Finding Peace On The Court
At the beginning of 9th grade, I had trouble winning matches, but it was never due to the physical side of the sport but rather the mental side.
I'm from North Richland Hills, Texas, and I began playing tennis in 6th grade after my mom encouraged me to try out the sport when I got to middle school. When I first picked up the sport, I went through a phase of loving every second I spent on the court. I loved figuring out the different techniques and learning the ins and outs of the singles strategy. Then, when I turned 13, I started to take the sport seriously with aspirations to play at a collegiate level.
In 8th grade, I started to train 4-5 hours a day, constantly looking for opportunities to be on the court and learn. Unfortunately, I was taking the sport too seriously to even find enjoyment in it at this point. The only thought going through my head was, "you need to train to get better, so play more."
I think the physicality of tennis came naturally to me, but mentally I always had trouble staying focused. At the beginning of 9th grade, I had trouble winning matches, but it was never due to the physical side of the sport but rather the mental side. I always struggled with staying focused while playing matches and would consistently "try too hard," which resulted in me making unforced error after unforced error. Over time I started to treat tennis like a job and struggled to stay relaxed when playing matches. I've always had anger issues and fought with confidence in myself, but it was starting to seep into my tennis.
In the beginning of 9th I was doubting myself, not sure if I should be playing this sport, worrying if I would make the team. But I feel the person that's helped me the most with my mental game has been my father, after being stagnant for those long months we went to see a hypnotist, and he gave me ways of improving my mindset and I immediately started improving. After every match my dad would sit me down and we'd go over everything. I sometimes still have these moments where I feel lost, but talking to him about it always seems to help me. I've tried to focus on being more positive In everything I do, writing down every match, trying to make sure I write down more positives than negatives, and doing the techniques from the hypnosis. I've realized, from playing that you should only measure your success from within and comparing yourself to others won't get you anywhere.
Since I've started, I've made many friends, and I think many of them have made a significant impact on me and have helped me get through everything. But sometimes, when I'm on my team, I feel alone; I've never been the most sociable person and often have anxiety talking to people, which sometimes correlates to my tennis. Tennis has given me a drive in my life, and without it, I'm not sure of what else to do. It's given me competition not only against other people but within myself, and I guess I like trying to find that inner strength from within if I'm down against someone. I've learned to be happier and more accepting of myself, and I'm glad to have been given this opportunity in life.