| By Carl Barnett

Have you ever had a complete meltdown? I mean, the type where you forget who is there, what was said, and basically, even forget many of the details of what has happened. By now, the entire world saw Serena Williams’ episode with the line judge at the U.S. Open women’s semifinal on Sept. 12.

Megan Liston BS,CASAC, our counselor at Early Hit Training, says she’s not alone.

“It often happens to people after accidents and domestic disputes, when someone is so enraged, they’re experience is like a black out,” said Liston.

This article is not an editorial on bad behavior. Yes, as a coach I cringed because I knew where she was headed. As a player, I felt for her poor fortune at the timing of the call, and as an adult, I felt for her parents who had to watch their child’s most troubling and graphic display of anger and loss of control before millions of people.
Granted, Serena has had a history of bad calls against her at the Open, w have all listened to people argue for weeks as to whether or not it was a good call. What really matters was how it was handled and not whether it was correct. Serena had saved serve on numerous occasions all summer from love-40. On those occasions, we saw the grit, determination and fine play that has gotten Serena to where she is today.

During coverage of one of the earlier Grand Slams this year, Martina Navratilova discussed how when we start a point at over 150 heartbeats per minute, we lose 95 percent of the time. You can only imagine where Serena’s heartbeat was after being that frenzied.

Steve Kaplan’s wonderful article, “Non-Psychological Solutions to Choking” (Long Island Tennis Magazine, Vol.1, Number 5), sites Reggie Miller’s superior VO2 max, which led him to become one of the all-time clutch shooters in basketball. Fitness certainly provides strength and a steady hand. Fitness also promotes focus, which leads to good judgment. If only Serena had better focus at that moment.

Bob Litwin, tennis champion and focus expert, made a great point at the recent Long Island Tennis Expo.
“Every thought has a consequence,” said Bob.

Due to the in-depth coverage of television, we all got to hear what Serena was thinking.

Consequence one … a loss to Kim Clijsters, 6-4, 7-5 and a chance to defend her 2008 U.S. Open Championship in the finals. Consequence two … on Nov. 30, the Grand Slam Committee fined Serena $82,500.

That brief loss of focus cost Serena her dignity which is the hardest thing to regain.

Carl Barnett

<p>Carl Barnett started the Early Hit Training Programs at Glen Head Racquet Club six years ago. He may be reached by phone at (516) 455-1225 or e-mail <a href="mailto:earlyhit@optonline.net?subject=Tips%20From%20the%20Tennis%20Pro%2...@optonline.net</a>.</p>