Tips to surviving junior tennis
Originally published on: 21/02/13 00:00
Learn from your losses:
Losses are only really defeats if you fail to learn from them and you continue to make the same mistakes again and again. Serena Williams has taken some tough losses in the last couple of years – the 2011 US Open final, at the 2012 French Open and at both the 2012 and 2013 Australian Opens – but she admits she became a better player because of them. “Losses really motivate me,” says the American. “I really want to go home and work hard and do better. And then wins motivate me as well because I’m a perfectionist. I am always like, ‘What could I have done better? Why didn’t I do this more?’ Obviously, I think losses motivate me a little more; but due to the fact that I don’t want to lose, I always try to get motivated by wins.”
Always give 100 per cent:
They’re the words you’ll hear the most throughout juniors but if you’re successful in delivering every time you step on the court there isn’t much more you, or anyone else, can ask for. “At the end of the day it’s about the effort that you put in,” says 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer. “Maybe the parents have put in a lot of effort so that you can be at this tennis tournament. Maybe they’ve driven you across the country so that you could go to this tennis tournament. So just out of respect please try to perform.” Giving 100 per cent isn’t just about chasing down every ball. It’s about preparing the best you can – physically, tactically and mentally – and being fully focused before and during your matches.
Find a way to win:
It’s said the sign of a true champion is that they can win when they’re not playing their best tennis. Serena Williams calls those types of victories 'the sweetest'. Having a plan B – being able to dig deep, switch it up and grind out wins – is an invaluable asset at every level. “When I was young, tactical knowledge was always one of my best attributes, knowing how to win matches,” says world No.3 Andy Murray. “The US Open was a good example of that, where I didn’t play my best throughout the tournament, but I played smart tennis. Even when it was really tough, I found ways to win when I wasn’t playing well.”
It’s often a forgotten facet of competitive sport but having fun really is the key to surviving junior tennis and lengthening your playing days into senior competitions. If you’re enjoying your tennis and you continue to take pleasure in striving for goals then you’ll be much more successful on the court. As Federer once told us, “I think kids need to be kids. I don’t want to see a 12-year-old acting like a 25-year-old.” So get out there and enjoy yourself. And remember, it’s only a game….
… To read the rest of Surviving Junior Tennis then get your hands on the January 2013 issue of tennishead magazine. In the next issue, out March 7th, we talk to former junior world No.1 Richard Gasquet about coping with the pressures of junior tennis.