It Never Gets Old 197

It Never Gets Old

All of us, before a match, like to get a short warmup in with another one players still left in the tournament. Steven Radigan, a player from Connecticut that I competed with when I was living and playing on Long Island twenty years ago. We both had tough seeded opponents to play Thursday morning. While walking into the court, he asked me, as others have, “does this ever get old for you?” I didn’t need to think too much to answer him. Yes, the tournaments sometimes get old. Similar sites, Similar players. Similar conversations about injuries. Living for a week in a hotel. Doing laundry. 

But I had a longer answer. 

It never gets old for me to work on improving. As my skill level is pretty high for the world I play in, there may not be all that much that I can improve. Maybe 1%. But that is what I play for. To improve a part of me that can improve. When I improve, even in a small way, some part of my competitive skills, I am improving myself. I become a more complete version of myself. A better Bob. As a performance coach I am lucky to work with people who are already great. They, too, want the 1%. I cannot do my job effectively if I am not doing what I ask my clients to do. I get to model. I get to walk my talk. So every day, in whatever activity I am engaged in, I get to work on improving.

My quarterfinal was one where my focus was not only strong, but also the endurance of my focus was great. I played nearly each point as a separate match, taking my time before serving or receiving. I had one moment at 4-0 serving where I got overconfident and started to work on a serve that I had not been executing. I hit a couple of double faults and then lost my serving rhythm. I lost that game and was in trouble in the next game. But my point by point mentality came back quickly and I dialed in with even more focused strength than before. I had one more mental slip into the future as I started to think about what I was going to say to my opponent after the match was over. The score was 6-1, 4-0. I instantly dropped two points. A quick reminder that no lead is too big and I got my focus back. 

I won the match against a quality opponent, 6-1, 6-0. A very good outing for me that has me now in the semifinals. It will get tougher, as it always does in a tournament.

After the match ended I told my opponent, Mas Kimball, that I appreciated his level of focus and no quit attitude. Not easy when the score is going so against a player. But he played tough until the very last point. I know how I have improved as a competitor when I can appreciate my opponent not going away. He played like a champion.

Doubles followed and Beautyman and I played like a team that has played together for years. All of our off court strategizing and on court practice came together for a 6-2, 6-1 win. On to the doubles finals on Friday. 
Woke up this morning to a rainy forecast. Just another challenge to accept what is and to stay adaptable as I can be called on to play at any moment.

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