My sister Steph and my brother-in-law Luis are big tennis buffs — they love to watch high-stakes games whenever they can. I’m not a huge tennis fan myself, but I’m always fascinated by the connections I see between peak performance in sports and in our pursuit of the writing life. Recently, six-time U.S. Open champion Chris Evert was asked to analyze some of the key players in today’s field. Her comments underscored the importance of strategy, being aggressive on court, and above all, the importance of being resilient: bouncing back and staying confident. Here are a few tips we might all use:
Be strategic: When Chris was asked how players were responding to the awesome power of Serena Williams, she noted that they are being more strategic in their playing. As she put it, “They know they can’t slug away at the baseline because Serena is the best at powerful ground strokes and moving. The players are showing more variety, throwing in drop shots, moving up to the net, drawing her in.”
Be fearless: According to Chris, Victoria Azarenka is the toughest opinion Serena faces “because she defends so well against Serena’s power, plus she’s fearless, she’s aggressive and she’s not afraid to take balls out of the air and hit winners. Her kind of game will give Serena trouble”
Be resilient: When Chris assessed the top male players, she noted that Rafael Nadal has been “unbeatable” on hard courts this year and as a result, his confidence is high. Andy Murray, this year’s Wimbledon winner has had some ups and downs more recently, which might affect his playing and Novak Djokovic, “…is a bit of a question mark because we know he’s a champion, but in the last few matches he’s had a series of losses and he’s a little down on himself.”
Be consistent: According to Chris, Federer is now in fourth place among the top male players, “…but he has flashes of brilliance the other three don’t have. The problem is they aren’t consistent. I don’t know if he can put together two or three big four- or five-set matches at this stage of his career.”
Be dangerous: As Chris puts it, John Isner has a chance of making some waves. “He’s played the best tennis of his career the last few weeks, so he’s got to feel confident…
He seeems to be anticipating and moving a little bit better and returning a little bit better. These players fear him now.”
So what’s the takeaway here for us as writers? Be strategic, be fearless, be resilient, be consistent, and be dangerous! Sounds like a recipe for success. Write on!