As the top seed, I was put on the feature court. I love to play when people are watching as it is a constant reminder to hold myself to the high standards I set for myself of being a fair and respectful opponent, to play hard each and every point, to be accepting and non judgmental and to play with dignity and class. I want, always, to be an example that I see set by my sports heroes Federer, Nadal, Manning, Jeter, Gretsky.
In the singles I played fine tennis, staying well within myself, returning serve consistently, serving with good variety and keeping my error count low. I appreciate my own game when I stay away from overdoing anything. I hit shots that are within my level and feel solid knowing that I don’t need to be better than “just Bob.” This past winter I got in touch with a new level of confidence, a knowing that I can “just be Bob” that is being the best I am. To try to be better than that often escalates me into the error zone. Of course I continue to work on improving but that is so that I can just be Bob at another level. So I played with this confidence yesterday, doing what it took and I won against a solid, but somewhat inexperienced opponent, 6-1, 6-0.
Charlie and I played a strong doubles match against two fine players. My confidence carried forward. When feeling it there is very little that compares. I feel that I can make every shot and I am surprised when I miss one. I accept it and move on as it is part of the game but the quiet confidence and certainty remains. It builds with each shot and point. When feeling it I love forward to every shot and am willing to do go for it each time. Sometimes the confidence is fleeting but yesterday I took it out of my tennis bag and kept in with my on the court through both matches. We won 6-2, 6-2.
Matches will be even tougher today as, in the round of 16 seeds start to meet in both singles and doubles.
The US Open has me in a major tennis mentality. My favorite player Roger Federer is struggling and the question of whether or not he will continue to compete is thrown at me by a number of people. Will he be ok losing to players who have been behind him? Will he be able to deal with a lower ranking and earlier losses? Can he tolerate playing on the Grandstand rather than the Stadium? Of course, I don’t know what is going on in his mind and I am careful to avoid telling someone else’s story. What I do know, though, is my story. When I was going through recovery from hip surgery, I was faced with similar questions. My story is that I love competition. I love who I need to be as a competitor and that competing means playing against people that are challenging. If my level were to drop off, I would still have the opportunity to compete. I might have to make some ego adjustment but that would be healthy as attachment to an image is unappealing to me. Would I stop? No! There are only two reasons that I would stop. If I lose the passion for competing or if my body kept me from being able to do what I love.
I hope that Fed has not lost the passion and will continue to bring his majestic game to the court.