Name: Michael Logarzo

Home State: Victoria

Playing period: 1997 – 2001

Nickname: Garzi

Current location: Melbroune

BTT: Michael congratulations on an exceptional job in coaching Zoe Hives, was transitioning to coaching always part of the plan?

ML: When I stopped playing, coaching as a career was the furthest thing from my mind. I went to University, obtained a Bachelor of Commerce and was coaching part time to earn some money. Even when I finished my degree, I was quite lost as to what direction I wanted to take. One day, out of the blue, I received an email offering me a job in New York coaching at a Tennis Academy. A contact in Germany had recommended me. I felt I needed to get away to find myself as a person, and what better place to do it than New York. So, in the end, coaching found me. It was the best thing that ever happened to me as it allowed me to rediscover that passion for the game and gave me clarity as to the journey I wanted to take.

BTT: What do you love about coaching?

ML: Love making a difference, impacting people’s lives and assisting them on their own personal journeys. For myself, and many others I’m sure, the most profound impacts and influences in my life where from my coaches and mentors. They may have thought they were teaching me how to hit a ball, but they were also instilling life skills and values. As a coach, I take that ability to impact as a privilege and it’s a driver to continually want to improve and evolve personally. It also feeds into my thirst for knowledge and wanting to continually evolve and be challenged.

BTT: When you retired from tennis did you have a lot of support around you?

ML:Looking back, not a whole lot of support. When it was over, it was over, in every sense. Tennis, being such an individual support, there were no support networks you could turn to. It’s a case of when it’s done, everyone goes their separate ways. I had my friends outside of tennis, but tennis was my whole life and my strongest social networks and friends were from tennis. We all were on the same journeys, understood the pressures, sacrifices it took, and in that I think there was some comfort knowing you’re not alone in your thoughts and feelings. Losing that is a bit of a shock, and whilst friends and family are there supporting you, it wasn’t the same.

BTT: How would you describe the retirement process?

ML: I had wrestled with it in my head for at least 12 months before I did. I knew it was time, when I broke my hand and was happier about taking a break than being out of the game. At the time, when the decision was made, I felt more relief than anything. Moving forward for a period it was difficult. Going from dedicating your whole life from such a young age with the dream of being a pro, then it all coming to a stop, falling out of love with the game and not knowing what the next step is. Whilst for me, I was burnt out and lost a bit of a passion for the game, your identity and self-worth is challenged. Thinking back now, for a few years I was a little lost and hid behind doing a university degree as I wanted to steer away from tennis. Going from player to coach can be difficult for some people, they find it hard to take the player hat off and go into coach mode.

BTT: Tell us a bit about how you developed into a world class coach?

ML: Coaching is a lot about relationships and understanding people. Knowledge is great, but if you can’t connect with your player it won’t matter. As a player you’re in control and it’s selfish. As a coach you facilitate the process for your player. When you’re working with individuals, with different upbringings, experiences, cultures and values, it’s imperative you take time to know them and gain that trust. I always placed a high priority on personal growth and continually learning and developing in all areas. Getting out of my comfort zone, observing, workshops, research, and most importantly experiences working with players, all allowed me to develop my philosophy as a coach, which is never static. Having clarity over your own personal goals is also important. A big turning point for me was a conversation I had with Nicole Pratt several years ago. I was asked what my goals as a coach were? I gave the answer that many would probably give as to what I wanted to instil in my players, helping them to achieve their goals and so on. She then asked, ‘No, what are YOUR goals as a coach?” It changed everything for me. Whilst we are there for our players, it’s crucial to know WHY you coach and be clear in what you want to achieve personally.

BTT: What advice do you have for players nearing the end of their careers and thinking about getting into coaching?

ML: Always invest in yourself and have mentors. Be a sponge. Don’t ever think you know everything and don’t ever be afraid to ask for advice. Have people you trust, that you can talk to and learn from their knowledge and experiences. Coaching is a journey just like playing.

BTT: Let’s shift back to your playing career, who were your closest tour mates and are you still in touch beyond the tour?

ML: On tour it depended a lot as to who was travelling to the same tournaments. Taso Vasiliadis, helped me a lot in Europe and was someone who I ended up coaching with. Jed Gould and Fergus Reid are others I’m still in contact with regularly also. Jordan Kerr, Joe Sirianni and Dejan Petrovic I spent time with also. There are so many I lost contact with, that I would love to sit down and reminisce with.

BTT: Can you share a funny moment from your life on the road?

ML: Was playing a tournament in Romania, and being a Future, as with most tournaments at that level not in a great city. Small venue with 4 courts, a small shack for the referee’s office and that was about it. After arriving at the venue, having a practice, we went on the lookout for some accommodation. Thinking we struck gold, we found a cheap hotel, nothing too fancy but good enough for a group of players grinding on the Futures tour. As the week wore on, we wondered why no other players were staying there. As the food was awful and not trustworthy also, we ended up eating McDonald’s daily to get us through. I ended up making the singles final, and at the end of the week whilst talking with some locals, we discovered the reason why no other players were anywhere near our hotel. Turned out the top 2 floors of the 4-floor hotel we were staying in were used as an Adult establishment. Went a long way to explaining why it was pretty quiet during the day!

BTT: What drew you to becoming and IC member?

ML: Historically, I don’t think tennis as a sport has done a great job in preparing and transitioning players for life after retirement. The IC is fantastic in connecting the tennis family and wanting to bridge that gap and providing a network and support for players once they retire. From a personal experience, it would have been fantastic to have had people to speak to and that support once I finished playing. There are a lot who are ‘silently’ suffering and to have that platform to assist those players is invaluable.

Where are you based nowadays? Melbourne, Victoria

Cheers Garzi, great to see how well you are doing with everything and thanks for being and IC member!