Tennis Prose



The Toughness Of Tennis Articulated By Jimmy Gatza

Jimmy Gatza, a former competitor of mine at the St. Petersburg, Florida 35s many moons ago, explains why the mental and physical toughness of players is greatly underrated and underappreciated. I don’t think I’ve ever heard it explained better than this…

Jimmy Gatza: “WATCHING THE TRACK & FIELD World Championships: Beautiful to watch. I love it. However, here is what a tennis player might see. They run one race, like the 100 yard dash, the 200, the hurdles, the 400, whatever. And they try to save themselves in every preliminary race, attempting to exert the least possible effort. The whole race may last only 10 seconds. Or maybe 10 minutes. The announcers talk about, ‘Will they be able to recover for the race in two days or is this going to affect them.'”

“What the heck are they talking about? A professional athlete just ran for 22 seconds. Compare this with tennis: A tennis player plays a 2-4 hour match in 97° heat, stopping and starting in every direction; exploding forward, backwards, left, right and every angle, playing overheads, forehands, backhands, serve returns of 100 mph plus, volleys, serves, drop shots, and different angles and vectors with every one of those shots, all the time thinking and strategizing, all the multiple possible scenarios and different styles of opponents, on different surfaces; clay, asphalt, grass, indoors, in the wind, sun in your eyes, interrupted by rain, clay in your eye, never knowing when is the right time to eat or sleep. And then, after winning a late night match, which they waited all day to play, they might only get a few hours sleep, before their next match where they have to do it all over again with a totally different style opponent. And in order to win the tournament you have to do it seven times.”

“And then you have another tournaments which starts the very next day in a different city. These primadonna runners, with their, “recovery time” couldn’t play tennis if their life depended on it.”

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