Lansdorp Looking for Another Ace
by Lynn Berenbaum | July 19th, 2006, 8:14 pm

Tennis guru Robert Lansdorp has always been the guy in the background. He’s the guy who pulled many a junior player up out of the bowels of the ship and put them on the Lido deck. Fresh from his Sharapova dumping, surgery for cancer, a divorce, and subsequent forced relocation, he’s not having what you would call a “great year.”

Last week a small website publication in Hermosa Beach, CA, where Lansdorp is currently residing, published a multi-part feature on the man responsible for the careers of such big names as Tracy Austin, Pete Sampras, Maria Sharapova, and Linsday Davenport, to name only a few.

Unnecessarily, this man is a legend, and two years ago he was flush: Hot off wins by (former client) Anastasia Myskina at the French Open, and (then current client) Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon. But as we all know, pro tennis is a fickle beast, and those in the player camps can be even more so. Rumors swirled that he was cut out of Sharapova’s internal team put together by her father/coach Yuri after Maria won Wimbledon in 2004. Rumors of Lansdorp’s impending retirement have floated since around the same time when his contract with the South Bay Tennis Center went, well, south too. He’s keeping a lower profile than ever now. He never got rich like his clients, but he’s got his memories and some great stories:

“Pete was always a happy boy. I can’t recall him ever complaining,” he said. “I called him Smiley.”

And he admitted that, unlike with Austin, he didn’t take an immediate interest in Davenport.

“Lindsay walked up to my court when she was 10, without her parents, came on the court and asked if she could take lessons from me,” he said. “I told her, ‘Look kid, I’m just too busy.’”

Davenport, he says, began crying. His hard shell soon melted.

“I said don’t cry, let me see what can I do, so I put her on my schedule,” he said. “She could really hit the ball, and she’s very competitive — and she always knew how to hide her competitiveness.”

By the time Yuri Sharapov — on Austin’s recommendation — called about his 10-year-old phenom daughter Maria in 1997, Lansdorp was working alone at private courts.

“They sent her out here from Florida and I worked with her for two hours,” he recalled. “After that Yuri asked what I thought of his daughter. I told him she hits the ball pretty well but her concentration sucks. So they stayed for two weeks.”

It’s a nice series, covering Lansdorp’s whole career, and includes interviews with Eliot Teltscher and Tracy Austin. Definitely worth a read. I will forewarn you, however, that with the small town website comes some poor navigation. So allow me to help you out: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, and Part V. Let’s hope we don’t crash their web server.

You Might Like:
Play Tennis Florida — Feb./March Digital Issue Online
Tennis: The Womens Game — Lessons For Us Too

Don't miss any tennis action, stay connected with Tennis-X

Get the FREE TX daily newsletter

3 Comments for Lansdorp Looking for Another Ace

Glenn Sheiner Says:

It’s a beautiful series of articles. It’s funny –I think the type of game that Lansdorp teaches is one way to the top. Obviously, there is the topspin school which hasn’t done too badly either.

It probably comes done to the personality of a player.

A player like Roddick could realy benefit from working with Lansdorp on the backhand. If Andy ever developed a weapon on that side he’d be a much more dangerous player instead of someone who essentially relies on his serve.

Glenn Sheiner M.D. author of INSIDER TENNIS STRATEGIES

Heidi Says:

Thanks for the link. Great set of interviews. I’ll have to remember to look out for his student in years ahead!

bob Says:

3 Christmas’s ago I took my then 8 year old daughter down from San Francisco to spend time with Robert. As a former touring pro, I felt she had talent and I wanted her to learn from the best.

He spent 2 hours with my daughter, taught her a great backhand. And, graciously would not accept payment for the time he spent with us.

Top story: French Open Men's Draw Preview: Nadal Should Breeze; Djokovic, Zverev, Thiem On Other Half