The Challenge of Greatness
My world came tumbling down at precisely 8:44pm, Thursday April 3rd. That was the exact date and time my pride took a hit. I was #1 in my league. My performance in the league caught the attention of many. The bar had been raised. My team captain granted me the honor of playing against much harder competition. There were even five spectators watching this doubles match.
With every miss, the spectators grinned. They were witnessing the demise of the person that had hogged the #1 spot for the entire first half of the season. I knew my game was off. My ego told me that though I was sick, I could still play and do well. I was sweating my ass off as my fever had made an untimely comeback. My game was only off by milliseconds, but it cost me dearly. My doubles partner and I lost in humiliating fashion 6-1, 6-2. Consequently, I fell off the Top Ten leader board into oblivion for all to see.
My ego was beaten to a pulp that night. Doubt had eaten into my confidence in days that followed. Am I even a good tennis player anymore? I wondered. I played doubles two days later to see if I could recover. In four sets, I had only managed to win one. My ground strokes were slower than usual. My confidence at the net (usually a strength) was shaky. Worst of all, my consistency was well short of what I did when I was at my best.
On Wednesday night, I practiced for the first time with my doubles partner to prepare for this weekend's doubles tournament in Baton Rouge. Even though we won 6-3, 7-5, I was disappointed. I somehow expected to win by a greater margin. Our opponents were good, but not great. Too many unforced errors made it a ho hum win.
If we are going to win against the #3 seed tonight, we must play at a higher level. My contribution must be a very high rate of consistency, great serving and spectacular net play. Will the man, who was once great, show up this weekend? Or will I continue to choke from my shaken confidence? Stay tuned.