After leaving college, I coached tennis with former Canadian number one Marjorie Blackwood at the Whistler Club. Topspin became the focus of my teaching.
I started to notice something that would change my life. People learn tennis quicker when they master topspin. But there was only one of me – there had to be a better way to reach more people. I needed a training aid.
This became my obsession. It kept me awake at night. It drove me to build one contraption after another. And it ultimately changed how players all around the world learn topspin.
Here's our story, from the humble acorn to the mighty oak that TopspinPro has become today.
I'm in the Atlas Mountains, unable to sleep at high altitude. I put the night hours to good use. I come up with some primitive early sketches of how a topspin training aid could look. Da Vinci has nothing on me.
I lash together a hula hoop, a coat hanger and a tennis ball with some duct tape. Boy is it ugly, but the basic idea is there. Crucially, so is the steep racket path favoured by the pros and the use-anywhere convenience.
Further prototypes follow, including this one forged out of metal and more closely resembling the unit we know today. The spring-loaded ball and racket-path guide are both there.
The TopspinPro Mark I is born. Now I know I can make learning easier and more fun. Then people can get past the early hurdles and move on to the fun stuff. Like outwitting their opponent.
Backed by a little Kickstarter funding, we launch TopspinPro on a street corner outside Wimbledon, the home of tennis. Andy Murray's then-coach Jonas Bjorkman orders two. Monica Niculescu (world-ranked 39) crosses the road, shoots a video and buys three. TopspinPro gets endorsed by the Australian Tennis Professional Coaches' Association.
TopspinPro passes 20,000 units sold in over 80 countries. Along the way, we gather hundreds of five-star Amazon reviews from delighted coaches and players.