Another 2 weeks spent in South America. After having great experiences in Colombia the next 2 tournament were held in Ecuador and Paraguay. Both are beautiful countries but we didn’t go there on vacation. ITF tournaments are never easy and if you add some extreme conditions that we met during this trip you start to understand how hard you have to work to achieve good results. So we learned…
Tournaments in Ecuador and Paraguay were totally different. In Ecuador we were provided with accomodation called „Hacienda” which is typical for this part of the country. Old beds, wooden furniture and no heating during really cold nights. In Paraguay we were able to sleep in 5 stars resort where the tournament was taking place. But it is not the only difference. Courts in Ecuador were located on high altitude so these conditions are totally different than regular. It was the first time we were able to compete in this specific environment so it was a precious experience. According to practice courts Paraguay had a lot of them available during the day so you had a chance to practice as long as you would. Ecuador didn’t provide this opportunity…
After another 2 weeks in hot environment as South America is I can say that I am much smarter than I was before this trip. I saw new things that are responsible for succeeding as well as I was confirmed that some details are really crucial if you want to perform at your optimal level. Some people say that tournaments in some regions are easier than in others but it is not about results and ranking points – it is about experiences and lessons. If you get from tournament only points you wasted your money, time, and effort. There is much more to get so players and coaches should always analyze past tournaments to learn from these trips and take valuable conclusions for future planning.
As I said Ecuador and Paraguay got me thinking again. I realized that every time different factor can play a crucial role in results achieved by my player. This time these factors were:
If you didn’t play on high-altitude lands before you will be really surprised. The ball goes much further than you would like so you have to fight really hard to make the ball land before it goes behind the baseline. Few days of adapatation are crucial to start „feeling” these conditions and control the ball the way you want.
- Early matches
On many days tennis matches were starting at 8am. It means that if you want to professionally prepare for your battle (eat breakfast, practice, do mental routine etc) you have to wake up maximum at 6am. A lot of players are not used to do that consistently so that is why they lose every time they are scheduled to play so early. It is much easier to force yourself to sleep more than less so you should start waking up early every day to be ready for conditions that you can meet during competition.
- Water and towels
It is almost impossible but yes – top juniors in the world forget to have enough water or even to have a towel during the tournament’s match. Seeing players going to the fence and reaching for dirty t-shirt to dry hands is an image that got me thinking: „Are you aware of the fact that this little detail like comfortable grip can be a deciding factor of this match?” If you lose the match because of slippery grip you also wasted thousands of dollars for hotels, plane tickets and other necessary expenses. The same rule applies to water. If you are dehydrated it is not possible to play your best tennis. But you decided that one additional bottle of water made your bag too heavy…
- Balls and courts
In different countries they play using different balls. Courts are also not the same. Some are faster some are slower. In some places ball bounces regularly but in different spots ball jumps like crazy. All these factors are obstacles for players and I saw one thing: the best athletes adjust – poor athletes complain. If you want to win your match you have to control what is under your control. Can you change balls or courts? No, so focus on your game and adjust.
2 really important weeks are behind me. Ecuador and Paraguay. Checked. South America is a really valuable coaching and personal experience but we are not done. 2 more weeks to go. The next stop is … Brazil:)
Marcin Bieniek is a professional tennis coach and founder of instructional website http://tennisisland.us. Marcin has been working with USTA, top 100 ITF and WTA/ATP players. He is a frequent contributor to TennisPro and TenisKlub magazines and he was a speaker at International Coaching Tennis Symposium 2016 at Hilton Head Island, USA.