Podcast - Casey Curtis

Behind every great shot in tennis, there's a story of a hard work and preparation that enabled the player to his such a pristine winner. You don't have to watch Milos Raonic very long to identify what his signature shot is. That mammoth serve looks so simple yet arrives so violently across the net, forcing the opposing player to cover up in the corner as the ball rains down like body blows in boxing.

Behind one of the best serves of all-time is the story of a man from America who traveled north of the border and helped Tennis Canada reach their greatest successes. Casey Curtis was a California native, a tennis lifer, and will always be an honorary Canadian.

His appearance on this week's Podcast with Kamau Murray examines that early work with Raonic, how he grew the sport in an unconventional region, and what's next for the coach and for the Great White North.


So, how did Curtis help generate such a dominant serve off of Raonic's racquet anyway? The method is the exact same one he teaches to all of his students, but in the end it came down to repetition more than anything else.

"I never understand everybody going, 'Oh yeah, the serve is the most important shot in the game,' and then putting 10-15 minutes into it," Curtis reasons.

He put an hour a day into that serve, day after day, until the tall Canadian could perform the motion in his sleep. "I think you should be able to close your eyes and hit your serve. Basically the top is going to be in the same place every time, same height, same spot. So you should be able to shut your eyes and serve. And I'm pretty sure Milos can do that."

One of the key parts of Curtis' journey that impressed Murray was his commitment to stay in Canada for a great deal of his player development tenure. Curtis, who now lives and operates in Florida, spent several decades braving the elements and training in the cold climate. That was greatly appreciated by the host, who remains committed to his home town of Chicago.

Milos showed everybody, 'Hey guys we can do this, we can do it right here,' because we trained in Canada. Casey Curtis

"Milos showed everybody, 'Hey guys we can do this, we can do it right here,' because we trained in Canada," Curtis explained. "Believe it or not, at Blackmore (a tennis club in Ontario) the guy who owned it would let Milos and I come in at 6 a.m. But he said, 'You guys can use the court, we'll turn on the lights, but I'm not turning the heat on until 7 a.m.'

"And, I'm not kidding, we were in there, I've got gloves on sometimes, and Milos is in there hitting serves. But he showed that it could done."

Curtis continues to work with the next generation of Canadian tennis hopefuls, who have joined him in migrating to Florida for what he describes as optimal tennis training conditions. He's optimistic that the next generation can have success in the pro game, but acknowledges that they have a tough act to follow in the men and women that currently make up Canada's greatest tennis generation.

Murray leads an insightful conversation on training methods, attracting the best athletes to the sport itself, and how they see the future of player development changing in the years to come. So pull up a chair and listen to the California man who journeyed north and made a sizable impact in the global growth of tennis.