Ever wish you could go back in time and tell mini-you some little secret you’ve figured out later on?!
I do. All the time! “Ahhh, if only someone had told me that things work this or that way!” is literally on the agenda for me.
And since there’s a million things I would tell mini-me 👧, I figured why not tell everybody instead?
There must be someone right now who’s where I was and would need to hear exactly the same things I needed to. Aren’t we all the same after all?
Hi, my name is Elena 👋🏻 and, just like you, I'm on a mission to become the best tennis player I can 🥇. Even without a fancy team, or too much talent. Just with a huge desire to make it.
That's why Tennis Rematch exists: to share everything I learn along the way 🤓, so you can get better faster, and together we can prove that we can achieve anything we set our mind to 🔥.
But ok, back to business now!
If you’re wondering, no, I’m not gonna tell you all the million things I was mentioning before, but just my top 5 (because... let’s skip to the good part, shall we?!). I hope you’ll find them helpful 😇.
I’ll see you in the comments, can’t wait to read what was your best piece of tennis advice!
#1 - Your shots are good enough.
This would be one of the first things I’d tell myself. And no, I wouldn’t whisper it to my ear, I would literally shout it (or sing it 🎶, why not!).
Ahah, I’m sure having someone saying it out loud would shock me 🤯.
For some weird reason, during my teen years I was super self-conscious and sooooo ashamed of my forehand and my overhead that I would often try to avoid them.
I had this (bad) movie 🎬 playing on repeat in the back of my mind, where I’d hit forehands that look horrible to me and miss every single overhead.
I was obsessed. And super convinced that was the reality. I didn’t realize it was just a story made up by me and my stupid self-doubt.
If only someone had come to me and said out loud 🗣️ : “Your forehand is not as bad as you picture it! Sure it’s not the Federer forehand, but hey... even Djokovic doesn’t have it, and yet he’s won just as much!”
✨ So please, never ever feel ashamed of your tennis shots. Not every forehand needs to look like Roger’s! And anyway, who cares how your shots look? As long as they’re effective and win you points, they’re good as they are!
(I’m not saying you shouldn’t improve your technique, not all! In fact, I’m the first ✋ to question my technique when something feels off. I switched to the Federer’s forehand (or tried to) not too long ago, remember?! I’m just saying: don’t believe all your inner-self tells you, because it might be very far from the truth!)
#2 - Your dreams don’t have an expiration date.
Ahhhh, soooo incredibly true!
But when you’re 15yo and all you hear and see is how amazing were Rafa and Sharapova to win their first big titles at such a young age, you think that of course your dream has an expiration date.
And you better rush and achieve all you need to by the right deadlines, because otherwise you’re out. You have no chance.
If only someone had come to me and explained that yes, those of Rafa and Sharapova are incredible achievements ⭐, but not at all the norm. That it’s plenty of other stories of players who got into tennis late (just like me!), never won anything in juniors but achieved amazing things later on in their career.
Maybe (MAYBE!) I would have believed in myself a bit more and not given up on my dream during uni. Who knows 🤷♀️.
✨ Not everybody is going to be a champion before turning 18. And not every champ had the same timeline as Sinner, Raducanu and Alcatraz. We all have our own path and time. As long as you keep working hard and don’t quit along the way, you’ll get there.
#3 - Don’t be afraid to lose.
Easier said than done, I know.
But if I had understood early on that losing is not something to be ashamed of but rather something necessary to make progress, then I would have looked for many more loss opportunities!
Ahaha, I know it sounds counterintuitive 🙊! But you have no idea how many times I had the choice between two different tournaments and turned down the most challenging one.
Because... why would you choose to compete in the one where you have the lowest chance of success, right 😬?!
Well, turns out that’s not the smartest way to go about it. Yes, it might build up your confidence in the short-term (if you win), but isn’t the ultimate goal to beat everybody anyway?!
No matter the result, the more you can face higher-level opponents the better. That’s how you gain experience and speed up your progress!
✨ If you never lose, you’re not challenging yourself enough. Embrace your losses. Losing will inspire you to work harder.
(You remember my first loss post-comeback, don’t you?! I do as if it was yesterday! It hurt like crazy 😭, but my tennis wouldn’t be where it is today without it.)
#4 - Don’t wait to be ready. Just start.
This is a lesson I learnt right from the start and I’m so grateful I did.
I’ve always been surrounded by people who constantly pushed me to try things I felt completely unprepared for, things I would have never even considered if it was for me. (I was lucky 🍀, I know!)
But the thing is, I can’t believe how many opportunities I would have lost if I hadn’t learnt that sometimes you need to throw yourself in uncomfortable situations and see what happens!
Just to name a few...
👉 At the age of 13/14 👧, my first-first coach proposed me to train like a mad person for an entire summer and then go play some junior tennis tournaments around Europe 🇪🇺.
To me and my family, his plan was the result of complete insanity 👀! After all, I had grabbed my first ever racket only 2 years earlier, at age 11! Somehow though, his enthusiasm and determination was contagious and he convinced us all.
Well, let me tell you. It was one of the best summers of my entire life! Yes, it was crazy tough (I remember sleeping instead of eating during my lunch break), but oh boy how fun and rewarding it was!
Not only I had tried firsthand what it meant to train like a pro 💦, but also cut much of the distance between my tennis and some of the best players of my age. It was life-changing to see hard work paying off dividends like that!
👉 And what about when I got to play a $100k WTA tournament as my first pro tournament at age 18? Crazy, absolutely crazy!
The years before I had been working there as a line judge (the tournament was held at the club where I used to train) and now, all of a sudden, I was granted a wild card for the qualies. I couldn’t believe it. And I was so soooo scared! (The night before I slept like 💩)
Yes, I might have lost 6-0 6-0 but the experience was absolutely priceless!
After that, every other tournament felt like nothing, zero pressure whatsoever! And even the next year that same tournament went much better: before getting a double bagel again, I won my first round of qualies (on the same day of my high-school final exam)! It was unbelievable to say the least!
✨ Throw yourself in uncomfortable situations, that’s where the opportunities lie. There’s no need to feel ready: just start and you’ll figure everything out on the way!
#5 - Do the most with what you have.
That’s right. Mini-me would have needed to hear this so much!
I’ve always thought of myself as the underdog on duty (it’s no coincidence the title of my first ever YouTube video 🎬 is Life as an UNDERDOG on the TENNIS COURT): you know, the one who’s started playing too late, the one who doesn’t come from a tennis family, the one who’s expected to lose...
Little did I know that was actually an advantage. Can you imagine how little pressure did I have?! Can you imagine how much I wanted to prove myself?! Indeed 💁♀️.
The problem was, I’ve never really felt like what I did was enough. After all, if that was what I could achieve with what I was given, what if instead I had won the tennis lottery and had the perfect conditions?! How much better could I have done?!
That was, my bad, the wrong approach 🥺. If only someone had told me that hey, this is what you got, so now your goal is to make the most out of it. Forget about what if. Imperfect conditions are just an excuse.
That would have been a healthy kick in the butt 👌.
✨ You don’t need perfect conditions to succeed. All you need is to make the most of what you already have.
And voilà, there you have it: tennis advice I wish I could tell mini-me!
How about you, what’s your favorite piece of tennis advice? In what way would it have helped you?
Please don’t be shy and share your story in the comments below! I’d love to read it 🥰. Not to mention, you never know who might need to hear it!
Thank you so much for reading this blog up to the very end, I really hope you liked it and found yourself in some of my stories! I’m sure we all have some hidden insecurities, and sharing them can only be good.
If you don’t mind, leave me a clap (or two) so I know you made it ‘till here!
Hope your 2022 started off great 🚀.
Talk to you super soon 💕,
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