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Costa Rica Wrap Up

The Week;

1. Fly in a day or two before qualifying, get acclimatized at hotel, and at the tennis club, get in some practice.

2. Practice Spanish speaking with the locals

3. Practice, Compete, Practice, Compete. Let the chips fall where they may.

4. Take notes, do research, get to know people, network etc.

5. Go Home

A Day;

1. Wake up (approximately 5am local time)

2. Exercise, and stretch

3. Check messages

4. Eat

5. Practice

6. Play match, take notes

7. Eat

8. Practice; if you have time, or play another match.

9. Recap, Research, Check Messages. Plan

10. Eat Dinner, more admin, unwind.

11. Sleep (approximately 9pm local time)

Then for most, or many, you repeat it all over again just in another city in a another country. Or you go home and go straight back to the practice courts. Fact is the harder and longer you work the better your results are. The better your results are the more things snowball in your favour. It's a simple input = output formula. Some players/teams (because this is far from an individual sport) have more talent than others, but that evens out after a certain workload/threshold. The hardest working players/teams end up near the top of the food-chain. The ones that are the hardest working have similarities and those are;

1. An ability to not take losing personally

2. A joy in the process

3. A joy in the game, and all it has to offer

4. Even keeled, steady mindset. No panic, No stress, just another day with little thought of the consequences of each match or game.

5. Not concerned with reputation

This tends to weed out a lot of people, and this idea of 'elimination' is the key to this type of success. Its not about who is the best, its about who adapts the best to stay, to evolve under the changing circumstances. Who is able to alter their perspective, their way of thinking, and their goals, plans, and attitudes. In short, its flexibility, a love of the process and a love of learning, and a desire to improve and grow that is the most common characteristic with the best of the best.

The ones that tire of 'The Grind' are the ones that see it as a grind, they do not accept the results and adapt, they try to will and bend the circumstances to meet their expectations of how things should go, which is why it is such a grind for them, and why it wears on a person/team after a time. The inability to 'accept' things as they are causes massive stress, panic, worry and ultimately burnout. It's like racing in first gear, with the car red-lining the whole time, eventually its going to overheat and break down. It's mindset above all else that determines success in something as 'marathon-ish' as this tennis life.

There are some other interesting observations I would like to share;

1. The Players. Most if not all of the players competing in these events are 'online' students. These tournaments (and the academies where they train) are their 'athletic banquets, school dances, pep rallies, school club events, field trips.' all rolled into one. They form cliques, and they gossip. They support each other but they also undermine each other, just like in normal school. They form lasting friendships and they also form short-term friendships. They also learn a great deal about themselves, others and the world. Just in a different way than your typical school kid.

2. The Parents who accompany players, by this point in the tennis 'Marathon' have pretty much figured it out. The so-called 'PROBLEM' parents have mostly been weeded out by now, or have adapted to become 'HELPFUL' parents and are no longer a liability to the success of the player, but a huge asset. In my opinion at this stage they can and are in many cases the players most valuable asset. They are a wonderful, and unwavering support and that ONE-FORCE the player can ALWAYS count on to be in their corner. You do not see the 'caged-lion' parent at this stage anymore, or as often. Most parents have learned how to observe a match with calmness and serenity, which leads to acceptance. Fake it until you make it.

At least on the outside. I was able to hear one parent cursing under his breath, but loud enough for me to hear after every error his daughter made, but if you were 5 more feet away he would appear 'ZEN-LIKE' and he made it a point to encourage his daughter. It went something like this "F*#@ this, she is horrible, what the F@#% is going on?' followed by "Come on girl, you got this" out loud.

3. The Coaches range from guys like me who are rookies to the scene, to seasoned veterans who have been taking kids to overseas events for decades, and everywhere in between. Some are great tennis players with a playing history, while others don't even have a racket with them (or they do, but they only use it to pick up balls to pass to their players while they hit with other players, or hitting partners) The coaches that seem to do best are the ones that convey confidence, are not easily agitated, and take things in stride while being able to know when and what to say to their players before and after matches. I can see it's an art form. However, and this is speculation; it is very difficult for me to determine how effective a coach is or isn't with so many variables determining the success of a player on any given day.

I am sad to report that almost all coaches I have seen are male. I honestly just don't get it? Why are there not more females coaching females and males?

In summary; this TENNIS LIFE is not easy, but if a player/team wants it bad enough, there is always a way to climb up the standings and make it a reality. For all the excuses to why its not possible, there is a corresponding response rooted from facts and not opinion.

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