This article is the first part of Dr. Ferraro’s series, The Tennis Guru. It appeared in the January/February 2020 issue of Long Island Tennis Magazine.
Once upon a time there was a boy named Yin. He was an ordinary boy with ordinary talent. He was not particularly strong or tall or fast. He was not that smart, nor special in any way, except for one thing: He loved tennis. He had been shown the game by his father who played often and ever since Yin heard the sound of the ball against the racket he was mesmerized and rarely thought of anything else. During class he paid no attention to the teacher’s lessons but instead spent his time either drawing pictures of tennis courts or fantasizing about playing a match against Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal.
He dreamt about tennis at night and played tennis at least five days a week. He was lucky because he had an older brother, Yang, who played tennis too, so Yin always had someone to play with. And when Yang went off to spend time with his friends, Yin went into the basement and hit balls against the concrete wall.
He made up imaginary matches during wall practice and even went so far as to keep track of each point scored as he played. He would do this hour after hour and, on occasion, his mother would come down to the basement to do laundry and watched her son pound away with his racket. She would worry that her son was too obsessed with the game and would sometimes try to coax him out of the basement to go to the library. And when he was taken to the library he found the section on tennis, only worsening his obsession with tennis.
It was no surprise that Yin got better at tennis and when he tried out for his high school team, he made it on the first try.
But of course this is where Yin’s problems emerged. For reasons he could not understand, he always seemed to lose to players he was far better than. His coach could see this problem as well and kept lowering his rank until he was forced to play against kids who could barely get the ball over the net.
All this led to shame, embarrassment, despair and lots of anger. He grew into a hot head and would often scream, curse, throw rackets and generally act like a big baby. In the past he loved tennis, but now he grew upset and unhappy.
It got so bad that one day, after a particularly shameful loss, he went into the backyard where Yang was hanging out and asked, “Yang I do nothing but choke like a toad in nearly every match I play. I can’t seem to handle pressure. What can I do?”
Yang smiled at him and said, “Not to worry little brother, I have just the solution. You ought to go see The Tennis Guru.”
“Oh wow! That sounds good to me! How much does it cost? Where does he work? Is it far from here? Is he taking new students?”
“Slow down little fella,” Yang replied. “Way too many questions. The Tennis Guru is high-priced but more important than that, the training he puts his students through is like real torture. Are you very sure you’re up for it?”
“Yes. I’m definitely up for it,” said Yin. “Just show me the way big brother. Show me the way.”
Yang turned Yin around, pointed to a big mountain which was far in the distance and said: “You see that mountain over there? The Tennis Guru teaches his students in an academy on the top of that mountain. It is a perilous, exhausting and expensive journey to get to his academy. All those who want greatness in tennis have climbed up there and have had to face many demons on the way up. Think it over before you say yes. If you decide to make this journey, I will accompany you to the top. If you say yes, tomorrow we will begin our journey.”
Dr. Tom Ferraro
For consultations, treatment or on-site visits, contact Dr. Tom Ferraro Ph.D., Sport Psychologist, by phone at (516) 248-7189, e-mail DrTFerraro@aol.com or visit DrTomFerraro.com.