Monday, April 11, 2011

Perseverance is the key

A couple of things happened on Saturday that illustrated that perseverance can often be the difference between winning and losing, in my own match and one of my teammates’ matches.

When my partner and I were warming up against our opponents, it was clear that they were not at our level in terms of ability.  Yes, I’ve warmed up against players that, suddenly, once the match started, were much better than they were during warm-up.  But these guys couldn’t return the ball to us with any regularity, no rally rhythm could be established, and one didn’t even want to take volleys or hit an overhead beforehand.  Although I sensed that we’d blow right through these guys, I told my partner that we needed to play our game and not play down to their level.

Unfortunately both of us played miserably in the first set; I lost my serve in the first game and it took us until they were serving at 4-3 before we broke back to get even.  I then won my serve at love and we both thought the set would soon be over.  But we were unable to break at 5-4 or 6-5 and soon found ourselves in a tiebreaker; fortunately we won it 8-6!  Because we didn’t really get down on ourselves, and persevered, we pulled out the set.  The second set went the way the first should have; we cleared up our unforced errors, won it quickly 6-1 and the match was over.

Our line 5 guys were playing opponents that were fairly evenly matched, but on our home courts we had the advantage:  a comfortable, familiar environment with cheering fans.  Although our teammates lost their first set in a tiebreaker, they quickly moved ahead and won the second set; the third set proceeded in much the same way and our guys were serving for the match at 5-3, 40-15.  Unfortunately, the lesson of perseverance then played out against our team.  Including twice during the tiebreaker, our guys had six chances – match points – to close out the match against their opponents, who won 9-7 on only their second match point.  A lesson in perseverance – and never giving up – to be sure.

Whether you're playing poorly and/or  your opponent is on the verge of beating you, remember that as long as you're still in the match, "it ain't over 'til it's over".  Hang in there and you might just win.

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