The Mental Part of My Game
I have come to believe a positive attitude is one of the most important things in my tennis game. Learning to be positive during intense competition has been very difficult, but has helped me become the highly ranked tennis player I am today.
Several years ago, when I started competing in U.S.T.A junior tennis, I struggled with the mental part of the game. In the summer of 2006, I was playing a highly ranked girl from California at the Super Nationals Tournament in Georgia. Even before the match started, I was intimidated by the way she looked and acted. Negative feelings were entering my mind as we walked onto the court. Things started off well, making my first serve, moving my feet, and winning the first set, but then my negativity caught up with me. There was no way I was going to beat this girl, even though I was winning and up a set. She ended up beating me in three sets, and I did not win one game in the last two sets. Instead of having a positive attitude after the first set, and thinking “I can beat this girl”, my mind was overcome by negative thoughts, which adversely affected my level of play.
Now I go into every match with a positive outlook that I can beat my opponent. I play one point at a time and don’t worry about the last point or the next point. I recently played a national tournament in Wisconsin, where I was matched against a highly seeded older player. I looked at this match as an opportunity to win instead of an unlucky draw. During the first set, my opponent played unbelievably well, while ripping winners every point, allowing her to win the set easily. Although the old Tina would have given up, the new Tina kept a positive mental frame of mind and kept fighting. In time, the momentum changed and suddenly I was the one hitting the amazing shots, winning the second set. It came to a third set 10-point tiebreaker, where things started off bad. I was missing my best shots and my feet were not moving as well as I would have liked. Before I knew it, I was down 1-4, but I didn’t give up, and my positive attitude allowed me to play to my potential and win the tiebreaker 10-7.
I believe my mental frame of mind during a tennis match dictates the way I play. If I maintain a positive outlook, I play my best tennis. Conversely, a negative attitude during match play leads to more errors, and ultimately losses. I believe a positive attitude in life in general will bring success.
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