My problem in tennis has been that I am not a killer. Too nice a guy, my friends say. Not aggressive enough. I do try to be tough, but it’s artificial, not my basic personality.

Two days ago I was playing poorly and became pissed. After losing two sets by huge margins—2-6 and 0-6—with two different partners, I was furious in the next set with my third partner. I played angrily. We were ahead 5-3. Unfortunately we lost 5-7. It was a tough match to lose. I was really frustrated…near to smashing my racket. Rage. I never have those emotions.

Today I was very insecure about my game before we started. Had minimal confidence. My team lost 4-6, after a very long set. But I was playing hard and pretty well. With the same partner (for all three sets), we crushed the other guys in the next set 6-0. I really wanted that bagel. It felt good. Now the other team was ticked and stayed on serve, so it was 2-1 in their favor, and it was my turn to serve. At this point one of the opponents used a mental trick on me—he admitted later that he had used it in high school. He pointed out before I started that I had not been broken once in two sets. The only player who could claim that distinction. Then joked that he “didn’t want to put any pressure on me by pointing out this fact. Heh heh heh.”

Of course it certainly DID increase the pressure, and I lost the game. I was so annoyed/angry/upset that there was no Mr. Nice Guy left in me. I told him loudly enough for everyone to hear that what he did “was fucking shitty.” And when he smiled, I repeated it. I was ready to explode.

In retrospect, this was a welcome and unfamiliar feeling. I wanted to take him apart. Now my team was behind 1-3, and I had no intention of putting up with this stunt. We won the next five games, and my aggression, serving and net play helped make it happen. I had zero sympathy for the other team. I wanted to defeat them. It wasn’t just a game. It had become a blood sport. No feeling sorry for their frustration. No worrying if my speaking up would alienate them. And none of that turning the other cheek crap.

Still feels pretty good six hours later. Have to save some of that juice for next time.

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