© Ella Ling

Andy Murray - defeat

Petchey: How to blag a career as a TV commentator


Start off with a very average career:
“That’s very important if you want a TV commentary job. I was probably on the other side of average. Oh, try to sneak some wins against top players – I beat Michael Stich after he had travelled halfway around the world after playing a six-hour Davis Cup match. Put something in Michael Chang’s drink in Los Angeles and beat him. Defeat some players before they start to fulfil their talent, like Pat Rafter. So people then think you could play a bit – that’s the first part of blagging a TV career.”
Play tennis in a nation that does not have a lot of great players:
“That can throw you to prominence. Places like Georgia, Uzbekistan, Britain. If you’re from Spain or France, see if you have a grandparent from another country, and look into switching nationality.”
Find a player who is desperate for a coach:
“They’re happy for you to do it for nothing as you’re looking for a second career after failing at the first one. That’s exactly what happened to me. I went on the tour with a Croatian girl. While you’re on the tour, try to find another player to give you a bit more credibility. With just one player, you’re beholden to their results.With two, you can mask the months of bad results with one player with the other player’s results. Quantity rather than quality has been my mantra over the years. It’s all about building your profile, and the end goal of getting your face on TV. They are small steps, but you never want to lose sight of the prize. At some stage, you’re going to be in the right place at the right time. People are going to be that desperate that they hand you a microphone.”
Get some fluky results as a coach:
“Don’t let anyone know that you weren’t at events when your players won them. That would obviously detract a little bit from their success. The Croatian girl won Strasbourg when I wasn’t there. She did win the tournament in the Gold Coast, too, and I was there, but it was more by coincidence than anything else. I was on holiday, and was texting her. Andy Murray won San Jose when I wasn’t there. It was half-term and I needed to be at home with the kids. I was the best in the world at coaching players over text-message. The good thing about texting is that you can get information from coaches who know what they’re talking about, and then pass it off as your own work. Again, don’t lose sight of the prize. The player is building your reputation, and talking to other people about you.

“Once they realise that you’re just blagging it as a coach, try to walk away with a bit of dignity. Don’t react to any comments. Accept it, move on, realise that you were lucky to get any time you had with them. Be happy with that. You want people to think that you put them on the path, and that’s going to help you get on TV.”
Hang out in TV studios as often as you can:
“Email the TV companies a lot, phone a lot. The first time I did TV commentary, I think I might have broken the world record for ‘erms’ in a live broadcast. I’ve edited most of those out on my showreel, that’s the beauty of modern technology. It will sound seamless. Unlike anything I do now.”

  • Leo

    LOL, I am loving it. Petchey is easily the best tennis commentator in Europe. Keep it up, Mark, you’re doing a fantastic job.