Quick First and Second Round Matches 67

My first round match on Sunday was tough in a different kind of way. My opponent was a very inexperienced player in the national level and he told me, before the match, that he had no chance. Players who have not played many tournaments invest a lot of energy into looking at their opponent’s past record and, often, create a story for themselves about how it will go.

I too had done that in the past. Over time I learned that when someone would have an amazing record from the past, I would think to myself, “that was thirty years ago. What does it matter what someone did so long ago?”

And that is the case with any match. What was yesterday is in the past. We play the match today. On any given day, anyone can beat another player.

But my opponent was so nervous that he struggled from the first ball in the warmup. He was apologetic while, at the same time, beating himself up for his misses.

The match went quickly. He made very few service returns and struggled to return any of my shots. Only three points in the match lasted more than four shots.

So what was tough about it?

I needed to continue to focus so as to not make errors. I needed to continue to respect my opponent. I needed to avoid being casual. I needed to give my all even though far less would have been enough to win the score. My opponent deserved nothing less than my best effort. To do less would have been unfair to him as a competitor and person.

I won 6-0, 6-0 and felt that I had still gained a lot in the match to help me going forward. I was focused on nearly every ball I hit.

My Monday match had a similar outcome, 6-1, 6-0 against a better player.

I was better prepared for having focused so well on each ball in my first match.

In this match I gave nothing away.

This morning I read that the great American runner, Steve Prefontaine, would have been 65 years old today. He had said: “Somebody may beat me, but they are going to have to bleed to do it.”

One of part of my tennis mission: to be a player who is difficult to win a point against.

I brought that part of my game to the court today.

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