Quick First and Second Round Matches 9

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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9 thoughts on “Quick First and Second Round Matches

  • Dale Karp

    Congratulations on your wins! Your comments are always enjoyable to read; and hopefully, all of us who read your blogs can implement them when we are on the court.

  • Fred Drilling

    Please leave us a link to the tournament so we can continue to see how you and the other players are doing.
    Good luck in the tournament.

  • ed schroback

    Great playing Bob, it is somewhat tricky with those quick matches…Your concept of making it “difficult to win a point against” still gives you a challenge..Mentally this will carry over as the tournament progresses..Stay strong my friend..

  • richard horsley

    I am the ‘beginner’ that thought that way in my first Cat II tournament….so true. I lost berfore I started,now I FOCUS and see what happens as the match progresses.
    simple joys,

  • Howard

    I have experienced your first match from both sides. I used to be the nervous one with very little experience getting trounced by much more experienced players. I have also lost to players with less experience because I was unable to focus. Empathy may have played a role in those losses. Now I am able to play my best against anyone since I have taken your advice to heart about improving and not proving.