My son went into this past weekend’s tournament on a 7-match losing streak. He had been “rounded” in singles in the past two tourneys plus had lost his final high school match of the season in the semis of the state playoffs, and his confidence was lower than I had seen it in a long time.
This tournament was a state level 3 tournament, located about a half hour from our house, meaning that it really wasn’t going to draw the top top players, but it was a good opportunity for my kid to play up in the 18s, build some confidence, and get more of a jump-start on his 18s ranking. The draw was only 16 players, so, at most, he was going to play 4 matches (or 5 if he moved into the back draw) over the two days.
When the draws were posted on Friday, it turned out that my son was playing a boy he had played on 3 prior occasions – my son was 1 and 2 against him, his one win coming in their last meeting in the Fall. Given my son’s lagging confidence – plus another mom’s helpful (NOT!) statement that this other boy had recently switched academies and was playing really well – I have to admit that I wasn’t feeling too good about my son’s chances. I chose to sit well away from the match court – close enough to see clearly but not close enough to hear any negative mutterings that might come out of my kid’s mouth. My son ended up playing a really strong match, beating the other boy 6-1, 6-1, putting a solid end to the losing streak. Whew!
Next up was the top seed in the tourney, an 18-year-old who is heading to play tennis at LSU (a big D1 program) in the Fall. My son was incredibly excited to have the opportunity to play this kid just to see how his game would stack up. He didn’t necessarily have high hopes of winning the match though he did go into it feeling strong and ready to do battle. Turns out my son held his own out there, forcing the other player into several errors at the net as well as on his serve. My son lost the match 6-4, 6-2, but the other boy came off the court and proceeded to tell my husband and me how impressed he was with our son’s game – just what every tennis parent loves to hear!
And, even though he lost that second match, it turned out to be a real confidence booster for him. He had pushed a college-bound guy – one who probably had at least 50 pounds and 4 inches on him – to play outside his comfort zone. He had broken the guy’s massive serve twice. He had kept the guy guessing and forced him to go for better shots than he would normally have done.
Really, that was the goal of the weekend . . . to overcome the bad juju, to play some quality tennis, and to prove to himself that he belonged out there with the Big Boys. Mission accomplished.