"Junior Tennis in Russia": Anton Samuilau: Former #1 Junior in Belarus

March 31, 2022
Written By: Jack Broudy
"Junior Tennis in Russia": Anton Samuilau: Former #1 Junior in Belarus

Broudy: Anton and I have only known each other four or five months and he's here in Denver colorado at an indoor club.

Broudy:  pro at Middle Creek. So if you're in the area, he's a fantastic pro and a great hitter, great hitter and uh it was a very competitive junior as well.

Broudy:  want to talk about some things with Anton today that I think would be very interesting to you all because it's not every day you get to talk to a junior champion from Belarus. So I want to talk to him a little bit about his growing up in the eastern bloc over there and and how much different it might be from. I'm very familiar with the United States junior tennis and also very familiar with european, you know, France and spain and Italy I've spent a lot of time with the juniors over there but never spent any time in that eastern block. I have no idea what it's like, but I know they pump out a lot of great tennis players um women especially, but also Djokovic Kafelnikov's so many good players from that area and

Broudy:  think we'll have a very fun conversation today. So Anton without any further ado let me ask you some questions. Um Number one, you grew up as a junior in Belarus, did you, When did you, when did you leave? And the boys? 16 and unders is that when you left.

Anton:  Hi, hi Jack. And then hi everyone. Um first of all, thanks for such a great introduction. Uh This is awesome. Yeah. And I'm Jack like yeah it's really an honor to be your friend and I'm I'm not and I'm like I love it so much, you're like such a great person, you know like it's I feel like we really connected on that some different level totally. And uh plus

Broudy:  I like the way we hit together. Yeah. I like the way we have long long rallies and that, you know to me that that's a very big bonding thing is to is to enjoy playing with somebody because tennis is a weird sport sometimes you can play with somebody and it's annoying. I mean you don't even enjoy it and we have we always have a nice hit so I appreciate that.

Anton:  Yeah. So yeah, I was um I'm originally just born in the Republic of Belarus. Uh and I grew up most of my childhood there you played for my country like on the Junior Davis Cup team. Like I mostly was in the winter and the summer team. But I left at the age of 19 because I got a scholarship to Hawaii Pacific University. So that's most of the players do if you I really don't get into prose because it's really hard to make it into prose. Especially like financially and stuff you need to really have a strong financial support and if you don't really have that or like you can't really afford playing tournaments like every second week or especially travel abroad to like Western european countries where the prices are usually higher, so it's really hard to make it than just because of that. We don't really have choice. Sometimes we come in the United States and we get scholarship. I mean just because I think we're good enough to get it and then we play for different universities here and then my my choice was hawaii specific. Why? Because I was kind of excited, you know about the islands. I mean I could never even imagine I could, I could, I could go to something like that. I could go to texas tech. I remember like me and my friend there were like there was a guy from texas tech. He came over to belarus because there was a few women's future going on there and he wanted to recruit me and my friend to texas tech. But later on I was thinking, you know, it's a cottage denis at some point, you know, I mean, yeah, it's great. I know texas tech is very strong school, but I was kind of thinking about more like where I want to be so texas is a great state, but Hawaii kind of sounded a little bit more.

Broudy:  It's funny you say that I was recruited to texas tech in lubbock. Texas also. Yeah, I was, I was recruited to texas tech and my father and I flew out there and uh it was just wind, I mean there was nothing there. I was like, I don't know. It would be a pretty easy decision for me to make Hawaii or or lubbock, I mean that'd be pretty easy decision.

Anton:  Yeah and that was the thing because that's what I was thinking. I was I think in texas tech, yes, great school, great athletic program. And then uh and then I'm like Hawaii, you know? So yeah, hawaii was also, it was the second division school, but just because there was a college tennis, I kind of really didn't see a big difference, you know, second division is pretty strong because there are so many Europeans are playing in the division. So like basically the guys that I played in europe, I met them, I met them later when we were playing for college but they were playing for different schools. So I thought that just second division, that should be a little bit, a little bit easier, less work. But actually it's not, you know, it's it's it's pretty, it's a pretty tough division too because you're like playing against Europeans and south americans. So it was a pretty interesting experience. And the same thing about texas. I was thinking, yeah, I'm going to texas a grade school but then what I'm gonna do after I'm done playing tennis, what if what I'm gonna do after and then there's my practice or always my school where I'm gonna go and I'm like in Hawaii at least I can go and sit on the beach and just go swim and stuff like that in texas and I don't know probably will be hanging around the campus most of the time. So yeah and I left when I was 19 so I got a scholarship to Hawaii pacific. I left when I was 19. And then uh it was in january 2007. And then yeah since then I became a member of the team and then that's how my journey in us started.

Broudy:  Let me ask you. I played d. one and I played d. three

Anton:  both

Broudy:  Did not play d. two So I don't know much about it does D to give scholarships. D. three does not.

Anton:  No this really is mostly academically. So if you if you like going to these three schools they give you academic scholarships but not athletic scholarship. Like the two. Yeah this they give you a scholarship as well. Yeah if you're playing for the two like good schools especially if they're like top rank let's say even maybe top 20 Maybe even top 15 top 10 they giving you scholarships. Yes. So if you have full right

Broudy:  well you know I mean you could pick any subject. I mean always college is always very interesting to talk about because so much happens but I'm I'm a little more curious that over the weekend I was thinking I really want to ask Anton a little bit more about the juniors because like I said especially when I know nothing about it, I like to learn and what was it any different, I mean you, you coach juniors now in Denver

Anton:  and I'm

Broudy:  sure you coach juniors in Hawaii, do you feel like the junior experience in Belarus or wherever you might have gone? Russia Ukraine? Where is Serbia, wherever you might have gone? Is it a different experience or is it very similar to the junior program here?

Anton:  Yeah, I would say it's a little bit different experience because in our countries that we don't really, for example when you start, let's say one of the sports doesn't really have to be tennis or anything like that, but mine put particular sport was tennis, so if you start spontaneous and then the coaches, they see that you are doing pretty well, they'll keep you going like they'll try to develop the maximum out of you. So so basically you will be working there like as uh as hard as the horse. So and my experience started when I was even I started tennis at 6.5 years old and then um remember those times when I just was playing around with the ball and even had the wooden rake it, so that was my first record that like even the red technologies change. But yeah, but I still hear the wouldn't record it was like half size, it was like because I was small, it was just too heavy so and then I had a wooden record and then I was just, as I was saying playing with the ball. And then um, had that coach, you know, she was just incredible coach. She taught me everything. We've been together for like for so many years and then she told my parents in those words that yes, um your son can be pretty good in general. And then after the coach says something like that to your parents, your parents, they start like more like paying attention to that. They start pushing you more because you know, they they listen to the coach every like whatever the coach says, you know I mean? So that's what needs to be done. And then, you know, growing up growing up very well. Like we, I I reached reach pretty good level even as the junior and then we have different programs in there. Like if you're doing really well, if you're one of the top juniors, you like the government, they build like a specific group, you know, just there like a final coach to you and you're like, they're like maybe like three or 45 best juniors of the country. And we're all trained together basically. Under one coach. Yeah. And then also our practice goes, we usually usually trained twice a week or twice, sorry, not twice a week, twice a day. What am I saying? We're usually trained twice a day. We had a practice in the morning for like 2.5 hours and we also had a practice in the evening in between we go to school or if you go to, it says it's called the sports school. So like that that those times were a little bit different. That's exactly where you could train twice a day. But if you go to regular school, you know, and if you're like really like special, like it's really good outlet in your school and your school knows that they kind of, they kind of give you um they like, it's it's it's called like if you, because I used to go to regular school and then my director of our school, like she knew that I was pretty good in tennis and she would give me more like a free attendance. So what does it mean is she knew that I was training a lot and then let's say if I have really something special coming up like a very important term. It, I could just bring a letter from our tennis organization and they would give me like a free pass and go to school. So if I, if I don't come, it's all good because they know I'm training so they were like taken taking it pretty seriously. Yeah. And then yeah, we play, we play a lot, as I'm saying most of the day, also we're doing physical conditioning, like maybe three or four times a week, you know, in between practices. So it gets on a pretty serious, gets on a pretty serious, serious level.

Broudy:  Yeah, it does sound, it sounds like it reminds me of the Russian tennis. I know the government gets involved when you're a good tennis player in Russia as well. Um they really, in the United States, not always, they

Anton:  start, they start building those groups like because they know that you're, you're like one of the top kids and they start like, uh they start building those groups as I said, they are signed in the coach too. I remember when I was starting with tennis, I was with my coach for like maybe 56 years in a row strayed. And then when I started to show results, like I was starting like winning like most of determines that I played, you know, the government, they just, they're like, they look at you, they look at other kids and they're like, okay, they want to bring it together because you might be the future of the country. So that's that's exactly what happens. And then you and you participate in those groups, you have, you have the coach and you're playing tournaments, you know, even you travel together with this like as a team with this coach. So it's basically, yeah, it's, it's a, it gets pretty, it gets pretty intense and trainings and then so we go to like sports camps sometimes, you know, once, like, once or twice a year for a couple of weeks and sport camps, they are not really about tennis, we just do different things. We like to play other sports like we go play soccer, we run miles and miles in there, like on that, on the just trails in the forest and stuff is kind of being in the nature, we kind of come like exercise physically, we kind of forget about it, it's a little bit because we know it's not really based on that, it's more like you're doing something else, but you're still training, so kind of switches your mind as well too. And then yeah, it was a pretty good experience because I always participated in those kind of trainings and then um and then yes,

Broudy:  did you, do you have, I know you have tournaments here, do you have like the United States has Kalamazoo and we have the national hardcourts. Do you have some big tournaments like that in Belarus or do you have to go to other countries?

Anton:  Yeah, it's mostly it's mostly yes, we have tournaments in Belarus of course. And then uh they're just the same as here, there's just different category levels and stuff, so, but the more that the highest term it is the championship of the country, so this is basically there because Belarus is not still, it's not the biggest country, so it's not like it's not like the United States where like, like where you can build more term is just around the States, it means for us the main term into the Championship of the country. So if you win the Championship of the country, you consider that pretty pretty serious player. And it doesn't matter. Also Junior man. Yes. So this is the highest term that we have. And then based on that, let's say if I'm playing a Championship of the country, you have to make a top three. So if you've got, you've got to either win it or get second or get the third place, because the system was like that you're playing a tournament, you get in the semifinals, which is, four players are left in the semi final, you're playing, you don't play semifinal, semifinal and final, you're playing a round robin system, so you're playing against every single player in like in the drawer. So

Broudy:  that's a brilliant idea.

Anton:  Yeah, and that's and because even if you lose the first match, you still can get the first place, you know? So it's like, it's just it just all depends on how other guys will finish up to. So, and then based on that you get top three players, top three, top three best players in the country, and then these top three players, they go and represent the country on european championships. So it's like the the team was formed and then after that before european championship, it's like it's it's happening maybe because I remember like for the Winter times were playing the Championship of the country, like in the beginning of january and then the european championships, they were starting like end of february. So basically we had like We had like seven weeks of preparation after determined after the Championship of the country is over. So once you get in those top three, it's already another, it's already another level. So you don't, so you just specifically training for european championship. So it's just like

Broudy:  where, where is the, where is the european championship? What country?

Anton:  It's every year, it's it's every year, it was differently. So we call we call them zones. So for example, one year it can be like in France, this is the first country I went to be when I when I got on the team, so one year it can be in France another year, it can be in Italy, then it can be in England, you know, so it's in the different ages, different sounds just like spread it all over europe. So we played like in Germany and then like basically all over the place, so it's like you have an age group, you have teams that are, that are assigned, that will be that you will be meeting in your zone group and then let's say the zone is happening in italy, so and they have like 678 teams there. So from like just for example, if it's in ITaly for sure, there's gonna be like Team Italy, then maybe Spain then Russia and belarus, you know then Serbia. No, so it's all it's all different basically every year in the in the winter in the summer it's different locations. You go to different places, so and that's how you travel and that's how you and that's when you go there already, the government, they're supporting you and then they they take you there and then like there you go there with the coach, it's uh maybe like four or five days only total because it's only goes like three days like quote like quarters, semis and finals and that's about it. And then after that depends on that it's like it's also called the qualification rounds. So because there are a lot of countries in europe too, so you have to also qualify for the main round. So if you make on your zone, if you make the top two, if you lose in the final, if you get first or second later on, you still go to the to the final rounds where like all like we're best eight teams, the of europe together together and that's where we played the main round and then whoever wins wins. Yes. So basically that's where it goes. Yeah, qualifications. Something similar to here, probably like when you when you guys have here Arizona's and then you go to the national championship. Just how

Broudy:  Many times, how many times did you get in the top three in Belarus and you get to travel?

Anton:  I would say, I would say mostly every year. So

Broudy:  were you ever number one? We ever number one in your country?

Anton:  Yeah, I was ranked number one in my country and my age I'm born 1987. I was born, I was ranked number number one for some time. And then yeah, I played number one, I played two, I played three. So at different ages, I mean I first time I went to european championships when I was 12 Years old, the age group was UNDER 14.

Broudy:  But I went

Anton:  Yeah, but I went when I was 12, so I made it, I made it in top three. I got the third place. I didn't win, but I made it. So we went, we went there, it was the winter, it was I remember in France the first time I went on a western, western european country, so we we went there, it was pretty good experience. And then later on I played the summer championship of the country, the same system if you get on top three you go in again to represent your country. So I got I think I got the second at the time, I don't really remember second and we went to Italy, the place is called SAn Remo and I remember like when they have a opening of the term and they have like presentation of all the teams from all the europe and I remember there were they even announced when I was there when they brought up the country belarus. So we got up, we got up there and then they even announced that I was the youngest player of the tournament. So I was still like, yeah, it was kind of, it was kind of cool, but I mean

Broudy:  It must have been a little scary playing those big 14 year olds.

Anton:  Yeah, I mean I didn't win of course because they're like insane guys there, you know, like, Like some guy remember he was born in 1985, like there was a moron fields or rafael Nadal there over there. So all those

Broudy:  guys just

Anton:  like, you you think you you think you're really great, you know? But once you see those guys, you're

Broudy:  like,

Anton:  okay, alright,

Broudy:  yeah,

Anton:  yeah, you might you might want to think about your greatness and stuff.

Broudy:  Yeah, I had, I had the same experience in the United States, I played for New England Connecticut, which is not the biggest tennis, you know, state. And when you go play some of the California tournaments or the Kalamazoo, I played all of a sudden you're eyes are wide open and you're like, wow, I think I've just been playing for fun compared to this.

Anton:  Yeah, yeah, those guys are like, it's like you look at them, they're like, oh, they're like on another, like

Broudy:  you played, you got to play, I mean that's that's one of the greatest years ever.

Anton:  Yeah, I didn't play against them, but I met them every single time when I went to represent because our ages kind of fall apart a little bit. So it usually goes like, Let's say that the age divisions would go like 85, right? One year, then the year you're born, then the next year it would be like 86, Then again yeah, like ages ago part I mean Because I was born in 87, it's two years apart from me like in song guys. So it's like I've seen him maybe that first year when I made it like when I was the youngest player. So and then after that I haven't really seeing him that much because the age it doesn't connect so but I've seen Rafa and all other other guys like mom feels because they're born 1986 so and I'm 1987 so I've seen those guys are pretty frequently. I would say that I

Broudy:  Would say Sanga Sanga Big Boy like he is today. Was he a big boy in the 14th?

Anton:  I mean nobody world juniors and stuff, you know what I mean? But yeah, I mean they were just like regular guys. I mean maybe bigger because he's older so but I don't really remember that. But yeah, I remember I just remember those guys, you know, they were all they were always they're always around and they were always representing their countries as well. So like Tonga played for friends, rafa played for Spain every single time, basically the same guy, you know, it's very very rare, it's like very rare when the lineup change, but no, not really because the same guys were played, you know, because you can see them, you can still see them now. So

Broudy:  was was rafa always special or was he just one of the many

Anton:  rafael goes um he was, I mean that's the first time I saw him, I'm like this is unbelievable what he does. I mean, he basically he plays the same game right now. I mean when he was in his prime right now, he's probably obviously he's getting like the ages also pushing on him, but when I saw him in juniors and then when I saw him on tv later when I was in college and he was like starting his career and when he was going through career, he actually played the same way he was just running running around, trying not to hit his back and at all, just hitting forehands all over the court. So he just got, I usually say that you know, uh he just got better at it, but that's exactly the first time I saw him training when he went when we went to, when we went to play on the european championships, I saw him training as the team's pain training and he was on the court, he was running from the left corner hitting forehand and then he was running around hitting for him and again he was running to the left corner running to the right, I'm like how do you do that? You know, it's like he was just, I mean he was always quick and like he was always quick and he was always a great competitor, like you could see that, you could see that fire in his eyes every time, you know, like even when he's off the court, he was like really, really focused on that. And then what I observed with him, you know, he really didn't Because he started playing futures like pretty early like when he was 15 or 16 I guess in Spain and then what I observed when he was coming to european championships, he didn't really even have a ranking on the european championships because he was already busy playing other terms

Broudy:  because he's not playing the juniors but playing the

Anton:  man. Exactly. So, but he was still like the best in his country I would say, but still they would probably send him. So the funny part is he would not not be even seated on the term and but then like meat 2nd round or maybe 3rd round like 1st, 2nd or third field just beat them like, you know like and roll down there drop without any without any problems. I remember he wants championship of, he won the european championship, that was one of the years and in Italy he won he won the match against like number guy against the german guy who was ranked like number two in europe probably at the time, he won the match was in like 15 minutes, maybe like an hour, an hour or something like that, like, like with the scores like probably one and two, I'm like, we were training at that time and we went to hit some balls with my friends and we wanted to see the match after by were still in training and already finished. I'm like, great. So, I mean, yeah, Rafa was always special in this way, you know, like I knew that I knew, yeah, I knew that guy will go all the way until then and look at look look at him now,

Broudy:  he's like the best player in the

Anton:  world right now, basically by grand slams,

Broudy:  it's amazing, you know, I had a boy play him um I coached a boy named steve Forman and he was number one in the United States and he um

Anton:  he went to

Broudy:  South Africa to play this tournament, This Nike international tournament, you ever play that one?

Anton:  Uh in South Africa? Yeah, and

Broudy:  And and and and and Raffle was there, he and and Raffle won the tournament and my boy Steven came in 5th. Uh and I think it was fifth or he lost in the, I think he lost in the semis, but he didn't play Rafa, but when I asked him, when he got home, he started telling me all about this guy, Rafael Nadal and this is when Federer had just come on the scene and was number one and he, you know, he started winning and I was a huge Federer fan huge. Well, Stephen came home from the tournament and uh and our first lesson back, we're talking and we're hitting and and he says to me, he goes, this guy, rafael on the doll is incredible, he's going to be way better than Federer. I go, you're crazy, and he goes, no, I'm telling you, man, this guy doesn't miss. He says he literally doesn't miss and he gets everything. I said, come on, you can beat him on a good day.

Anton:  And

Broudy:  He was # one in the country, in the United States and Very Cocky, Super Cocky. And he said, not a chance, not on my best day, he said, I couldn't beat Rafa on my best day if he was having his worst day, he says, because he doesn't even have a bad day. He says, every day is the same for him. He says, I couldn't beat him, no matter what. And I was shocked because he was so cocky and then he and he said he said he'll be better than Federer, I guarantee it.

Anton:  So

Broudy:  He he knew it, boys 14 and unders

Anton:  Yeah, it's more like it's more like on your best day, you come in, you might get close to him by score. So you, you you might win more games against him on your bed on your best day and he has and he has a bad day but you're totally right. Yeah, I remember that, it never seemed to me that he had a bad day, you know? Never so

Broudy:  like, like

Anton:  extremely great. Yeah,

Broudy:  he was the talk of the tournament now, I have to brag about you a little bit. Um You told me when we hit this week, which was really fun and we had a couple of times you were telling me about a very good player, you bagel, double bagel, you gotta tell me about that match dog pull off because he's a hell of a good player. I mean he's been in the top 100 maybe more, maybe top 50 for a little bit and he's not a big guy, but he's a heck of a player. I want to know what happened to him that day or what happened to you, Was it just a dream match for you or was he just not that good in the juniors?

Anton:  I would say. Yeah, I mean that was a tournament at that time. So I went to Ukraine, I went to play tournament there, that was like one of the tournament's already played before. And then yeah, alexander, he was, it was again one of his one of the best juniors in Ukraine, so and then we met each other I think it was like a second round and stuff. I think there was a second round. Yeah, we met each other, I would say. Yeah, I would just I was just playing my game, I was playing really good, I was playing really focused, I wasn't making any errors and stuff and I think Alexandra, maybe he had a bad day at the time because it was kind of windy, I remember it was really windy weather and then he was missing a lot and then he was going a little bit, just a little bit, I would say crazy. So he was like not happy the way he played and I kind of just took advantage of it and then uh stayed focused until the end. I even had a finding moment, you know, like in that match I was playing the match and then uh I was playing against him and I got mad myself for some reason because I remember hit the ball and it just made an earlier like I made an easy mistake, then I hit my record on the ground. So basically I broke my record and my mom was watching it from the tribune's from far away and I know like if I break the record, it's not really a good signs for me because records are pretty expensive things and and then, but the funny part is that I broke my record, but I didn't make us, I mean I looked at the frame and it broke it so like it's correct and I didn't make a scene out of it, so I didn't go to my bag and change rick. And so my mom observes that all like all the, all that moment. So I continued playing with this broken record. So like,

Broudy:  oh my God,

Anton:  like nothing really happened. Yeah, and I remember we have in the rally, the rally is going and I'm like I'm hitting my, one of my favorite shots back and back in the down the line, like hitting it with all the power that I get and the ball just takes off right into the fence, just like flies right in the fence, like straight and then the frame breaks, you know, and I'm like, here here is my bro. I mean I'm like, look I broke it, I broke it when they hit the ball. So I

Broudy:  was yeah,

Anton:  I was so scared to tell to tell my parents that I broke the record like on my own, but I made it seem like yeah, I did it while I was hitting the ball so it's just like, I

Broudy:  Think it's too funny this boy 16 or 18,

Anton:  You know, I think it was, I think it was 14 to replace

Broudy:  you

Anton:  and alexander at that time, he had this kind of game like the same game, he played like when he was an approach or he sports and was pretty solid. He was the funny part about this guy was that his game was so unpredictable. I mean he hits like you never know what he's going to hit to you. So it's like he can hit the slides and he can hit a drop shot and he can hit the ball and he can just push, it's like it was always different, but you know, when we were juniors, when they were juniors, you know, it's a lot of, a lot of ground strokes were involved and I would think that at that time maybe my groundstrokes were a little bit more advanced in general because he didn't really use his back and it was more like a slice or a drop shot

Broudy:  on

Anton:  that day on the day, you know, he didn't really feel it that well and he was

Broudy:  missing.

Anton:  So I Yeah, exactly and then and I was kind of really stable, like really stable and then when I was just making any errors and I knew that he was one of the best players in Ukraine, I knew that so I was before the match, I was really, really focused, you know, like I was mentally, I was mentally ready to be honest, Jack, I was really surprised that it went like that I was really shocked, honestly, I was, I thought it was gonna be like a Long three set match, but it went like just went everything to my side and I felt at some point that when we played, because he could he totally he totally probably felt that I'm not giving it up that day, I'm not sorry, and at some point, I felt like she just fell apart and then just basically after maybe the so first set, maybe like a little bit at the beginning of the second set, Yeah, I felt like he just gave it to me, you know? So at some point he just already just like, kind of, yeah, you know what I mean?

Broudy:  Yeah, in the in the juniors, it does happen if if something if junior, it's not so much like in the men today, when they play for money and the juniors, if you're having a bad day and you're a good athlete, you just go screw it, I'll just do it better tomorrow and you just you can't, it's hard to go to the well and and and and and pick it up again. It's not like they're doing the men, it's incredible.

Anton:  No. Yeah, that's what they're feeling. That's what I felt, you know, like, if you just kind of stopped, he understood that he's not gonna do it today, and then he just kind of let it go, but that's that's what I remember I felt. Yes, so, but I mean, I just did my part that I was playing, I was playing pretty good in that tournament, I got into the final, I lost in the final. But yeah, it was a great experience to play against him. And I remember after that after that, I haven't really heard about him that much. I mean just an uh uh in determines in eastern europe because that's where we usually played a lot like Russia, Ukraine and belarus like follow or lead to Lithuania, all those countries. But then that kind of, I haven't really heard about him at all. And then later when we were growing up, of course, you know? So

Broudy:  yeah, he had he had one or two good years right before Covid, you know, about 67 years ago, he had a couple good years and then and then and then he sort of fell off the map I guess it's he didn't really have anything special like Nadal with the top spin and the speed and then some guys with the serve, he didn't have a big serve,

Anton:  I would say he was really, really quick, he was really quick, you know? And he was in his unpractical unpredictability would just like throw you off the game. He he was like for example, you have a cedar like in the middle of the court and half court together, like an easy ball. He would just take his record back like he's gonna just hit that crap out of the ball and he would just make a drop shot, you know? So you're like, like it's it's just it's just funny because you like the way he went, I was watching him but he was the same kind of gun saying and juniors and I was watching him he you never know what's coming out of his records so these kind of players you know they yeah they have that's that's their weapon, you know, you never know it's like playing against playing against RAFA, you know what's waiting for you,

Broudy:  you know

Anton:  exactly what's waiting for you and it doesn't matter if you know that this it just doesn't really help at all. So you know if we're playing against him you're like every single shot is different.

Broudy:  Well yeah a lot of those guys have such strange games. I mean you have curios you have you have Santoro, you have these guys with tricky even more fees and Dustin brown. They have funny they have funny games where you're not sure what you're gonna get and if they're gonna put you off balance. Uh

Anton:  but alexander he did it all the time. Every single shot. That's that's that's an interesting moment, you know like I would say he's still he's still one of those players, he mostly used it a lot. He was like just serve and volley out all sort of like out of nowhere, you know what I mean? And then like yeah that's that's that was his thing and that's why he he was like he was pretty good on the tour and then I mean and I've heard when after junior's and juniors I'm saying when when I didn't really hear about him like I didn't see him on the storm as the one that I played I think they moved to Australia or something and I think he was training there and then out of there he became a pro and something like that, I'm not really sure but I think he moved to another country to train And that's after and then he should and then he went for pros and then he actually was doing really good. He was like what? Top 20, I guess, Top 20. And then yeah and then he was I actually liked watching him, you know I'm like yeah

Broudy:  he was fun, I have a lot of video, I love watching him.

Anton:  Yeah and I'm watching him and I'm like oh I know, I remember Alex I know this guy we played together but yet we were in juniors I mean and I was in college at the time and he was playing like a grand slams and that's basically how I said our lives, they went like different directions. So I mean I went to Coalition and he continued training I mean I wanted to continue training too, but it was just so hard. I mean you have to make the choice if either I'm going pro or I'm going or I'm going to college, I didn't want to go to college in the beginning because I wanted to give it a shot to be pro, but I'm saying it it's really hard, you have to have a you have to have a sponsor that Yeah, like I mean so you have to play tournaments all over.

Broudy:  Yeah,

Anton:  you have to have a lot of money as well, you know, because everything costs every single tournament you go it's expenses expenses and if you don't win and if you don't do well it's just going negative balance.

Broudy:  Yeah. Money down the toilet. Yeah.

Anton:  Yeah. And then that's exactly why it's so many good players like you know who like even like through junior times in europe and I'm saying I met them in college and I'm like when we're playing against the school and I see the line up, I'm like, no way. You know, like this is the guy that played like for them for other conscious like Yugoslavia at the time, which is Serbia right now. So there was Yugoslavia when I was growing up and then there was a guy Alexandra Grubin, I remember that even his name, he he was playing for Concordia University, so he was playing in new york Concordia and then he was number, he was ranked number one in D two divisions, so he was like he was he and I'm not great, you know, and I played against him but he played against Yugoslavia, so it's just funny, so kind of I mean everyone, everyone everyone's everyone goes their own road, so I mean I'm really grateful. I'm here. So, I mean there is, there is nothing, just nothing to complain, nothing to say. I'm really great, great. And over came and played college here and

Broudy:  I'm very grateful. I'm very grateful you made my life much better here in Denver because I knew nobody and you and I, you're kind enough to hit with an old man once or twice no

Anton:  jackets. It's good for me too because as, as you said, yeah, I'm like, I still, I still can, I still can hit the ball producing and I'm hitter, I'm a player. I still love the game and I still love laughter, hit balls, you know, because on you I can go full power, you know, So I'm sure you wouldn't mind at all. I can see the ball as hard as I can. But you know, obviously when you're doing lessons with the clients, you can really, I mean you can smack the ball a couple of times, like

Broudy:  nicely just

Anton:  to show just to just to show off slightly, but you cannot do it all the time. You know, that's the thing is that

Broudy:  Might frustrate a 2.5 woman. Yes, for sure.

Anton:  Yeah, I mean, no, actually, actually the opposite actually they love it, you know, so they're like, do it again.

Broudy:  I'm like, okay,

Anton:  they're like, do it again so that they actually loving it, you know, they work. Whoa. And I'm and I'm like, well sometimes I hit it and the ball goes deep and I'm like what the dinner out there, like I didn't even see

Broudy:  it,

Anton:  this is this is awesome and it's good, it's good, it's good experience for them as well too so but yeah, obviously I love playing steel and then it's a great jack and we're gonna be heating as much as we can right now summer's coming, so we should go out

Broudy:  and be fun, we're gonna have some fun. Listen, I am, you know, I tell you what, I could do this all day with you but we do, lastly the other day we played tennis for an hour and then we talked for an hour and a half so Yeah

Anton:  exactly, you know, so we're just having a good time on the tennis court. Yeah.

Broudy:  Yeah, I like when tennis is a lifestyle, that's the one thing I like in europe when I spend so much time there, you know in France and spain, you know they play tennis all day and then they have something to drink and have some lunch and then they go play maybe they have some wine and then they go play some more, it's a real lifestyle and and that's that's how I enjoy it. But unfortunately sometimes the United States it's too much of a business and not so much of a lifestyle.

Anton:  Yeah, it's a little different. That's why I mean like you can see right now it's something like if you look at all the brought to or mostly like Europeans like dominating and also

Broudy:  because they

Anton:  use the whole day, like I said, we played twice a day, there was a requirement, like you have to practice twice a day, you practice in the morning, you do drills and stuff, you do drills and then in the evening you sometimes you can do drills, like fun games and stuff, but also mostly you're playing points or metrics or things like that. And then the weekends you're playing matches only

Broudy:  metrics. So it's like,

Anton:  I mean one day off like sunday so you can just go home and relax a little bit

Broudy:  before I let you go. I have one question, when you play in um, when you play in Belarus in that area, was it most in the juniors, was it mostly

Anton:  clay

Broudy:  court or hard court or some kind of other surface?

Anton:  Oh no. In this, in the winter we play on fast surfaces, like we call it um Supreme. It's like, I mean, I remember the, the center where I trained it was a national olympic center we had, I mean I grew up on the wood about that. So I played in the woods. Yeah, it's like if you, if you, if you can like it was my first coach, the was my first coach, The one that taught me everything. I'm like I'm saying, I'm so grateful to her, you know, it's like she was the best coach I ever had, you know, she was pretty strict with me and tough with me so that she basically made me, so she made me as a person as a player. I'm like, she was left it to, you know, like especially her feeding balls was really uncomfortable to my back and because when they give that white angle, so that's why probably I was beating a lot of left to solve my life. That I think so, so but yeah, I mean, I grew up playing on the wood because we're mostly like use the school gym was like, you know that

Broudy:  that that would be tough. I've never played on wood, but I can't imagine it would be easy,

Anton:  but you kind of know what I'm talking about, right? It's like this is a school, it's a school gym, you know, they have, yeah, they have different lines for different sports, like basketball, they have tennis lines, there's a million lines, just different colors for different sports. So, so and then I grew up on net playing on the wood and it was like really fast. And then also I grew up hitting against the wall, like I mean, I was, I don't know, I mean I had I probably millions of balls against the wall and I mean if you can deal with that thing, I mean the game becomes so much easier. I remember before even stepping on the court, I was hitting against the wall most of the time, but once you once you get that you step on the court you're like this is easy because because you hit so many balls. So yeah, I grew up in there, I don't know would and then after I said when I started to like win tournaments and started to show results when we got formed in those, let's say uh how they call it like they call it a junior perspective group, you know like junior perspective groups for like the future for the future. David. Yes. So we trained in the national olympic center. The indoor surface was a supreme so it's like a rubber like.

Broudy:  Yeah.

Anton:  Yeah, it's pretty it's pretty fast too. It's

Broudy:  like yeah, yeah,

Anton:  yeah, yeah. It's it's pretty fast and stuff. And then and I think they made they made this surface and they kept that surface for for our great player maxim merely I'm sure you've heard about that guys Cuban like the greatest like one of the greatest doubles players in human doubles. Mixed doubles, all the grand slams. His different players. Yeah, yeah, yeah. He was he was a great singles but doubles most of his specialist. So that's what I'm thinking. Jack, I think, you know, they still kept that surface specifically for him. You know if we have a Davis Cup in the country. So he's his story will be unreturnable

Broudy:  because

Anton:  it's too fast. So yeah, that was indoor surface. so that's what we played on. I mean, yes, some facilities they had like called the synthetic grass. So it's it's

Broudy:  I don't like that but I know that

Anton:  was really slippery but it wasn't like it just it's like it's mostly those surfaces that were in like in bubbles. So a couple of course under bubble. So that's what they mean, their software on in your body, but it's really slippery if you don't have a balance, you

Broudy:  basically have the power

Anton:  to play. But in the summer, yeah, in the summer the whole europe plays on clay courts, it's not

Broudy:  just yeah, I think that helps a lot that helps a lot. I think that's one of the big reasons the Europeans have it all over us is because the clay courts keep you grounded, you have to stay low, you can't be up in your upper body or else you slip around, you learn how to slide. I think it gives a big advantage. Yeah.

Anton:  Yeah, it's it's true because I'm saying the whole europe just not not just our country, the whole europe, you know, they play on play course, the whole europe, especially in the summer it's all play course and you're right, you know if you play courses, it's a different game because it's more like I call it the sulking game because the rally goes way longer and then you gotta move your feet every time. So because the bounds sometimes hit the line or sometimes there's a rock, there are like little direction of the boss, you've got to be really already and it's easier on your body as well too because it's like always dealing with hardcore, you're, you might have like some some injuries earlier, but play chords like a sand, you know, it's, it's easier on your body and you played the young play course most of the time. So it's

Broudy:  plus it's real play, I played over in France and I played on the money Carlo courts right there on that final squirt where Nadal always plays and I hit with a friend there who doesn't miss

Anton:  much

Broudy:  and I'll tell you what those courts are so slow.

Anton:  I mean it's not

Broudy:  like, it's not like the clay courts, the United States, you know the hard truth, that's not really clay, that's just kind of dirt, but that orangey red clay over in spain and France and monte Carlo, that is really slow, You cannot hit a winner,

Anton:  You just can't

Broudy:  hit a winner.

Anton:  You know, it's actually very interesting, you're saying about the clay because I played in different places, you know, like in europe different countries and I'll tell you, I'll tell you that, you know, it depends where you go, I'll say when I played in Ukraine, they had that was an interesting clay that they called it the clay, I mean, but I couldn't really like, I couldn't really think, I mean it's says clay, but the funny part is there was, remember the surface, it's like, it's like you're playing on, it's not really hardcore, but like there's something hard underneath and the sand is on top of it, like a yellow sand and what I'm trying to say is when it gets really windy, that sand just blows

Broudy:  away

Anton:  most like you're playing on

Broudy:  hard.

Anton:  Yeah, like, like if the ball comes really fast, you know? So but yeah, I mean it's when, when it's fine the weather is great, it's not windy, obviously there is a lot of sand on it, but I felt like Ukrainian clay was usually faster, you know, usually faster, you know, not not in every city to so like, but but most of the places when you play what I found to myself, because I played some futures here in the United States and I played on a on a green clay, right? So you played on green clay? I found that green clay is way like is way slower than some of the red clays. That's what they found because I played, yeah, I played in Pittsburgh one time, I played in Rochester new york, it seems so much slower to me. Plus what I really liked about the green clay, it's not as slippery as a red claims. Well, that's what I found because red clay, if it's if it's not water properly and you know, you don't have and your shoes are worn out or you're gonna be like, you say, like a cow on the ice, you'll be just skinning, like left and right, you're gonna feel like it's so hard. But even even when that futures, I remember they played in Pittsburgh, they didn't even really water the course that much, and then like, the grid to the ground was so good. So that's what they found. I'm like, actually it's it's pretty, it's pretty nervous. So I kind of enjoyed playing on the on that play. But they played in different places, in different countries, go different places, you'll meet, like, let's say when I lived in Germany and I played there for a tennis club, Oh my God, they're clay was like, oh, it's like, it's like a favorite tale, you're playing it so straight. It's so good. This is just really there. They yeah, they take care of it so well, you know, they're all it every night, they have a special equipment, they're all it every night, make it straight the brush it, then roll it, then water it for the night. It's like when you come in the morning and you're like, oh my God, this

Broudy:  and they've put that calcium chloride on there, right there, it's

Anton:  all the different systems and stuff, you know, it's like, it's just when, you know, the thing is when you're playing on another good clay, you're like, oh my God, I don't want to be here, but when you, but because it's like, it's like, it's like everything goes like all over the place, it's just so funny, but when you're playing a great play, you're like, oh my God, this is nice, I mean this is just great. So it's like you just enjoying it, you skate there, like you're on and you slide and it's and this Yeah, it's pretty good. It

Broudy:  must be, it must be easier for the teaching pros because now, you know, you're on hard court, it gets to you after it's seven or eight hours, your legs start to feel it, but on clay I think clay is much much more forgiving on your legs.

Anton:  Yeah, that's true, because it's softer, you're just saying basically in the sand, I mean, obviously it gets tired, you know, from when you spend so many hours on the court and everything, But I mean that's what, that's I mean, that's what I haven't been really teaching in the clay because on the clay, I haven't really been teaching that much because I started all my teaching experience were happening here in the United States and then it's mostly hardcore.

Broudy:  So it was, it

Anton:  was always on the hard courts, I didn't really have teaching experience on clay. I mean, not just, I mean, I would say physically wise, you know, so maybe I would feel a little bit like better, but I'm sure after so many hours working

Broudy:  Well, you're still a youngster, by the way, happy birthday, you just turned 35 this week, so

Anton:  yeah, yeah,

Broudy:  Happy birthday Hey, like I said, we could just go on for hours, but we can't because people will start to go what's going on, we have other things to do, you know? But I really, man, as always, I really appreciate you and I am so thankful that we've become friends and hitting partners and just good friends. Really.

Anton:  Yeah, of course. Jackie, we should, yeah, we should be like, I'm saying whenever we have a time and we should get together, we should get together like when my schedule a little bit slow down, so we should get together, just not on the court is going down a little bit, you know, in the nature and just talking and go for a hike like you said,

Broudy:  and you're much more than a hitting partner because you're very intelligent guy and I think everyone's gonna really pick up on that today and, and I really appreciate you and, and I think um, I learned a lot today. I mean, I can't imagine any tennis player didn't because it's a fascinating, it's fascinating to play

Anton:  it

Broudy:  tournament tennis and grow up in different countries, I think

Anton:  yeah, different, like I say, like my favorite phrase to say every country go, they have a different style as well too. It's like that's what makes it fun about tennis to go to spain, they play one way, you go to more up north they're playing different way even techniques look a little bit differently grips and everything, all the changes. It's just it's just tennis is a great sport and that's why that's why we're still doing it because we love it. Yeah,

Broudy:  we love to hit the ball that's for

Anton:  sure

Broudy:  and we get to love to watch some great matches. We've seen some lately, which is really fun.

Anton:  Yeah, I'm looking forward to like french open.

Broudy:  I'm really looking forward to the french open. I hope, I hope Novak gets to play. I hope he gets to play but I'm not sure.

Anton:  So yeah, so the G. D. C. Like lately in the news that I was just reading to serve and I was just opening up their back pages as I was saying that well under like medical underwriting, he was saying the same thing, he knows how to make a joke of which one of the, one of the, I mean obviously he's one of the favorites but like even like make him even better something like did you see that recently or something? I didn't Yeah, that was

Broudy:  like, you

Anton:  know, you know this is so but yeah, something like that. Maybe if you find, yeah, but we can that can come into your place and watch your friends watch french open, we can talk about clay like as much as you want and

Broudy:  let's do it. That's a date. I promise you we will, we will find one of the good matches, you know where Nadal is playing someone or, or maybe curioser is one of the fun players and we'll definitely do that.

Anton:  Yeah, sounds good. Jack, thank you again for, for all, all for everything you do, Jack, thanks so much. It was great too. It's great to know you like, it's just, it's meant to be meant to be. Jack, thank you so much.

Broudy:  I feel the same way and thank you so much for your time today. I really appreciate it. And we'll be talking to you soon.

Anton:  Of course. Jack, thank you so much. Yeah, I will see you next week. Thanks again my friend. You can be a great sunday. Thank you guys

Broudy:  open.

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