I’m annoyed. Could it be the two hours sitting at the gate waiting for my plane to take off? Could it be the 50 minute drive I have once my plane touches down in New York to get to my house? Maybe it is the fact I am dead tired and have to be up early to teach 10 hours of paddle tomorrow. All of the above could annoy the calmest of people and none of it bothers me at the moment. I am annoyed because I lost. I lost in the finals of the second biggest tournament of the year in three sets to arguably the best paddle team in the nation. 95% of the teams in the draw would probably happily trade places with me and yet I’m annoyed.
“Mark – it’s just a league match”. That sentence drives me absolutely nuts and I hear it every season, funny enough usually from the same people. Maybe they are right, maybe I should relax a little and not worry about the result so much. My problem is that has never rested well with me. I want to win every point, every game, every set. If I had been half this driven in tennis I probably would have made it on the professional tour. I however found my drive in a sport that you make no money at and in fact have to pay to play, go figure.
I keep going over the third set in my mind. The high balls I fed to Chris Gambino that he made me pay for by driving a forehand at me. The angles Drew Broderick got past me that made me look silly. I think about a point here and a point there and how that could have changed the outcome of the match.
I have to wait two weeks to play in another tournament. Between now and then I will play two league matches and countless practice matches. Some of my opponents in those matches will try, some will not. It is the latter who never seem to improve. They are the ones that go through the motions and are just happy to be there.
Everyone in this sport says they want to get better. I get countless calls from guys asking me how to get better and how to improve their game. I can tell them to work on this or that but I’m starting to believe that it is the attitude that is the difference maker.
The guys who seem to succeed the most in this sport are the guys that believe they cannot lose. Their attitude when they walk on court is “I can’t believe you think you can beat me today”. These are the guys that win, that consistently win and sometimes win against improbable odds. So once again, I am annoyed. Did I walk on court this afternoon and not give it my all? Absolutely not. I gave it my all but came up short. Did I walk on court with the right attitude? That is where I am not sure. I do know that I hate the way I’m feeling right now more than anything and want to make sure I do not feel this way in the future. Do I realistically think I can win EVERY paddle match? No, but I can think that I can.