So, where do you get your balls?
We hear it all the time. Tennis is so much a mental game. The fact is, you can lose a match before you even step on to the court. You can lose it obsessing about it all week. Or if you’re like me, you can just plain lose it.
The truth of the matter is, the sport takes balls.
Literally, and metaphorically. The balls I’m referring to here are focus and courage and faith—hey, I like three balls. Playing tennis is about conducting a juggling act in your mind, and those three have to be kept in the air, spinning nicely throughout every point.
Focus is the mental strength to keep to your fundamentals: eye on the ball and eye on the contact. Breathe at the hit. Finish the stroke. Shadow the ball and move your feet.
Courage is the absence of fear. So they’re ranked higher than you—so what? So they hit hard—so what? It’s still about you and the way you hit. It’s still about the balls. The one that you’re tracking on the court and sending off with a well-chosen hit to places where the opponent is not. And the ones that are in your mind. Be brave. Take risks. Don’t just give the ball back, put it somewhere else. Step out of your comfort zone and surprise yourself by going to the net. You may just surprise your opponent.
Faith is the ball of belief. Do you believe you can beat a higher ranked player? Have lower ranked players beat higher ranked players in the pro circuit? Of course, they have. So can you. But you have to believe it, to make it happen.
Those women put on their panties one leg at a time, just the way you do. Those women can make mistakes, just like you do. And like you do, they have balls they don’t like—if you can figure that out…you’re halfway to a win a right there. Fill yourself with fight, will, and the determination to battle it out, so even when they’re leading, you’re right at their tail—because a match is only won by a point—except in a deuce or tie-break and then it’s won by just two. You want to tail-gate them through it all, and sometimes, that’s easier than them tail-gating to you.
When you’ve just handed them the game without a fight? That’s not about the balls you’re hitting. That’s about the balls you’re juggling in your mind.
Now, where do you get your balls?
A good night’s sleep helps. Being hydrated and properly fuelled. Feeling at the top of my game. Feeling energetic. Having a good warm-up where I served well, volleyed and done a few overhead smashes at an angle. Feeling comfortable in my outfit. Feeling comfortable with my partner—that is, feeling that she and I can communicate honestly and supportively.
I also like to picture a crowd in the gallery, a TV camera, announcers and a Hawkeye. Hell, what are imaginations for?
And then, there are the balls you hit.
I like to serve. I like to place serve. When I’m down, I like to take deep breaths and say softly, “Eye on the ball, eye on the contact”. I also like to slow things down when serving by throwing up a fake “bad” toss. A toss that isn’t bad, I just didn’t want to hit it yet. And then I like to play. Because nothing in the world feels as good as playing, even when I’m tired and I’m down two games. Everyone is different. Everyone gets their balls in particular, specific ways.
And I like to actually hold all the balls. Yes, all three. If the point goes well—that is, my way—I like to get that ball back, even if I have the other two in my skirt, left side.
I’ve seen a lot of women lose their balls—mentally. They lose focus and suddenly can’t serve. Or they lose their temper and focus on a bad call, rather than the on-going game. Maybe they let themselves get a little confrontational with their opponents. They forget that tennis is so rarely about the opponent. It’s about that damn ball and where you are sending it, and where you are hitting it, and how you are spinning it. Not the other women at all.
But yes, I like to hold all three. Most women like to hold only two balls at a time, and they count on their partner to hold the third ball. I’ve seen a woman put the extra ball in a little plastic belt thingamabob she wears around her waist. I’ve seen another stuff them into her waist bank in the back so she has a little camel bump on her ass. And then there are the chicks who stuff the extra ball into their bra — oh ladies, please don’t. I sometimes suspect they do this as way to put their opponent off, more than anything else. Why it doesn’t put off their partner is my question.
Consider that tennis is about holding your balls, hitting them the way you plan to, and not losing them—mentally and figuratively. That’s just another way to think about the game.
Where do you get your balls?
Other TQOTC.com articles by Noelle Q. De Jesus:
My Fashion Faults And Mishits The Court