I have seen over the years, either through my own play or through players I have coached, many matches lost due to negative mental attitudes during the match. When I was first starting out as a junior I know I lost some matches purely due to negative thoughts. It was only after I came to realize that part of playing tennis is the mere fact you are going to lose points, games, sets and even matches- because that’s the nature of the beast- and it is okay.
We all want to win, but when winning becomes the only enjoyment of the game then it may be time to quit because you are not going to win all the time. For me, the fun of tennis is being on the court in the heat of the battle. I’ve won a lot of matches, but I have lost a bunch too and it was only after I learned that everyone misses shots did I enjoy the sport to the fullest.
Do not let a lost point or a miss on an easy ball start you down a path of negativity that will only increase your errors, because you are remembering points that are over and you can do nothing about them, rather than the points you can control-the next ones. Opponents are not blind, if you start getting angry and hanging your head you are just fuelling the opponent’s confidence and depleting your own, a simple recipe for losing quickly.
When playing in a tournament I am a firm believer in not knowing my opponent until the day of the match. I’ve seen too many players check out the draw to see they are playing a seeded player and then spend the next week before the match getting that losing feeling. Instead, spend that week focusing on your strong points building a confidence; you have an excellent chance to succeed no matter who the opponent is going to be.
There is no shame in losing to a superior player; there is no fun in losing because you have mentally beaten yourself up before or during the match. Stay positive all the time during matches, do not hurry in between points and breathe, play to your strengths and enjoy the battle of shot making and wills. If you are winning do not change and try to hurry the end, stay on an even keel. If you are losing a tight match you can play the same strategy because the difference is probably only a few more unforced errors on your part, concentrate harder on less errors. If the match is lopsided against you change your strategy to something different.
Stay positive and you’ll have more fun and win more matches.
Good Luck-Have Fun!!