Holger Rune, the talented Danish junior who is taking his first steps on the professional tour this year, says his transition to the pro tour has been a big learning curve for him. Speaking to the ITF website, Rune, who has lost in the first round of his 5 events this year, including his first ever ATP Challenger event and the qualifying of the ASB Classic ATP event, says, "It has been a big learning curve and I have had to acknowledge that even though I am a good junior player, I am now competing at a completely new level and the transition is full of challenges.
When you are at the top of a certain level, you feel more freedom to play the way to want and have an ability to take control of points. This is not the position I am in right now. I have a clear vision of the tennis I want to play but I must accept that many points are just about hanging in there.
Equally, though, I am not making any new mistakes, I’m just not getting away with them now as I might have in juniors. Changing levels is like a new world. Ever since playing international tournaments in the 12-and-under age category, I have always made sure that I was among the best before progressing, so the feelings I am experiencing now are nothing new.
There tends to be difficulties when you start playing at a higher standard. When I left the 12-and-under category for the 14-and-under age bracket, I remember thinking everyone was so good and, to begin with, I was losing often.
The same applied when I started playing ITF junior tournaments but through hard work I became the best again – winning lower grade events to begin with and then Roland Garros and the ITF Junior Finals – which earned me a shot in the professional ranks.
It’s the circle of tennis life. It’s tough and frustrating but exciting also and I love the challenge of not stopping before I am the best. I love challenges." Rune says he has been working with his mental coach as he tries to remain focused on the larger picture and learn to control his emotions.
"Recently, I have had some good meetings and talks on the phone with Lars, my mental coach. It’s hugely beneficial to talk through what’s going on inside your head at a time of change. Naturally, there are many things to deal with and it’s good not just to talk but to receive advice on handling situations and letting go of old habits.
One of the main talking points has been controlling emotions. I like emotions and they are a great driver. However, I have to suppress the emotions that distract me from playing my best tennis. It’s a balance between not killing them but having them in check.
To put this into context, I lost 3 tiebreaks in my last two matches so Lars and I have spoken about me clearing my head before and during crucial points. We have also discussed the thought process when serving for the set and what can help me in order to stick to the plan and not go for quick points.
For sure, there are certain areas in which I need to be more disciplined. Maturity is not all about age, but also about experience and taking responsibility."