Harvest time as US Open Tennis begins

The summer is rushing to an end, days are cooler, the US Open has started. Time to harvest in the garden and on the court.

Mon 21  

Woke with a coursing enthusiasm that I can do better, than I did yesterday. It is not even a consideration that I was giving away at least thirty years. The combined ages of my two opponents yesterday are still less than my 63 years. That is not the reason it did not work out.

Why didn’t it work out yesterday? Question. 

Answer. Maybe the rush of the physical challenge just got ahead of the thinking yesterday. 

Looking at the brief video clips (these are invaluable) I can see that lazy reaching thing, where my legs seem to stop short of their destination and my long reach says no worry we can help out here, we will be able to reach the ball, you legs take a little rest. And so we reach the ball, fulfilling the immediate objective. However the resulting shot is invariably something of nothing, plopped back mid court or drifting out the back. 

What to do. This leg thing. Needs to be a conscious thought going into matches to get up to the ball, then the arms can do their thing. In some ways this is reassuring as it seems like an easy fix. Instruct the feet to move and hey presto everything else will work. 

New video clips just arrived. Movement is shocking. Got caught totally off balance on a deep ball and ended up getting underneath it and floating it long. How rubbish is that. It’s a reality check and a kick up the backside!

Movement, movement, movement. 

And it all comes from that passive mindset. 

So now I know. 

Morning time

Fri 25. 6.27am. Arrive at the gym. Time has greater significance in the morning. Minutes have more meaning. What I want to know is at this time this morning, 6.27am to be precise. Why I am not the first person in the gym that does not open until 6.30am! I set off jogging with the warm feeling that I would at least be there when the doors opened. No, when I pushed the door to the gym open, a treadmill was already trundling and the familiar clank of weights reached me from further inside. I was in fact the sixth person, the others seemingly well into their workouts. 

In the gym the decision has been about what type of workout to commit to. I’ve decided that I can fit in four days of workouts. First day as recovery and stretch then three days of resistance work of which today is day two. Sensibly working at about 80% of maximum effort, maintaining rather than pushing hard. It’s probably this sub maximal effort and familiar routine that allows my mind the freedom to wander. 

For those of you who think the gym boring and monotonous, it can be, in the same way that running can be. In the same way that when running, one foot in front of the other can free the mind to go a wandering. It can be the same in the gym, not as guaranteed as running mind, but it can happen and today was one of those days. Lets go there now ………

On the positive side I prepared well for my matches this week, warming up well and being ready to go at the first point. On the front foot I play my best but inexplicably revert to a more passive game as matches progress. Or even worse start passively. My mind has been running scores back and forth trying to pick out, meaning or patterns. The problem is not hard to see, especially when backed by the reality of video. I rerun the matches again, and again as the obvious truth is not one I want to believe. Why passive? The endless loop thinking, keeps coming back to passive. Now do something about it.

There was also that nervy thing. Leading 4-3 serving in two of my matches I then lost both matches in identical ways. Drop serve for 4-4 and lose 4-6, 1-6. Where did that come from. Maybe its a factor of so few wins and a bit of lack of belief. And yes this then feeds the passive monster!


I’m in the mid space between tournaments. Making sense of this week’s competition and growing restless. Details for next week’s competition for which I need to book accommodation has not yet been published. I’m not the only one growing restless, wanting to know when to travel, where to stay and when to stay. It’s inconsiderate of players and the distances we have to travel. Or maybe there’s a glitch in the system. Who knows! 

The summer is rushing to an end, days are cooler, the US Open has started. Time to harvest in the garden and on the court.

Sat 26. Practice

Unusually playing a conditioned first set the score ends in my favour. The conditions being to mainly serve down the middle and to hit more topspin on the backhand. In the second set I allowed myself more freedom to play more as I felt. Always staying positive and moving up the court when possible. Maybe a blue print of a game that suits my skill, physicality and pleases my mental and aesthetic sensibilities is emerging. 

How did it go. What of the details? The serve down the middle remains problematic. I either collapse and the ball hits the net, or don’t reach up high enough and the ball goes long. The backhand topspin at first went long. I kept committing to it and it became pretty solid on a few occasions and went back with spin and pace. Not the finished article by any stretch, but an improvement, which is about all I should expect. 

Second serve with that bit of spin was very solid today. 

The arm issues seem less and very much helped by continuing to work out rather than rest. Conscious of the arm though I made a conscious effort to hit relaxed and try and take the muscling element away especially from my forehand and let the racket do the work. When I achieved this the result was very good producing more pace and spin as the racket moved more freely and I felt its momentum carrying my arm forwards. This is where the stroke needs to be. I think after these two hours concern about the arm is reduced, removing earlier thoughts about maybe missing next week’s tournament. 

Hopefully my concern that the change of strings brought on my arm issues is also fading as the strings feel great. Just need to get hold of some more as they remain out of stock on back order. 

Sun 27 

The competition of the past week, now a faded memory, with lingering strands of what might have been. I think they call it learning, time to take it forwards into next week. 

Practice. A conditioned first set, then a match like second set. Good. My game feels good.

Mon 28

Travel tomorrow. Competition starts on Wednesday. There is the backdrop of the US Open to tune into when time allows. It’s nice to be playing at the same time as a major. It allows flights of fantasy to feed my tennis addiction. Already on day one stories are starting to emerge. In my own little world I hope that there will be a positive narrative this week.

Motivations for the week ahead

I have lodged in my brain a story from the World Athletics Championships this past week. Josh Kerr, GB landed an unexpected gold in the 1500 metres, He said “I’ve had a chef, mental coach, early mornings and late nights” “There were no corners cut in this situation. I had to be proud of whatever I came up with because that was the best I’ve got” “Calm confidence was the key and committing when the opportunity was there”

String racket, pack kit and a positive mindset for the week ahead.

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