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The Weight of Winning - Greatness and Glory

I am certainly no Chuck Kriese, Bob Bayliss or Dick Gould. Heck I'm probably not even a good Dick Tracy. But I have had a pretty decent career in tennis so far.

UAH Coach Paul Thomson
I coach because it is a way to teach, develop and mold players from my experiences, successes and mistakes. Ideally, I coach to help my players grow to be better people - and to be more successful than me and those I learned from. It doesn't matter what level we coach: high school, college or tour level. It is - or it should be - the same for guys and girls. The ultimate goal is watching their process develop into a product.

We teach to take on each one's responsibility, to carry their weight, and to preach to not let opportunities pass them by. Players are taught that walls are not barriers - but rather opportunities to be used as a canvas to paint - or a high point to climb upon to see what is ahead of us. Losses are used not as failures but as edification opportunities. Our job is to push our players through doors where there have never been before - and to get them past their fears of failure, success and the unknown.

Just recently I had one of these teaching moments with my women's team - and specifically a couple of players on the team. Both carried the weight. One was great, the other got the glory, and the team got the win.

The van ride was a short hour drive down the road to play perhaps our biggest conference rival. This was a team that we had not beaten in at least nine years - which was as far back as I could find records. This match started as most of ours normally do - tight doubles play, and this time a 2-1 deficit going into singles. [NCAA Division II scoring has nine points - three doubles matches and six singles matches counting one point each.] We lost a pretty quick match on Court 3 to fall behind 3-1. Although we were up a set on a couple of other courts I knew it would be tough to pull out - and I knew what courts we were going to have to have some help on. As the match progressed, we picked up wins on two courts to get the score to 3-3.

This is when it got fun.

With three matches still on, we were up a set on Court 1 and down a set on 4 and 5. One of my players - a junior - had dropped an ugly first set. She had been struggling this year, suffering several close three-set losses. After the quick first set, I feared that the wheels would come off for her. But I saw a distinct determination on her face. She wasn't done. I began to give her subtle tips and worked to keep her confident. She dug deep and began to chip, charge, junk roll and do whatever she could to keep balls in play. She began drawing errors from the other player and pulled out the second set 6-4.

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Page updated on Monday, November 04, 2019
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