It’s Only A Game

jayThe picture is of my five year old grandson after he lost vs. his nine year old brother. But does “really wanting to win” contribute to a player’s ability to win?

Many of the top pros really show their displeasure when they miss a shot, lose a game, or after the match. Check out the two pictures from the classic djoWimbledon final here: one is of Djokovic after he lost that incredible second set tie breaker (not converting SIX SET POINTS) and the other is after The Fed lost the third set. Does Djokovic’s emotion help him win that and other matches and does Roger’s coolness lessen his chances?

I think people are different. When I miss a simple shot, I will frequently have quick yell at myself; but after those five seconds, I calm right back down and play the next point.fed3

But some of my buddies carry the frustration into the next few points and games, in my opinion, negatively impacting their game. Possibly putting aside tournament matches, I truly would rather play well, have a good time and LOSE… than play poorly, overly emotionally and win.

I frequently tell myself the same thing I said to my grandson, “It’s only a game.”

What do you think?

Larry Turville Loses 14 Times

And speaking about “losing,” outstanding senior Larry Turville lost just a TOTAL of 14 games in five matches (ten sets) to cruise to the 65 singles Gold Ball in New Orleans.

The O-Man Wins Silver

Remember the story of Winder Bill, who was not allowed to have oxygen on the court to ease his degenerative lung disease? He got USTA permission and also competed in the National 65 doubles with Michael Barnes as his solid partner.

After beating my Naples’ friends Bob Wilkie and George Dalphon in the quarters, here is Winder’s own account of how his semi-final match went vs. the #1 seeds of Brian Cheney and Armistead Neely:

My partner tore his calf changing direction for what turned out to be an out ball that made the score 6-7, 4-5, 15-40 Cheney serving. (Two match points for Bill/Barnes). Mike could barely stand up – he returned the 15-40 serve crosscourt and I poached the volley over the middle and hit a solid power volley perfect down the middle but Cheney moved to it and reflexed a winner behind me. Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

“On next serve at 30-40 (if we do not win that point we are going to lose), the serve played me and I hit a weak shot back, guessed correctly to get my racquet on a potential winner and hit weak lob, guessed right and stabbed a ball crosscourt with my back hand that went 4 feet over the net in to the ad court with no pace, sat up (with a little awkward spin), and I ran to my open short cross court alley as Brian was hitting. He went that direction (maybe he saw me move) and his shot did not clear the net. His missing that shot was the difference in me having another 4th place and winning a silver ball, my best result in 20 years of playing nationals.

“Ah, the fates! Finals were very anticlimactic – Les Buck and Bob Litwin would have been very tough to compete against with Mike Barnes being healthy. We should not have played but at least he did not seem to hurt it more. The onsite therapist wrapped it real well and we tried. (and lost 0 and 1).”

Congrats to all who played. For the link to the tournament results, click HERE.

If you are not on my “new posting alert email list” and want to be (I promise, no other uses of your email address!), just drop me a note at

My Book: and if you’d like to get a copy of “Senior Tennis”, just click on the link on the upper right of this web page.

4 thoughts on “It’s Only A Game

  1. At a certain point really wanting to win does not mean one will win; many other factors, including one’s opponent and his ability, control that. But really not wanting to lose can often prolong matches or even force an opponent to get frustrated or give up, and THAT can contribute to winning.

    Marty – who wrote this short and pithy piece, your twin brother?! thanks, i agree. george

  2. Very thoughtful, George. Agree it’s best to determine best way to rapidly find inner tranquility. My extensive studies of even temperamental folks like Connors and McEnroe has shown me how they were able to do this too.

    As far as that incredible doubles story goes — what an effort — I think that once Bill-Barnes they would not be able to compete in the next match they should have retired upon reaching match point. Much more fair to all rather than giving a meager effort in the finals. BTW, this was precisely what happened two straight years in the season-ending men’s Masters tournament: Gorman ’72 in semis vs. Smith, Newcombe the next year. Per Emmo, if you’re hurt, don’t play.

    Joel – Default and give up a Silver Ball in trade for “nice try, finish fourth”? that is a big ask. And the second half of the Aussie philosophy, “And, if you are playing, you are not hurt.” thanks, george

  3. I get upset with myself, but I talk to myself to stay “in the now” . One point at a time..
    When we think about winning or losing we are in “the future” ….I play my best when I can control my “just now” focus.
    And in the end…. Isn’t that the magic of amazing tennis ? To be totally lost in the moment and all else goes quiet….pure enjoyment 🙂

    My 2 yen.

  4. Took a look at Larry’s results over the past year in singles. Couldn’t find a lost *set*. Went out and practiced my slice backhand before the rain today in his honor. 🙂

    Can’t play the next round in the back draw and get to match point? Fine time to default. Match point in the main draw and a chance to win yer first ball?? Are you out of yer *mind*??!! 🙂 (Sorry, Joel :-))


Comments are closed.