From the moment we first set eyes on our opponent, we begin to immediately get an idea of who he is and how he will play. Appearance is not everything, and can often be misleading, but in sports, every small piece of information can be valuable and, indeed critical. Visual information is therefore one of the most pertinent in sizing up your opponent before and during a match.
The handshake, coin toss and the warm-up are just some of the phases you go through before you even hit your first shot. These apparently routine actions can tell you a lot about your opponent. There is a sort of silent monologue that all tennis players recite, revealing fears and certainties that occupy their minds in the tense moments before a match. It is during this time that they reveal their personality to us. Someone’s personality, of course, is a set of psychological characteristics and behavioral modalities that define the core of individual differences.
You can use this information to your advantage throughout the match. Indeed, you must be ruthless in your exploitation of any informational advantage. A tennis court is like a boxing ring, and you must have the spirit of Muhammad Ali in you if you are to succeed. Walk briskly during the change of ends, reaching the net first even if you are losing. Hit your second serve with authority even on break point.
At the end of the match, you will win or you will lose. But no matter what the outcome, you must conduct yourself like a champion.
Muhammad Ali touched countless lives with his unwavering spirit. He was not only a monumental athlete, but also a humanitarian and a global citizen. The legend of Muhammad Ali goes beyond the boxing ring to the tennis court and beyond.
by Francesca Amidei
“We're in hell right now, gentlemen. Believe me. And, we can stay here... or we can fight our way back into the light.”
This is part of Al Pacino’s famous speech from the film Any Given Sunday. When the speech is given, he is trying to motivate his team during a very difficult time, and reminds them that in life, you will win some and you will lose some, but the most important thing is to fight as hard as you possibly can every inch of the way.
In tennis, there is a one-on-one dimension to the contest, as in boxing. There is no physical contact, but a deep and perpetual study of the opponent during the various stages of the match. You have to try to understand when it is time to defend and when it is time for all-out attack. You have to keep your own motivation going, constantly study your opponent, deal with distractions on and off the court, focus on your own game plan and so much else.
On that rectangle, that 23.77m×10.97m arena, we are alone. On the court, as in life, we have the choice to fight hard for each and every point or simply phone it in when times get tough. Staying positive and not getting down on yourself when you play a bad shot, or a bad set, can be an enormous challenge.
During each match there are two wars raging on the court, one between you and your opponent, and one with yourself. If you can win the latter, you can win the former as well.
If you can fight and fight and keep fighting no matter what the score or circumstances, you have a real chance to fulfil your true potential.
One day, when you look back at all the matches you have played, you will not be filled with regret at how you played, but calm and content because you always fought as hard as you possibly could.