Michael Shepheard – Hard Work Pays Off!

Ryan Palfrey from Vida Essendon has been coaching Michael Shepheard over the last few years.  Michael has recently come back from the National Championships with exceptional results.  Only a year ago Michael was struggling with his results and motivation.  However, after setting goals and working hard, he is starting to benefit from his new mind set.  The following is a piece written by Michael Himself.  Additionally, the video also shows some exercises and activities he has implemented over the last year.

– In December 2014 my ranking was below where I and the people around me had expected it to be. I had good results through 12’s and had the benefit of good coaching in Darwin when I was really young.


I was very disappointed that I had fallen behind the pack a fair way and was struggling to compete, only winning one match at December Showdown. This all occurred because I was very unfit and couldn’t run out matches, I didn’t work hard, I had no motivation, and had no self-belief that I was any good.


There were still people who believed in my ability and that I could change and one of them was my coach Ryan Palfrey.. Although this was the case it could only happen if I worked hard and changed my attitude and found some motivation.

At the start of 2015 I was lucky enough to get one last chance to get myself up to where I wanted to be again.


Ryan gave me a whole heap of strength and fitness exercises including, sprints suicides, a small amount of long distance running and strength exercises to help with injury prevention. I made the time to do these outside of school and my regular training.


I also did skipping on one and two legs and movement drills, often in the driveway. The movement drills consisted of change of direction and footwork pattern practice.

In my tennis training we were focusing on getting more spin and height over the net, not forgetting to keep using my legs and lots of drills focusing on getting around to a good position to hit my forehand, which is my weapon on the court. Ryan and I would train until I had to lay down on the court because I was so tired.

With in just a few months everyone could see the massive improvement in how much quicker I was around the court, how much fitter I was and that I was starting to believe in myself.


By the start of Vic State Champs in April I was playing a lot better, I got seeded 8 and had a fairly good draw. I made it to the quarter-finals in both the lead in event and state champs. In the lead in event I had to play Dane Sweeny, I had never even got close to Dane when playing him in previous matches. This match just showed how much I had improved and how much my results had improved. Although I lost I played really and only lost 7-6 7-5. With set points in both sets!

My State champs quarterfinal I lost to Connor Di Marco. Connor is very consistent always making it hard for me to beat him. I lost but from that match Ryan and I had a clear direction about what I needed to improve to compete in those matches.

After this tournament was over I had one last national’s in U14s to have a real crack at. I had three months to show that I had once again improved. I kept working harder and harder. I got more strength exercises including one leg squats on a half foam roller, rows using the thero band and plyometric exercises.


I improved dramatically. Nationals had come around again. I wasn’t seeded and nearly had to qualify but my coach and Jane (his wife) still believed that my hard work would pay off.

I won my first round pretty easy and had to play the number 8 seed second round. I had lost to this player in previous years but I thought I had a fair chance. I won! 7-5 6-3. I didn’t really play my best but I still managed to get myself over the line. Next in quarters I had to play the number 2 seed who I lost to at December Showdown. I won again. I didn’t just beat him but I smashed him 6-2 6-2. I was very happy already coz I had gone one round further then I ever have. I prepared myself for semi finals the next day.

I started unbelievably and got myself 6-0 1-0 up. Although I was winning easily I started to miss my shots more and more. Suddenly I found myself losing the second 6-3 and getting 2-1 down in the final set. Even though I wasn’t playing well at all anymore I started to rally and try to get some rhythm back because I knew with my game style I was bound to comeback. I somehow dug myself out of a hole and won 6-4 in the final set. I was un-seeded and in the final!

Final day was horrible for me I played terrible. It was very windy and my game style struggles in the wind massively. I lost 6-1 6-1. I was very upset and a bit teary after my performance. I was still happy though that I made final of the nationals, Jane and Ryan were over the moon and were very proud of what I had accomplished. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without Jane and Ryan and I love them to bits for that.Pretty much all this is saying is hard work really does pay off!! 

Now all I have to do is work even harder again and take that one step further!!

Michael Shepheard.







Vida Tennis