"We lived up to the blog," said Worthy Comrade Nelson Simon of our Tennis Hate-fueling 6-0, 6-1 loss to Worthy Opponents Tam Thompsen and my beloved, Mark Hilan.
Tam and Mark won by smart, consistent play. Power player and top seed Surinder Singh was not a factor, out for a meet n' greet with corporate sponsors. Is he taking JuggleBox to a new level -- eco-friendly tennis racquets, perhaps?
It was a shaky outing for Nelson, his first return to the Brooklyn recreational tennis tour since an injury in December. Nelson's normally rock-solid at net. But he consistently missed volley winners, even when Mark and Tam hung balls above him like mistletoe. He was kissing the net, not the trophy. He also shoud have asked Santa Claus for a first serve.
We lived up to the blog."
Haters, I wasn't any better. Though my serves were consistent, our Worthy Opponents' strategy of hitting down the line past or over Nelson or short to me foiled us, again and again. And again.
"We'll figure it out," Nelson said to me during a changeover, "next week."
I was getting close to losing my cool. I was swearing under my breath and over it. I felt like crying. I felt like dying. I felt like quitting. I hated all these feelings.
Okay, I thought, this is where you have to practice all that shit you talk about in your blog, like mental toughness, staying in the moment, eyes on the ball, blah, blah blah.
I wiggled my toes and took a deep breath into my belly and scanned my body for tension, like Jeff Greenwald taught me. I thought about my intensity level (number 10 on a scale of 1 to 10, with a bullet!) as Anne Smith taught me. I even took a moment during a break to re-read my tennis story, a la Bob Litwin.
"I love to compete as much as I love to win. I LOVE to compete as much as I love to WIN," I whispered over and over, looking like a crazy street person on the subway, arguing with herself.
"And how did that work for you?" Litwin asked me later. I had called him, dejected.
Oh, for about two points. Two miserable losing points.
"They kept getting us with the same patterns, over and over again.," I whined. "They kept lobbing high over Nelson at net to my backhand. I couldn't do anything with this.
And they knew this, and kept doing this to me!"
Yes, to me, Haters. It's all about me.
Bob wisely suggested I de-personalize this. "Write a different story," he said. "'When my opponent hits a deep ball to my backhand, I respond with the appropriate shot.'
But they're attacking me, Bob! It's called an attacking shot.
Litwin suggested I avoid that word. It makes me feel a certain way, like attacking back, and not in a sportsmanlike kinda way. He also suggested that I practice with my coach the shots that Tam and Mark were using to attack me. Okay, wait, let me rephrase. That they were using to try to win the point.
Bob, who helps hedge fund guys stay calm and focused, said he tells them to practice patience while waiting for the elevator, not while they're watching the market collapse.
"Most of our good practice happens in the lesser world, at the elevator," he said. "When you're tense, you won't remember to take a deep breath unless you do it when you're not tense."
Another tip: love the process of not doing well. "Everything is always in a state of change. Suffering comes when we don't accept that."
That's it! New story: Losses help me get better. Losses are....enjoyable.
I'm Tinkerbell and I can fly!
No, I' ve got this. I love Tennis Hate. I do. I really, really REALLY do. Really. Do.