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Tennis 10sBalls Shares Speaker and Master Coach Craig Cignarelli’s Post Card From Florida WTA Event

Tennis balls are seen ahead of round one, day one at the Australian Open, Melbourne, Australia, 15 January 2018. EPA-EFE/JOE CASTRO

 

 

The WTA Ladies Tennis tour is in Colombia and Switzerland this week and I’ve decided to get a look at some challenger players in the Indian Harbour Beach Florida 60K event. The tournament takes place at the Kiwi Tennis Club about three miles from some of the most beautiful beaches. There are thirteen courts, the usual fitness room, a pro shop and a few second story viewing areas, which provide the tennis with a center stage. When you first walk into the club, the lower level viewing area stands out. Twenty or so tables rest upon a raised platform between clay courts three and four – some kind of cocktail covers most of them. Social groups gather for lunch and wait staff provides constant refills for a crowd that gets progressively louder between points. The two qualifiers on court three appear to enjoy the applause.

 

Today is the second round of qualifying. Most of these athletes are ranked somewhere between 200 and 500 in the world This means they are decent movers who clobber the ball with bad intentions and understand how to win points with their games. They are professional athletes seeking to gain entrance into the Bigger WTA events and someday, if they progress, into the tour’s major events. There is an obstruction here though. These women miss – too much. At least five times today, I’ve seen cleanly struck balls land outside the doubles alley. That is the kind of aim you see in a nightclub men’s room around 1:30 a.m. This is not to suggest these aren’t very good tennis players. It does, however, mean if they want to reach the tour level, they’re going to need more target practice. Errors are the tour’s grand differentiator.

 

I think the synergy is important here. When you have an increasingly drunk audience watching players make some incredible shots and then spill a few outside the lines, you sense the creation of a bond between crowd and competitor. “We get it,” they say. “We understand how you can have things go really well for a while and then suddenly you start making errors all over the place, and that some of them will be really bad and unexpected and you’ll go into minor rages and want to hit things harder and harder to get the anger out. Yes, we understand because we are feeling that way right now as well. For us, it’s the alcohol. For you, it’s the pressure, the adrenalin, the stakes. (the POINTS) …” Yes, we get it.” As the week progresses, it will be interesting to watch this camaraderie grow.

 

Lesson: Whether the things which excite you come from the inside of a bottle or from inside your own core, they can often have the same effect. When that head-spinning moment comes, you have the choice to step back and make a correction, or go all out and suffer the next day’s hangover.

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