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Tennis Warrior
July 2005 Article

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Practice to improve, not to win!

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Tom Veneziano

Do you remember the great match seventeen-year-old Maria Sharapova played to win Wimbledon in 2004? It reminded me of the time Boris Becker won Wimbledon in 1986 when he was seventeen. He had NO fear. He just did it! Maria possessed this same quality. NO fear and pure execution. She stayed consistently in a 'go for her shot' mindset. She surprised me, too! I did not think she would maintain that type of intensity for two sets against Serena. There was one opening that Serena had in the second set when she pulled into the lead, but Maria quickly blocked that opening with some creative shot- making. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened had Serena won the second set. Sharapova apparently did not care to find out and quickly slammed the door shut in the second set!!!

The most important lesson in this event is the unseen lesson. Although you were watching a great physical athlete in Sharapova, her sheer determination and ability to make good decisions at a young age set the stage for this history-making upset. Not only does she make decisions to practice relentlessly and stay dedicated, but she has an unbelievable ability to keep going for her shots (the absence of cautiousness). Either someone taught her the importance of staying in a 'go for it' mindset or she instinctively understands. My own instincts say she has always had an innate sense of what she has to do.

You can bet she has made many decisions in past matches to go for her shots . . .win or lose. I would also be willing to bet that someone told her not to go for her shots when she was losing. This is the typical pattern: If you win going for your shots... Yes, that's the way to go! But, if you lose going for your shots... No, that's terrible, slow down your shots! In Sharapova's case she kept swinging until the balls began dropping in the court with laser accuracy. And it all came together at Wimbledon on national television!

Practice to improve, not to win! Sharapova is a perfect example of practicing to improve. It's pretty obvious that she has been practicing the art of going for her shots for years, regardless of the failures.

Now, if a seventeen-year-old can do it, don't you think it's time you get past this obstacle! :)

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This column is copyrighted by Tom Veneziano, all rights reserved.

Tom is a tennis pro teaching at the Piney Point Racquet Club in Houston, Texas. Tom has taught thousands of players to think like a pro with his Tennis Warrior System.


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