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A quick straw poll asking tennis players of all ages, abilities, and skill levels why they play the game and an answer that regularly appears is “I love tennis”. A look across the courts at any tennis centre during the week where these seem players ply their trade, and you begin to ask yourself: “where is the love?”.

Love is a word you need to embrace to fulfill your potential as a tennis player. To become the player you want to be you will have to love practicing, love improving, love competing, love fitness, love travelling and have a genuine love for the game. A lack of love in any of these areas and it makes the road to success very difficult.

The first step on our journey of becoming tennis players is practice! If the adage of having to spend 10 years or 10, 000 hours working on a skill to become an expert is true than you are going to have to love practicing. You must embrace the daily grind, the hot, the cold, the wind, and the days when you just don’t feel like being out on the court.

The hours you spend practicing will undoubtedly see your game improve. At first the improvement will be significant, and this usually fuels a desire for even more improvement. The love of improving will be even more critical as you get better as the gains won’t be as significant so you will have to love the one percent gains and the fact that changes you make today may seem difficult but will lead to improvement down the track.

To produce your best on the court you will need to be physically fit so you will need to love the fitness side of tennis. You will be spending hours in the gym, on the running track and on the court so the earlier you embrace this rather than seeing it as a necessary evil the more enjoyable the sessions will become.

Once you have your technique ingrained, your tactics planned and your fitness intact you will need to love competing. In a one-on-one sport there is nowhere to hide and no team mates to rely on so you will have to love the gladiatorial nature of the game. Fighting for every point like it is a match point and loving the contest is instrumental in becoming an excellent tennis player.

Becoming an elite tennis player also means travelling, lots of travelling. You need to find a way to love this side of the game otherwise you can find it affecting your desire to play and practice which in turn can lead to you not wanting to compete at all. When in a new place some players will take photos, walk around the city, embrace the food, or visit the local hotspots. This is a much better option then sitting in your hotel room lamenting what you have left at home.

Ultimately, I like to think most of us who are involved in the game of tennis at any capacity continue their involvement for the love of the game. When I watch juniors, mid-week ladies or tournament players get angry, frustrated, or nervous I hope they remember why they are playing in the first place.

It is quite ironic that in tennis love means nothing, when in fact love is everything.


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