I Yam What I Yam 201


“I Yam What I Yam”
Popeye

One day out from the tournament and I am feeling good. In the seven weeks since my one month break from playing I have trained my physical and mental in the gym and on the court.

In the gym I worked with aggressive dedication on building strength, endurance, flexibility and resilience, pushing myself to do what I used to think I couldn’t do. I realized that what I couldn’t do was just where I was, not where I could be. So when my mind said no, I took it as a call to arms. It required belief and focus. I expanded my physical capacity by saying yes I can to the no I can’t. My focus deepened.

On the court I stayed on a slow even trajectory. There is never a hurry on the tennis part of who I am. I start wherever I am in my game (what choice do I have?) and I day by day I work to eliminate what is not helpful and add what I think will be helpful.

Playing sets, I stay free of concerns about winning, doing what I can to detach from the score. I never detach entirely because score awareness will always be there, even in my most focused moments. I work to maintain the balance between playing each point and knowing how the points are building blocks to a preferred outcome. Of course I love to win and don’t like to lose. Thankfully, after so many matches I feel the wins in the work that I am doing, not just the score.

I continue to build my acceptance muscle that allows me to be ok with the normal ups and downs of the game. I accept that every day on the court I will be doing some stuff at the high end of my skill and some stuff at less than my high end. As Popeye said, “I yam what I yam.” The pressure is rarely there when I accept that I am what I am. I am not my old story and not yet my new story. Never perfect. Working toward being better. Always on the journey. That is who I am.

And I keep tweaking my game. Being more dedicated to my serving rituals. That is a new story. My old story was “I am a casual player. I just get up to the line and serve.” That story stopped working for me. Looking for more inside out and inside in forehands required extra focus on more active footwork, another thing that my casual approach kept me from accomplishing. Getting up on the short ball quicker to make more effective approach shots. My old story of being casual began to disintegrate replaced by a level of physical enthusiasm that seemed to have faded when I first got to Colorado a few years ago. I think it was my defense against losing so often to my tough practice partners. It is nice to leave that in my rear view mirror. I am what I am. Another new version of myself. Who I was plus some more good and some less bad.

Eager to start with my first singles match tomorrow.


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