The best way to describe Craig Kardon's place in the game of pro tennis might have been a simple line uttered by the host of the Podcast, Kamau Murray. In describing his fellow coach, Murray mentioned how Kardon is one of the most familiar faces he sees, and he always looks forward to seeing him in his natural setting. So how did a former college tennis player from Texas end up as a premier titan on the ATP and WTA tours? There's some unquestioned luck, but there's also no shortage of hard work.

"I had practiced with Martina (Navratilova) when I was in college and we forged a relationship of respect," Kardon recalled. "After I retired in 1987, she approached me out of the blue and asked me if I would be her traveling coach." And with that, he was off to the big leagues. The No. 2-ranked player in the world sought a different voice, and Kardon offered up a perspective that clearly stuck. Navratilova opened the coaching door, and Kardon sprinted right through it.


The list of players on his pupil list remains exceptional; Lindsay Davenport, Mary Pierce, Xavier Malisse, Ana Ivanovic and CoCo Vandeweghe just to name a few. All had different styles, unique strengths and weaknesses, and it was up to Kardon to maximize the positives while strategizing to improve or in some cases avoid the negatives.

As Murray also attested to, managing people is equally if not more important than tactics, serving as a heavy portion of their conversation. When to talk in practice and when to approach (or not approach) a player was dissected verbally. It was a fascinating discussion between two men who reached the height of the tennis coaching profession, hardly strangers to high stakes and tough decisions.

The coaching conversation took several interesting twists and turns, from the transactional nature of partnerships with players to changes Kardon thinks are necessary to growing the game in the U.S. And one key point that both men agree on is simple: playing well is nice and dandy, but winning the match is all that really matters at the pro level.

"You just have to be better than the other person that day, it doesn't matter what it looks like," Kardon emphatically stated. "Watching Jenson Brooksby and Coco Gauff, how they get it done, it's amazing to see the difference in what they do point by point, and how they compete."

As Kardon enters his fifth decade of coaching pro tennis, he's still not ready to be put out to the sport's pasture. There are plenty of professionals who can (and for that matter should) seek his guidance, strategy, and expertise. This podcast features two of the elite teachers in the game, and will take you inside the minds of two people have propelled your favorite tennis players to titles and glory.