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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

REFLECTIONS: Why Recreational players are NOT the Pros

We have got to start being realistic about our tennis games. We, the recreational tennis player, are not anywhere near the pro ranks. That is not to say that, on occasion, we do not hit a shot worthy of a professional player. Yes, it does happen and it always feels great. But how do we back it up? And from what level of opponent did we hit this wonderful shot? And can we repeat this incredible placement over and over again? 

I can watch Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic's forehand on video analysis until I turn grey and still never come close to owning such a weapon. Now I'm a huge proponent of watching the pros in order to learn more about our own games, and I have learned volumes over three decades of observation. But let's get REAL! These are highly trained, incredibly fit, and financially motivated individuals who chose tennis as a career. They don't need to sandwich their forays to the court between their 9-5 jobs, dropping the kids at soccer practice, mowing the lawn, or balancing their checkbook. 

Last night I watched an incredible match in the round of 16 at the U.S. Open between Joe-Wilfried Tsonga of France and Mardy Fish of the U.S. It began in the day session, and went on into the night with a score of 6-4, 6-7 (5), 3-6, 6-4, 6-2. Tsonga took the 3 hour, 45 minute match amongst swirling winds and an understandably pro-Fish (U.S) crowd.

These players both showed incredible will, stamina, flexibility, and shot-making ability to the delight of the audience who kept the night-session crowd at bay while enjoying their view of this battle between two outstanding titans in today's tennis. But we are NOT them.  We can only dedicate limited time, effort, finances, and willpower to what most do on a recreational level. 

Swinging the racquet at a ball successfully, or hitting with a certain spin with confidence, requires a lot more than seeing how the pros hit tennis balls. The foundation required of today's professional players is well beyond the reach of most of us. That does not mean we cannot learn from watching. It simply means that all must be tasted and digested within the realm of our own reality as an individual. 

But I for one am so glad that the pros can show us the possibilities from the best-of-the-best. It is very entertaining and instructive indeed, and the lessons learned from all-court-players such as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Mardy Fish can only assist in the goal of being the best players WE can be!

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