The absurdity of it!

I did something this week on impulse - sold my 'sensible' car (Skoda Octavia!) and went for something completely absurd and impractical - a huge 4X4 Mitsubishi Warrior truck. Could quite easily be mistaken for a tank, possibly even one of those 'Hummers'. Nothing flash mind you - 6 years old with 70K on the clock, 0-40 in about 30 seconds, and I'm praying now for the snow to come back. But you know what, it was fun doing it, its fun to look at sitting there taking up my whole driveway, and behind the wheel, well it's that liberating, back to the open roads (even if we're in middle class Berkhamsted) Bruce Springsteen 'Born to run' kind of feeling.

Anyway, got me thinking about tennis. Tennis being a game. Tennis being fun. Those of us who are wrapped up in the 'performance' world, in the 'professionalism' of it all, lose sight of this very quickly and it can all start to weigh a bit heavy. So my 'Warrior' has come to represent that fun side of things - let's not take ourselves and our sport too seriously hey. The work has got to be done, results will get posted, and tennis will go on with or without us, so if you find yourself in a Skoda Octavia, step out for a bit and learn to enjoy the ride. It's only a game and you may find this way you play it better anyway.

Fear of losing

Pete Sampras wrote in his autobiography that fear of losing is a terrible thing. Nelson Mandela has also been quoted with similar views paraphrased below:

'Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond our measure. It is our light not our darkness that frightens us. Playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. And as we let our own light shine, we consciously give other people permission to do the same. As we our liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.'

Yes, fear of failure, fear of losing, is a terrible thing. Best effort is all we can give and when the race is done we can hold our heads up high and say, 'I gave it my all'. Was it Abraham Lincoln that put it this way?: 'Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor souls who live in the gray twilight that knows not victory or defeat'

No nonsense response

A few years ago we had 'Play the game, no excuses!' printed onto our Academy T shirts.  Why?  Because if you step out onto that match court, you do so by choice - you know what you're getting yourself into and what the potential consequences are if you don't perform to your own expectations.  I doubt Nadal performed as he wanted to yesterday against Federer, but just look at his response: 'What I'm going to say and what I feel is I lost the match because I played against a very good Roger Federer on one of his favourite surfaces, and when he's playing like this it's very difficult to stop him.'  That's a quality no nonsense response from a great Champion.  Nil excuse, just got beat by a better player on the day.

Adult and Child Tournament in the snow!

50 players braved the snow and ice to play in the ever-popular Adult & Child Tournament at Halton on Saturday afternoon. Thanks to Halton's 6 indoor courts the weather didn't affect play – pairs were put into boxes according to the ages of the children – from Mini Red/Orange for the Under 9's, Green-ball matches for the Under 10's and yellow-ball matches for the older juniors. The format was 10-minute timed matches which added an extra edge to everyone's play. In the Red/Orange group brothers Ethan and Will Rose came out on top – Ethan and his dad Craig were runners-up to older brother Will and his partner Paul Henry. In the Green group father and daughter Mark and Anna Hosking won 4 out of 5 matches but were beaten by father and son Gary and James Fuller who were very consistent and won all their matches. In the yellow-ball group competition there were two groups and after the round-robin matches the 2 semi-finals were contested between Peter and Annabel Westermann who beat Sean Strong and Bridget Andreas and Rob and Thomas Pain who beat Olivia Ray and Andy Maclean. In the Final, the format was a match tie break and was extremely close with some excellent rallies, but Rob and Thomas emerged as the winners.

Everyball International Academy is a holding a free Mini Tennis Fun Taster Session this Saturday from 12 noon to 1.30pm for children aged 4-6 years old. To book just email Mike at or ring 07958 008312.

Tor Pisani wins Grade 3 event

Everyball player Victoria Pisani today won the Powder Byrne 16&U Grade 3 Event at the LTA National Tennis Centre in Roehampton. Tor beat Isabella Brown 6-2, 6-3 joining Roger Federer today on the winner's podium!! Great job Tor.

The deciding shot

In a Telegraph article on 22nd November entitled 'From Basel ball boy to king of the court' Roger Federer says, 'This is where you have to be particularly strong, when things are not going your way. Knowing when to hit the deciding shot is also a talent that you need to discover within your game. I think that is one of the true talents I have.' On two levels I think this is a particularly meaningful quote.

First of all, the idea of being strong when things aren't going your way. It's easy to maintain good routines, body language, self talk, attentional control etc, etc when things are going well. The true test of your ability in these areas, and of your character is how you respond when the chips are down, when the tide is against you.

And second, the notion of when to hit the deciding shot. Especially at junior level, there tends to be an attitude the 'every shot must be special'. Not so, just watch the next two days of competition at the O2. In nearly every point there will be a pivotal shot, the shot that puts one player in the ascendency, but for much of the time there will be a sparring and jostling between players to earn this opportunity. Check it out and see what you think.

'Yea, I know'

Ever try and help your kids/students in a particular area of their life or game and all you get back is a 'yea, I know'? Knowing takes on a particular meaning here because what they are really saying is, 'Yes I'm aware of that I but I'm not actually prepared to do anything about it!'. In this context, knowing is doing!

On a similar note is that of 'absolutes' - my two boys will often say, 'Daddy, you always say that....', 'Daddy, you never let me.....' My response to them is, 'always?', 'never?'. I heard it today several times on court during training. 'I never make that shot', 'I always double fault under pressure'. 'Never?', 'Always?'. As in Stop, Challenge, Choose (see blog of last week), it's really important to challenge irrational thinking and seek some objective reality!