I’m checking in this week from my AirBNB in Auburn, AL with some great news! I picked up my first ITF title in three years (!!) last week at LSU with a string of really solid wins against fellow Americans. My path to the title was anything but easy, so I’m really happy with the way that I problem-solved, competed, and played my game throughout. I learned a lot about myself by challenging myself to handle pressure and nerves with grace throughout the week. In moments of frustration, I simply reminded myself that my goals were long-term ones, and that results in a given week would not dictate whether or not I would ultimately achieve them. Ironically, this allowed me to play well under pressure, and to win.
Off the court, I’ve been doing a bit of a deep dive into myself to discover how I can be a happier person. Through extensive reading (I’ve included a reading list at the end of the post), I’ve determined that in order to perform optimally, you have to know that you will be not only okay, but actually happy, regardless of result. By improving my understanding of myself, and knowing that a loss wouldn’t be disastrous, I felt I was able to compete at peace. When a let cord for my opponent came at a difficult time, I found myself saying, “well, what can you do, the universe is challenging you today” instead of “why me, this is so unfair.”
Subtle changes in how you approach matches mentally can seriously be everything. What all players on tour know is that everyone is a good tennis player by the time you reach the professional ranks. What separates the top from the mediocre is their ability to handle the mental rigors of life on tour: the pressure, the fear of losing, the isolation of travel - all seem unable to penetrate the focus of the best players in the world. In my effort to access a less emotionally variable version of myself, I’ve doubled down on meditation and reading, thus giving my off court life focus and purpose that makes it extra fulfilling on the road. Hopefully, by continuing my journey to find a more present, happier self off the court, I will be able to continue my good form. But then, it won’t really matter, win or lose, will it?
10 Percent Happier by Dan Harris
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
Never Broken by Jewel
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
About My Tennis Life Series:
In February of 2017, Tennis Channel launched its first multi-platform content series My Tennis Life featuring two professional tennis players, Nicole Gibbs (USA) and Sam Groth (Australia), as they traverse the globe in search of valuable ATP and WTA points. The series gives you a behind-the-scenes look of the professional tour. Tennis fans across the globe will witness Sam and Nicole’s efforts to break through respectively on the ATP and WTA Tours, and the challenges they face while trying to improve their game and career earnings.