Youâ€™re playing a “big match” and it comes down to crunch time. What kind of thoughts come into your head (that will surely have some impact on how you perform)?
Last week we were playing in the sixth (and potentially deciding) week in a small 4.5 seniors doubles league. Our team (playing out of the Naples Y) was leading the Naples Bath and Tennis team three matches to two. If we won this weekâ€™s two-out-three doubles matches, we would clinch the seven-week season and qualify to go the sectionals.
Dick Valentine and I were nominated to play first doubles (although our other two teams were equally strong as us) and we were playing against two former teaching pros.
Following a great script, all three teams split the first two sets and played ten-point match tie breakers to decide the matches. The other two finished before we did, splitting one for us and one for them. So they all gathered around our court as we were 6-6 in our ten-point tiebreaker.
We missed a shot with a chance to close it out at 9-8; and I turned and just smiled. One of my teammates on the sidelines said, “Just keep on smiling, George!”
For the last year, I try to remind myself in situations like this: “This is not prostate cancer, it is just a tennis match.” And that really helps me put the pressure in perspective. While I still can (and do) miss shots, it is rarely from being tight.
I donâ€™t recommend getting prostate cancer to help your game. But I do recommend consciously thinking during big times, “This is only a tennis match. Smile and enjoy yourself.”
Force yourself to smile. You will be surprised how it can relax you and help you play better (besides, it will drive your opponent nuts).
oh by the way, we then won the next two points to win the tie break 11-9, the match, the day, and the league.