What three questions do you ask yourself before a tennis match? What are your private, self-explorative thoughts that can improve your mental state and physical game?
I will share my innermost questions. I keep it simple and ask only three. The questions vary, dependent on a social or competitive match, but they follow a similar theme.
How can I treat my partner like my best friend?
When playing doubles, I aspire to build a rapport with my partner. For two hours, I want them to know that they are the most important person on court. I have their back. If they are forced off court by a wicked angled shot, I swoop toward the middle to cover their side of the court and mine. If they lunge for a poach, I prepare for a return by crafty opponents…just in case. I wink and say positive team-building comments throughout the match.
What am I going to work on this game?
I am always in pursuit of a better weapon to launch against opponents, and a strategy for more consistent play. I will attempt more swinging volleys and take response time away from opponents. Or perhaps I will hit a higher percentage of first serves into the box. What the heck, I’ll do both.
What is the most important thing that I want at the end?
I want to be drenched in sweat with a big smile on my face. I want all players to have enjoyed long thrilling rallies.
How did I do? I communicated with my partner. I waited patiently for the right ball to use the swinging volley stroke. At the end of the match, I exited the court with a smile on my face and a joy of physical exertion. On my inner scoreboard, I gave myself a seven out of ten. I crave for more first serves to land in and more accuracy on my volleys.
Did you notice? I never asked, “What do I need to win?” If I treat my partner like my best friend, implement a new weapon to confound the opponents plus my game remains consistent, and I never give up, what do you think will be the final match score?
Wink, Wink. Smile.
Barbara Wyatt is a Writer, Photographer, USTA Official, and Mobile App Developer of iKnowTennis!, the tennis rules app. Her poem, Ode to Tennis, an amusing poem on the joys and frustrations when learning tennis, is available at Amazon. She can be reached by e-mail at BarbaraW@iKnowTennis.com