Well, the Olympics have come and gone. Overall, a great show. As I was flipping through our 99 channels, struggling to find anything worth watching (really looking for Law and Order), I came across Tennis on the USA Network. The US Open. This is one of the four “major” tournaments in professional tennis. Most of you don’t know, and nobody would ever guess, but in my younger days, I was a tennis player. I loved to play and managed to play decent. I grew up watching Jimmy Connors and Chris Everett. One year, I got a treat and got to attend the US Open with my father. It is one of my fondest memories. I actually got to see Andre Agassi play. Talk about an incredible player. I think what made it partly special is my father managed to sneak us into Center Court to watch him play. You needed tickets to get in, but some how we got in and managed to sit mid court. He was a special player and I got to see him play at the Open!
As I looked to see who was playing tonight, I didn’t think it would be a big name, but as it turned out, it was James Blake. He is considered to be one of the best American players today. He was playing someone I had never heard of, Donald Young. On paper, this should have been a one sided match, 3 quick sets. But somehow, Blake had been pushed to 5 sets. As I watched the 5th set play out, Young looked like a top player. Now this happens often, a lesser player plays above his potential and gives the star a run for his money. But this kid seemed to be playing his game. Nothing seemed to get to him. Blake was giving him his complete arsenal and the kid hung in.
Now I am a believer that experience plays a huge factor in situations like this. In big pressure matches, you can’t sweat the small things. You have to see the big picture. With experience comes even temperament. If you can keep an even temperament, you are better served (unless you are Connors or Mac). I sat there thinking out loud, “Is this unranked kid really going to beat one of the better US players in the 1st round?” But then it happened. The lack of experience got to the kid. At 4 all in the 5th set, he lost the vision of the big picture. He was serving at 15 all, and a shot of Blake’s hit the baseline and was called in. Young challenged the call, perfectly within his rights. But when the computer proved that the ball landed in, he lost the vision. He was visibly shaken. With the score now 15-30, he proceeded to double fault. Now it was 15-40, double break point. If he loses the next point, he would be down a break, and most likely, the match would be over. His inexperience was getting the best of him. He served the next point, managed to get the serve in, but hit the returned shot into the net to lose the game. Blake was now up a break at 5-4 and in control. Young could not regain the focus, the vision, or his game. 5 quick points later the match was ended. In reality, the match was over the game before.
I wish I had seen more of the match, but I got to see the important part, the end. It was sad to see Young lose the vision, but it happens all the time. It was not the first time it happened, nor will it be the last. In Blake’s career, he lost his first nine 5 set matches. Since, he has won 4 of 5. Focus is important in anything you have passion for. Lose the big picture, and you may lose out at a chance to be great. Not to worry, Donald Young will be back with many more chances to capture the big picture. He just better hope not to face Blake in the first round again.