What irony! Here I sit looking out my window at a lake effect snowstorm, while on TV, Venus Williams and Andy Roddick are sweating in the hot Australian sun where temperatures are in the 80s and fans in the crowd are wearing t-shirts and tank tops! Unless you’re lucky enough to travel south during the winter, it surely makes for a long season. Oh, well, just 94 days until May 1, but who’s counting!

Not being fortunate enough to have access to the Tennis Channel on cable TV, it’s really great to have some tennis tournaments on the air again, starting with the Australian Open as the first Grand Slam event of 2005. Although most of us would rather play tennis than view it, have you ever noticed how much better your game is after you’ve watched the pros go at it? Maybe it’s a subliminal phenomenon, but perhaps we reinforce what we have learned in our drills by observing the correct way to hit a forehand or backhand or to return a blistering serve. Or maybe the pros just make tennis look so graceful and powerful, and yes, easy, that we are inspired to think that we can do as well.

Another factor in the pros’ game that we should emulate is their confidence in themselves. An essential key to our success on the tennis court is a self-confident attitude. If you play well, your confidence level rises. As your confidence increases, so does your level of play. To break into this not-so-vicious circle requires some mental calisthenics. Visualization is an excellent method to get yourself into a positive mode and to eliminate negative vibes. Think of the strengths of your game. Believe in yourself. Remember the exhilarating emotions you felt when you passed your opponent down the line or to put away an overhead. Exhibit positive body language, no matter what the score is. Don’t give your opponent an edge by appearing discouraged or frustrated.

On the physical side, increasing your fitness level will improve your self-image and drills with your club pro will help to perfect your skills. As your strategies succeed, your confidence will grow.

What’s your third point?
As if you haven’t enough pressure to play your best on the tennis court, here is a winning formula to remember. The third point in a game is probably the most important point to win. Why? If you’re ahead 30-0, winning this point brings you to 40-0 and practically insures that you’ve won the game. If you’re tied 15-15, and you win the point, you now have a bit of an advantage to capitalize on. If you’re down 0-30, you need this point just to stay in the game. So now that you are aware of this fact, concentrate on winning that all-important third point. After a while, you won’t be able to get through a game without thinking about that darn third point. It’s kind of like thinking of the word “horses” when you feel a sneeze coming on. It’s guaranteed to stop the sneeze.

In my last column, I mentioned the Chicago Tennis Patrons’ Evening of Champions Dinner, and I am pleased to announce that the Oak Park Tennis Club will be honored as Organization of the Year, and long-time OPTC member Nelson Campbell will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award that evening. All are welcome to attend as representatives of the Oak Park/River Forest/Forest Park tennis community. The dinner will be held on Feb. 12, and reservations are still available. Check out my last column at www.wednesdayjournalonline.com, for the details, or write me at higgins721@aol.com. Reservations may also be made by calling the CDTA office at 847-803-2382.

Contact: Higgins721@aol.com

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