SoCal League Tennis

Beyond the Score: More Good Than You Realize

Beyond the Score is a new feature you can find each Monday at www.southerncaliforniatennis.org.

By Lisa Thomas

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There is little that hits the spot more as a tennis player than a good win.  It is the success and the improvement that often drives us.  To replicate that win we might be inclined to train harder and to work more closely with our coach to improve.

Without a doubt, success on the tennis court is a worthy goal, we all love the feeling of a win or a point played out flawlessly.  But perhaps success on the court is the lesser of the worthy goals when it comes to playing tennis.  Being an athlete gives us so much more and often in ways that we don’t realize despite their value and well-deserved gain.

Tennis players with staying power have to be resilient, they are gracious in and out of the game, hard-working and strategic.  All things that will be of benefit throughout school, working careers and life in general.  Of course these things do not just magically appear.  We learn through experience and achieve them through endless hard work. They come from the countless days slogging it out on the court, making the tough decisions to give up time with friends and learning through experience how to act after a tough win and maybe more importantly how to behave when you don’t.  Professionals in large organizations look at athletes favorably because they know they come with these valuable experiences.

Let’s take a quick look at what we are actually doing as we go out there to train and play.

We can start with an unfortunate truth, as tennis players we inevitably lose.  And if we are like the majority of players we lose regularly.  The good news though is that athletes can get back out there after a loss by being resilient.  Resilience will serve us very well and it comes from starting to believe in ourselves again, putting a win or a loss into perspective and being motivated to patch the holes in our games.

As tennis players we learn very quickly to be honest and gracious.  You have to see and play against the same people; we regularly cross paths with the families and coaches of players and we quickly get reputations.  It is the kids who are polite, fair, gracious, and are good sports who win the praise of their community.  Our behavior on and off the court makes a lasting impression.

As tennis players we know that our hard work pays off.  Athletes don’t give up if they want to be better.  We spend hours on the court, hitting against a backboard, reviewing tape and doing endless sprints so we can be better on the court.  Tennis players have a discipline and a good work ethic, without a doubt a requirement for a competitive player today.

And as tennis players we learn at an early age to analyze our opponents.  We also learn to see our own strengths and to identify development needs.  And if we have any chance for success in the game we learn to strategize, we solve problems and are quick to change tact if needed.

These qualities work in our favor.

So while the goal today is to be successful players, take the time to recognize the other things you are developing; the work ethic, the sportsmanship, the discipline and the strategic thinking.  These are the lasting skills that you are developing right along with your slice backhand and the very ones that will keep you competitive in life going forward.

About the author: Lisa Thomas is a 25-year communications consultant working globally with multi national high-tech and biotech companies.  She is an avid tennis league player and mother of two high school varsity athletes.  Lisa graduated from Griffith University in Australia and is now a 20-year resident of La Jolla, California.

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