TALENT, PREDESTINATION and SOME POINTS OF THEOLOGICAL REFLECTION



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TALENT, PREDESTINATION and SOME POINTS OF THEOLOGICAL REFLECTION

I often hear these phrases echoing from the side-lines of tennis courts where youths train: “When there is talent, everything is there..”. , “whoever has the talent sooner or later arrives..”. , “talent either you have it or you don't…,”; statements that are axioms: evident principles that must not even be demonstrated, let alone be able to contradict them.

In common feeling, talent is something innate, it is the sign of holiness, and the sign of predestination. The one who is predestined may not even bother to train because his destiny is already engraved in the stars and indeed, constant and intense training could make one doubt his innate talents...

so, parents often want to emphasize how their son or daughter can be very good even though they never played tennis and the tennis skill was found only by chance one day when the child held a racquet in hand. Talent thus defined appears similar to the eschatological concept of "predestination" of Reformed Catholics...

We, however, who are imbued with the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church prefer to conceive talent as a simple attitude, which must, however, be developed with serious and early training, thus allowing the body and head to memorize the motor patterns, and through which the physique can develop its potential and the mind can amplify its strategic qualities.

In fact, although the importance of an attitude in sport is undeniable, we must not forget how this attitude is influenced and increased by our motor experiences, especially among the younger ones. The strongest athletes who dominate today's tennis, both in the male and female categories, have almost all started playing tennis between the ages of three and six.

Soccer star Diego Maradona who is also considered as the “pure talent” par excellence not created by “ordinary” training, developed his “natural” skills by playing relentlessly since he was a child on the fields and muddy streets of Villa Fiorito in Buenos Aires.

Having said this, it must be said that tennis really requires multiple talents, perhaps more than any other sport. Thinking of talent in tennis, in fact, we often refer only to the coordination capacity that must exist between hand and eye, the talent described by John McEnroe in his autobiography, but such talent, if isolated, would be very little.

A modern tennis player (especially with the current speed of play) must, in fact, first of all be supported by physical talent. A player who does not correctly get to the ball simply cannot play tennis: he must have intelligence, that is, the ability to “know how to read between”, adapting his strategy to the game that develops in each match; he must have the ability to concentrate, because games, as the statistics teach, are often won or lost by a few points’ difference; a player must have heart, know how to grit his teeth and try to overcome all endogenous and exogenous obstacles.

However, none of these talents appears sufficient, if not supported by the most important one: the constant desire to want to improve by training hard. Gunter Bresnik, the former coach of Thomas Muster and Dominic Thiem, has always maintained that the greatest talent that tennis players must have is that of the desire to train.

Personally, I have seen many younger boys and girls kindle the enthusiasm of the masters: managing to do in a natural way, either with touch strokes with extreme precision and sensitivity or by making the arm go extremely smoothly...

with expressions of jubilation such as: “Oh a this the ball flows…!”… disappointing, however, their happy beginnings is, because they lack the desire to train with the right humility and seriousness.

Talent can therefore be easily wasted, without the right aptitude for work. To truly understand talent, one must turn one's mind to Matthew's Gospel parable and remember that true talent should not be buried, but multiplied by “investing” it with training...

Talent, therefore, atrophies without the right perseverance, while even those who are not kissed by the Gods of tennis can build a more than dignified career with work and intelligence. There are many examples of such players, some of whom are from Italy, as well.

Roger Federer himself, who is considered the icon of talent in tennis, does not win games by wearing slippers during the week. Federer is forced to train himself every day, repeating all the technical gestures of tennis even the most trivial, taking care of his physical preparation meticulously (especially in the Dubai swing), having the intelligence to evolve his game according to his age, even having to keep up-to-date on new racquet technologies to be competitive (the transition to a larger plate has undoubtedly helped him...) Once all the characteristics examined have been taken for granted, our “future champion” must have been born in a family that can be the patron of his talent, as Julius II was for Michelangelo and Raphael, “Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam”.

In general, the duty of parents is to take care to understand the attitudes and passions of the child, having to know how to direct them even when they are very young. Unfortunately, tennis is a sport that involves enormous sacrifices not only to those who play it, but to the whole family, who must therefore have a real dedication to tennis, and must become inevitably absorbed by the agonising activity of the child, the time and economic resources. This is why not all families will be able and will be willing to see the bud of a talent blossom...