The Danger of Underestimating and Distorting Reality 151


The Danger of Underestimating and Distorting Reality

Today I escaped with a victory despite a couple of rookie mental toughness errors.

I was looking ahead to tomorrow’s potential semifinal matchup without too much concern about today’s opponent. I knew him from about twenty years ago when he was new to playing tournaments. Not having heard his name in the tournaments for so many years I figured the match would be one that would be a good practice for the tougher later rounds.

You can probably see where this going.

Even in the warmup when he was hitting strongly and consistently I thought that I see a lot of players winning the warmup and then looking like a different player once the competition started.

I was overly casual in my first service game making four quick errors as he surprised me with depth and placement. No worries, I will just jump all over his serve and take control. I lost the first three points on his serve game. Haven’t won a point yet.

I got a little lucky when I caught a line on a mishit return and did manage to scramble around for a few points and won the game. One all.

Ok. I’ve got this now. He will tighten up and start to miss.

But I was the one missing. And getting tighter.

The price for underestimating.

And then, when I couldn’t take control and of the match, rather than giving him credit for playing well and taking me out of my game, I started to feel he was getting all the breaks.

And no matter what I did, it wasn’t working.

I magnified every error.

Distortion kicked in. I kept thinking I was missing so much. I’m missing easy shots.

And when I would hit a winner, I felt I was lucky. Lucky that it wasn’t a miss.

When I would win a point I was sure that it had little to do with me. My points won were because he was playing the way I thought he could play.

Every error I made felt catastrophic. Every good shot felt like too little.

Serving at 4-4, I was down 15-40, double game point.

I went back to the fence. I took I a few deep breaths. I took inventory on the game and realized he had played very good shots to get to double break point.

“Respect him. He is outplaying me. But despite that I am at 4-4.”

I shifted. Instead of continuing to complain to myself I refocused on what I did well. Being Bob. Running for every ball. No more trying to blow this guy off the court with big offense. No more errors.

I won that game and then broke his serve for the set.

I wasn’t done yet as he was not defeated. We played four tough competitive games to 2-2. I was serving at deuce and I played like myself, working hard and played two strong points. From there I was back in reality.

No more negativity. No more disrespect. No more over exaggerating my misses. No more under exaggerating my good shots.

Just focused. I found Bob and won the set 6-3. It was an escape.

And a wake up call.

Semis tomorrow.

Expecting nothing. Ready for anything.

Postscript on distortion. Jo Ann told me I played great.


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