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Women tennis players carrying 'excess baggage,' says top coach

Thursday, January 22, 2009 , Posted by Linda at 10:58 AM

MELBOURNE – A leading Australian coach has sparked controversy by accusing some women players of carrying "excess baggage," referring to their weight.

Women tennis players carrying 'excess baggage,' says top coach A leading Australian coach has sparked controversy

Roger Rasheed, who used to coach Lleyton Hewitt and is now in charge of top French player Gael Monfils, was quoted by Melbourne's Herald Sun as saying fitness was a super-important "controllable."

"There's two things you can control in tennis -- one's your physical conditioning," said Rasheed, who labelled the serve as the other.

"I'm baffled that girls in sport, in tennis, can actually carry excess baggage.

"That means you're slower, your mind doesn't work as well, you can't recover, you can't recover off shots.

"It means you can't play the shots you want to play often enough against the better players. So you lose."

He singled out Australia's Casey Dellacqua, who crashed out of the Australian Open in the first round and has been accused of being out of shape.

"She may have had some injuries, she's had a shoulder, but that doesn't actually stop you from getting into real tip-top shape," Rasheed said.

Dellacqua's coach Nicole Pratt refused to comment.

"From a professional stand-point, I'd rather not answer back on that one," she told the newspaper.

Tennis great Margaret Court was quoted by the newspaper as saying women players were more match-fit in her day.

"I don't think they're as fit as we were when we were playing. We played three events and had to back up," Court said.

Last year at the Open, Rasheed drew criticism as a commentator when analysing a replay segment of a Venus Williams match which concentrated solely on the American's buttocks.

"Take a look at this now. Make or think as you will, ladies, but for me, that's a pretty good sight," he said.

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