Determination… Grit… Resilience… These are the terms ascribed to mentally tough tennis players.
Many players watch other tennis players with admiration as their grit is on display… fighting back from match-point for a comeback win… pushing past near exhaustion to compete for every single point… playing through leg cramps as they hobble to return a crushing serve… racing from sideline to sideline to chase down seemingly unreturnable balls… reaching down deep to beat a top-ranked player.
That sort of grit and determination are enviable traits… But why is that? Why are these gritty players held in such high regard?
The answer is that these gritty, determined players are seen as having some super characteristic that is reserved for the few. That is, some players look at these gritty athletes and say to themselves, “I wish I was determined like that.”
In truth, true grit is built!
You can learn to develop resilience. You can increase your level of determination. When you commit to foster grit, you will find that you will persist through tough circumstances, thus achieving that athletic potential that is inside of you.
If you want to see true grit in action, look no further than 18 year-old Bianca Andreescu and her performance at the 2019 BNP Paribas Open. Andreescu entered the Open unseeded and ranked No. 178 in the World. Andreescu went on to upset three-time major champion Angelique Kerber, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 and, in the process, became the first wild-card winner in the history of the tournament.
It’s not the victory that is so impressive but the manner in which Andreescu won. After losing the second set 3-6 and falling behind 3-2 in the third, Andreescu was facing a lot of difficulty. Andreescu was playing with severe leg cramps, was visibly exhausted and was up against one of the top players in the world.
During a changeover in the third set, Andreescu called the trainer and her coach, Sylvain Bruneau, to her chair. While the trainer worked on her biceps, forearm and cramps, Andreescu had an interesting exchange with Bruneau that helped Andreescu re-focus and set the tone for the rest of the match.
Bruneau: “You’re going to need to push through it, to stay strong under adversity.”
Andreescu: “But I’m so tired.” (Andreescu took a deep breath.) “I want this so bad.”
Bruneau: “I want to hear that. Keep working her. Keep working her hard. And watch out for her down-the-line forehand.”
That’s the moment when Andreescu’s true grit surfaced.
Andreescu went for broke dictating the flow of the match and rallying from a 3-2 deficit to take four of the final five games. Andreescu may have been outmatched in terms of experience but she definitely was not outmatched mentally.
In her post-match interview, Andreescu talked about the importance of determination and how it influenced her play during critical moments in the match..
ANDREESCU: “Today was one of the toughest matches I’ve ever played. I learned how much determination I have, and that no matter what the score is, anyone can come back. Anything is possible. I think I proved that today.”
The true grit mentality is a choice you make.
Andreescu had a choice… She could focus on “I’m so tired” or “I want this so bad.” Next time you are faced with tough circumstances, what will you choose?
Tardio Tip: How to Add True Grit to your Tennis Game
Practice your prepared strategy on how you’re going to respond to tough circumstances in the match. Visualize yourself playing with true grit and determination.
Set goals for yourself and work hard in practice to grow your mental game.
Have confidence during your match in the skills that you have.
Related Article: Mindset of a Rising Champion… Ready to Up Your Game?
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