When Yogi Berra said "90% of the game is half mental" he must have been thinking of Tennis.
OK, so Yogi never hit a tennis ball in his life. The fact is that Tennis will challenge anyone to not only
hit shots properly, but also to overcome the little demons which dog the Tennis player during a match. If
you have ever played a match you know what I mean. They sneak up to you between serves, and suggest that
the next ball, which you are planning to dink into the middle of the service box, will never fit inside
that box - which is no bigger than a postage stamp.
They whisper in your ear just as that nice fat overhead is ready to be creamed into cornmeal mash. They
say ‘don’t muff this one like the one you muffed two games ago’. They won’t go away. They want to remind
you about the 40-15 lead you had that got away. They want to tell you that your opponent is not good
enough to tie your shoelaces even though you are loooooooooosssssssssssiiiiiiiiinnnn
An example of not listening to demons is this past years (2007) Wimbledon final between Roger and Rafa.
The first game Roger served and won in typical style. Then Nadal served and moved to a 40 love lead. Roger
didn’t quit and came back to win that game and his next serve for a 3 to love lead. Now if that had been me
losing that game after leading 40 to love I would have been finished. I would probably have swallowed two bagels
6 love and 6 love. My ‘half mental’ game would have been crushed. Not Rafa though. He came back to take the
match a full 5 sets and might have won had his knees been healthy. He didn’t lose because of his mind game or
listening to demons. He lost because he was playing the best player in the world.
That’s why I love Tennis. I am learning to hit shots and I am learning to think my way through a match. I
may not beat every opponent but I am knocking the fuzz off of most of those demons.