Scarlett Hutchinson wins Mini Orange title

Halton and Everyball player Scarlett Hutchinson today won the Orange Grade 3 Event today at Riverside, Bedford winning all 5 of her round-robin matches by some superb serving and net play. Lara Hill also played the event and had a number of very close competitive matches showing real hustle and determination as well as some positive attacking play and lethal drop shots. Great job Scarlett and Lara.

Mike and Scarlett discuss her performance today having braved the cold - no wind or rain though!!

Fighting hard from tough positions.......

Imagine a game of football that plays to the following scoring system. Team A wins the first half 3-0, but at the beginning of the second half the scores are put back to 0-0. If team A wins the second half, they win the match because they have now won two halves to nil, but if team B wins the second half, say 1-0, then the match is tied and a third half has to be played to decide the outcome. Sounds a bit crazy right! Well, that's pretty much the scoring system in tennis, but even then tennis is different because there is no clock. There is always, always a way back into the match, no matter if you are 6-0, 5-0, 40-0 down. Your opponent can't run the clock down, they can't waste time, they've got to put the nails in the coffin and finish you off. And we all know that's a tough job don't we? What an amazing scoring system! One to embrace and one that encourages us to keep fighting, to keep putting our very best effort out on the court no matter what the score because there is always a way back.

There are so many examples in the game of amazing comebacks, but probably the one that sticks most in my mind is when Ivan Lendl came back from two sets down in the final of the 1984 French Open against John McEnroe to win his first Grand Slam. McEnroe was playing unbelievable tennis that year, the best of his career, and coasted through the first two sets and was leading 2-0 in the third. He managed to lose that but recovered to 4-2 in the fourth and was serving at 40-30 on the absolute brink of victory. McEnroe as usual had gone wide with his first serve and Lendl replied with a chip backhand cross-court. Mac came in behind it: 'My first inclination was to hit a drop volley and go for the winner, but then I decided, no, no, just play it a little safe.....I decided just to float the volley deep, make him pass me. I went against my gut. And I missed the volley. I pushed it the tiniest bit, and it floated out. I don't remember the points after that. It goes in a blur.' (John McEnroe, 'Serious')

So, keep fighting hard from tough positions - there is always a way back into the match and just when you start thinking it's a lost cause, your opponent, just like McEnroe in that '84 final, may be battling with his/her demons just to get over the finishing line.

Being competitive - going as far as you can using all you've got!

In the mould of Brad Gilbert's Winning Ugly, I love to see a player come through a tough match when not performing at their best. It means they have been resourceful, smart and pragmatic, showing an ability to understand what tools or weapons are at their disposal on a given day, and putting those to best use.

Gilbert writes: 'When I go into a match I take my lunch bucket, my hard hat, and expect to work for my pay.' I love that - effort based language that suggests when it's not all flowing on the day I'm gonna roll up my sleeves and figure it out. For me, those are the real triumphs - the ones to treasure, the ones where you've really had to compete.

International update

Everyball Players compete in Europe and Asia on the ITF Junior Tour.

Tor Pisani writes about her first ever ITF match - Grade 4 in Andorra, Spain over the weekend:

Second match on centre court against a Spanish girl also without a ranking (ITF). After a close first set, with very short rallies and far too many unforced errors on my part, she took it 7-6. Realising that I needed to make more balls, make her play, and generally take it to her helped me to take the second set comfortably 6-1. So nearly two hours on court and we were heading in to the third. I got off to a very good start, went up a break straight away and started taking control. She was losing it mentally and not long after I was 5-1 up and she was serving to stay in it. An awesome service game on her part and I was serving for the match. I wasn't feeling at all nervous. Much. A tight, sloppy service game and it was 5-3. A quick glance at phil sitting in the stands and a little encouragement (not coaching!!) was enough- a solid service game and I took the match. Woop woop!!

Katy Dunne wins first round of Thailand Grade 2 but loses a tough second round against seeded player Katharina Lenhert from Germany in 3 sets - still in the doubles.

Alex Clark won her first round against a tough Czech opponent today at a Grade 4 in the Netherlands - going strong and has to play her doubles partner tomorrow in second round.

Being competitive

For the last couple of weeks we (at the academy) have spent a lot of time discussing what being 'competitive' means and the behaviours associated with being so:

1. Going as far as we can using all that we've got on a given day
2. Fighting hard from tough positions knowing there is always a way back
3. Running down everyball, no matter what the situation/circumstance
4. Focusing on helpful attentional material - match goals, in between point routines etc
5. Catching negative thoughts (self-talk) and re-framing with positive ones; change the thought change the feeling mentality
6. Keeping/remembering score and calling the lines accurately (not giving points away but being fair)
7. Body language that shows confidence, fight, and a 'I can handle anything you throw at me' attitude
8. Attending to errors; figuring out why we missed and looking to make necessary adjustments
9. Demonstrating that competition is a privilege and that as performers we meet our own expectations under pressure
10. Demonstrating that it is my choice to compete and I'm aware of the possible 'triumph' or 'disaster' that may result!

Over the next few days I'll be exploring these points a little further so I hope you'll read on. Hope you're having a good weekend.

If at first you don't succeed.....

Did you know that Darwin and Tolstoy were considered ordinary children? That Ben Hogan, one of the greatest golfers of all time, was completely uncoordinated as a child? That the photographer Cindy Sherman, who has been on virtually every list of the most important artists of the twentieth century, failed her first photography course? That Geraldine Page, one of our greatest actresses, was advised to give it up for lack of talent? (Mindset, Dr. Carol Dweck)

A person's true potential is unknown and it's impossible to foresee what can be accomplished with years of passion, toil, and training.

Let's just focus on that word 'toil' for a moment. I think toil is linked with 'error' and 'failure', two words that seem to carry negative connotation. But can we see error and failure in a different light? Can we actually turn them into a gift?

We believe that intellectual and physical skills can be developed through effort, so let's not be discouraged by failure, let's not even think we are failing, but instead let's think we are learning and through our errors and failures, 'scaffolding' ourselves up to higher levels. That's why we 'fight for every ball' - the language of 'effort' helps us to identify with the ground level struggle of failing, correcting, trying again, failing, correcting..... The philosophy of 'Everyball' (and the name given to our Academy at Halton Tennis Centre) is a call to arms, a philosophy to inspire greater effort, deeper practice and improved performance both on and off the court.

As everyball players we fight with our heads, hearts and legs. We make smart decisions and play with purpose and clear intention, we are courageous, resolute and determined, and we have the physical condition to run every last ball down. As performers we seek to live up to our own expectations under pressure, and we understand that our 'potential' is our capacity to develop our skills with effort over time (see Mindset again).

As everyball people we seize each day with integrity, courage and creativity. We seek to embrace discomfort and we take each day as an opportunity to grow and improve, meeting head-on the full range of life experience.

Committed to change?

As coaches we seek to 'sell' change. As players, we hope we are able to embrace that change to improve, but real change only takes place with 'absolute commitment.' Absolute commitment means we will do whatever is needed to create the desired results. We will use creativity, courage and persistence to deal with problems and obstacles. Where does commitment begin then? Larry Wilson in 'Play to Win' outlines 5 levels of commitment beginning with 'passive interest' where we show no resistance to the idea or the desired results, but we are unwilling to change. We then move into 'active interest' where we find value in the plan, it sounds sensible and agreeable but we don't initiate actions that would start us down the path. 'Compliance' suggests we do what is asked but don't have the energy to motivate ourselves. 'Qualified' commitment shows we are positive and focused on the plan, we willingly move forward, but we may be overwhelmed by obstacles leading to slow progress or a complete stop. We are committed, but not at a sufficient level to overcome problems and obstacles. Only Absolute commitment leads to lasting change. Want change? Then check your commitment levels first - they'll be a great indicator as to how successful you might be in developing that new behaviour.

More from Miss Dunne on tour in Asia

Hey, I thought as you had put up the blog of my match I might give you one for pre-tourney, like plane journey and dares and what not cos those are the funny bits!!
I'll try do my best with the computer cos it's a japanese one so really weird!!

So here goes....

We left Wednesday morning from heathrow airport. Before the flight we had to make sure we had enough food to last the epic 27 hour journey so we all bombarded into Eat (type of sandwich place). So all of us got a good quantity of food, bar the one, who went overboard on the stocks...of course it was Pippa Horn, who made sure she had one massive baguette, 2 packs of sandwiches, bag of crisps, banana, pot of fruit, big bar of chocolate and of course a muffin (the girl eats like a horse!!) though this wasn't enough for her as she lapped up the plane food as well! During the flight some managed to get some sleep but others (unfortunately me) couldn't manage it :/ though finally I fell asleep for 5 hours during our wait for the connecting flight!!
So finally landed in Japan at 6.30 Friday evening to the awaiting darkness (goes dark here so early!) and found our way to the hotel where I went straight to bed.

First day of practice and were all gagging to have a run about after the journey. Half an hour in and disaster strikes....Pippa (my doubles partner) fell on a ball about 8 metres behind the baseline and couldn't get up as her ankle had swollen to the size of a tennis off to the hospital she went (she managed to find herself there the last three trips!!) Myself, Fran Stephenson and Lucy Brown finished our practice and went back to the hotel for a shower where we found Pippa on crutches with a cast on her leg...bang goes my doubles partner.

The day before matches and were all pretty bored of waiting around so we go to the local park for a chill out and game of dares which starts pretty light, with dares that just make us look plain stupid but then they got a bit more intense. We dare Lucy to go and ask these two Japanese kids to use their ball while their eating their lunch....first dare complete. But then we thought we would make the stakes a bit higher with Lucy having to go across the park by herself and interrupt some adults skipping by running in and start skipping with them. Which of course she did and found it so fun she ran over and got me and we skipped with them for 10 minutes...very funny i guess you had to be there to understand it!! But safe to say we have made some japanese friends!

....And then there was match day which you already received.

Note: Katy won her first round doubles match today

Update from Katy Dunne in Japan

Everyball International Academy's Katy Dunne (15 years old, ITF 18&U world ranking of 210) lost first round today in Osaka (Grade A ITF World ranking tournament) to Japan's Rio Kitagawa (14th seed and ranked 103) 6-4, 6-4.

Katy writes: 'Looking to the future.....big lesson of the day is stick to my game and not be dragged into someone else's...respect it but then destroy it. I know that I am right there and can compete at this level even on a slightly off day; just a smidge to go and it will flow ;-) Today my opponent got away lightly though others will suffer the consequences of what I've learned today. Dragged Jane back out onto the practice court late this evening in the dark to get out and strike the ball, maintain my court position and do what I do best!'

Love the response here Katy to a tough first round loss - shows a great 'growth' mentality and clear vision of how you want to play.