to training.  Stripped of his world title and not able to look his peers in the eye he became determined to get back to the top.

Then in 2010, after 8 straight knock-out victories he was handed a shot at a 2nd world title.  He fought Paris hard man Patrice Mando in Florida in a fight which has now become known as “The Rammie in Miami”.

It was a bitter bitter fight, during which Patrice stamped on Connor’s foot before planting an elbow to his face.  All of which was amazingly missed by the ref and the judges.  This only angered Connor because just one round later he delivered an uppercut of such force that Patrice was literally thrown from the ring.

In his last fight in 2012 there was bit of controversy when he seemed to take a dive.  He had just knocked his opponent out, and in a surprising twist in the ring, he then screamed out ‘No!’ as if he hadn’t meant to do it.  He then stumbled a bit and fell to the ground, and in the end both fighters were counted out.  That draw meant he retained his belt, but it did look a little odd.

I caught up with Connor at the ‘Fours ducks in a row” brassiere Glasgow’s east end.  The areas a bit nasty, but I’m a bit of player, so the locals know to back off.

Hi Connor, it’s great to see you, how have you been?

Great.  Yourself?

Good thanks.  So, Connor, bottom line, did you take a dive in your last fight…

I don’t remember a lot after that.  But when I woke up 2 days later in hospital my agent my agent Natasha filled me in.  After Connor knocked me out, he went to his nearest golf course and stole a buggy and then drove it to the coast.  She said that as he drove into the water in the cart, that he could be heard shouting at the top of his lungs “Where’s ma pillows ya dobbers”.

In some ways I feel responsible, but I would compare it to the Joker. If you provoke the Joker and he goes mad does that mean you’re responsible? I mean, I didn’t create the Joker, he was crazy to start with.

Anyway, great fighter and maybe we’ll see him back in the ring again in the future.


I caught up with 4 time Livingstone Open champion Eloise Locke to get her thoughts on Andy Murray, the Nintendo Entertainment System and Chelsea’s chances in the Champions League Final on the 19th.

This was an official press engagement, and so I was going to be picking up the tab.  My first mistake was letting Eloise (a known drunk and ‘wild girl’) pick the venue.  She chose the ‘Starlight Room’ at the £150 a head Riviera Hotel in Falkirk.  It certainly is pricey but their Duck A l’orange is 3 rosette quality and if you’re ever in Falkirk’s west end, I’d say it’s worth the stop.

Dinner wasn’t till 8 o’clock so I had the opportunity to go to the Falkirk Wheel and enjoy a couple of hours of drinking beer whilst watching a big wheel spin round.  On reflection I think it was a mistake to jump in the canal and go for a quick swim.  But I’m an impulse guy and if it feels right do it.

At the restaurant Eloise rolled in 35 minutes late…

Eloise: Hi Alex, sorry I’m late.  Problem with my driver.

Alex: Save it Eloise, I’ve heard your stories before. Now, down to business.

Eloise: Hang on, there was a problem…

Alex: I said leave it, cool?

Eloise: Fine.

Alex: Right, do you think Andy Murray can win Roland Garros?

Eloise: No

Alex: You’re wrong. The correct answer is, Yes, yes he can. Next question, who’s gonna win the Champions League Final?

Eloise: I dunno, Chelsea?

Alex: Wrong again. It will be Bayern. You know why?

Eloise: Why

Alex: Cause I don’t like Chelsea. Last question, what’s your favourite NES game?

Eloise: What’s a NES

Alex: Get out.

At this point I terminated the interview. Eloise may have won 4 Livingston open titles, but good tennis play does not necessarily make for a great person*.  £300 for diner; seems pricey I know, but that Duck was great.  I also ate Eloise’s after she fled the restaurant.


I caught up 4 time “Nintendo Entertainment System Annual Gaming Champion” Diana Missy-Freewater at the “Squeaky Ferret’s Retreat” in the west end of Stirling’s cosmopolitan “Groove” district.

I’d recently interviewed a well known (and rather grumpy) french tennis sensation in a quiet cafe in Paris, and to be honest could have done with just going straight home to a couple of games of Mortal Combat on the SNES.  However, Diane’s agent called and reminded me that I still owe her a favour for that unfortunate evening in Aviemore that she helped clear up.

I got to the Squeaky at 7pm as agreed, however Diana called from the hotel to say that she was running a little late. Pretty unprofessional in my opinion, but that’s what you get when you work with amateurs.  As I had a little time to spare I ordered up a round of Russian trailblazers (2 pints of bitter followed by a double vodka shot).

About an hour later, Diana finally rolled in:

Hi Diana, how are you?

I’m fine.  Sorry about being late. Traffic was awful.

I made it here on time.

Oh, I must have come a different way.

Mmm

Well, shall we order?

I already have.

Oh, thanks. What are having?

I already ate my dinner in the hour I waited for you.  The scallops were out of this world.  I’m just going to have a couple of drinks while you eat. Right, so you’re good a Mega Man or Zelda or something?

Well, I don’t know about that.

I only interview the best. I was told you were the best. If that’s wrong this interview is terminated. Is that wrong?

No, I guess I am the best.

How many tournaments have you won?

3. 3 in a row.

I won 4.

4 what?

4 tournaments.

So you like gaming too?

Not really, I just liked the prize money.

Listen, I think we might have got off on the wrong foot.

Yeah, sorry D, I’ve got an early start tomorrow. I’ll have to go.

But we’ve only just begun.

I’ll have to go, if I’m going to beat all that “Traffic

At this point I terminated the interview.  Diana may well have won the NES gaming tournament 3 years in a row, but her amateur demenour and general lack of class left me cold. I’m pretty pleased I got in the Arnie come-back line as well.  That’s the last time Diana will give anyone any static about traffic again.