The Long Journey that is tennis
Sunday was the last day of the season for the ATP tour. The match was between Andy Murray & Novak Djokovic, and decided the year-end world number 1. It was the first time in history that the final of the ATP World Tour Finals decided this. Murray played some of his best tennis of the year to take the victory and the number 1 ranking. It took Andy Murray 11 years as a professional tennis player to achieve this ranking. Many of his coaches and the people supporting him have been there from the start. This sport certainly takes commitment and patience.
I often speak with parents about their child's progress through this sport. I always make it a point to emphasize to parents (and my players) how long the journey is from Red Ball to, for example, the ATP finals. It's too easy to fixate on the present moment--how many serves did she hit in, whom is he hitting with today, when does she move to the Green Ball class? I always assess players with an eye on the beginning and the end: how/when/where did the child start tennis, and where is he or she headed on this journey. The ending, of course, is speculative, but it does shape the pathway. And it is the pathway that matters. The pathway is that long journey. There will be lots of bumps and turns along the way, with lulls and rapid accelerations. It's a long road, so you need to "pan out" to see the whole thing.
If there is one piece of advice I would give parents, it is: Be very choosy in selecting your coach (or coaches), and then trust your coach. Try out different coaches and programs, and find the right fit. Find a coach that is genuinely interested in your child's progression as a player and a sportsperson. This trust, to be sure, is not a blank check and does not mean turning a blind eye to short-term progress. But, if you believe in the coach, the program, and the vision, the consistent message, presence, and focus will help in achieving those longer-term goals and outcomes.
This weekend's ATP Finals showed how healthy tennis is, as a sport. IJP Tennis is also doing quite well. Week by week, our program is growing. We have new players streaming in, and new classes launching each week. I know this is the start, but we are off to a flying start!
I wish everyone a happy and safe Thanksgiving.
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Matt's Point (get it? Match Point!) is Matt's blog covering all the goings-on at IJP Tennis.