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What Tennis Pros Go Through To Become the Best

March 07, 2023

Just like any other sport, tennis players devote monumental time to perfecting their game. It usually starts in childhood when they begin taking tennis lessons. If they have natural talent, so much the better. But kids have to love playing the game since the amount of time they’ll spend being coached will take up most of their spare time. And then the tournaments start so they can begin to earn ranking points by winning. If you will be watching the pros at Wimbledon, you might want to know what it takes to get them where they are.

Talent and Body

This is a contentious issue among experts. Swedish psychologist Anders Ericsson suggests that 10,000 hours of purposeful practice is the key to getting to the top, but he says, “That practice has to be based on a minimum amount of talent that means the work put in actually delivers results.” Players that ascend the ranks also must have a body that stands up to the pounding it takes on a tennis tour. If their bodies break down too easily because of weakness or not doing enough strength training in the gym, it’s questionable how far that player will go.

Going with the Flow

Tennis matches have variable lengths, so players shouldn’t get stressed out over time. For instance, if a player is scheduled to play the third match, the start time could be a window of several hours. Players who can’t live with this kind of uncertainty don’t make it.

Life on the Road

A tournament schedule can be planned, but a player won’t know his or her result from one week to the next, so they may spend two nights at a hotel and then weeks at the next. They’re never sure and that can be exasperating, especially for young players.

Taking the Good with the Not So Good

If a player is on a good run, there’s a surge of optimism that brings challenges such as strain on the body, no recovery time between tournaments, an increase in media interest, greater scrutiny from fellow players, and a build-up of ranking points they must continually defend. On the other hand, a run of bad results can be seriously distressing. Many players get so caught up in their current form that they can’t see a way out or they don’t think they could ever fall from grace. Successful players deal with everything as part of an average they must manage.

Dealing with Injuries

The best players have suffered injuries. It’s how they deal with the injury setback that will determine how good they will actually be. Injuries can seem to be a terrible setback, but most only are if they’re either very serious (rare) or if the player doesn’t react properly to them. They normally require a form of ‘reset,’ which can feel like starting all over again but is all part of the learning process.

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Ashleigh Barty

Currently the number one seed, Australian Ashleigh Barty, 25, started playing tennis at the tender age of four.

“I used to play against the wall of the house as soon as I came home from school,” Barty said. By the time she was 12, she was already playing with adults. When she was just 14 years old in 2010, she began her professional career. At the same time, she was the world No. 2 junior and the 2011 Wimbledon girls’ singles champion. Barty won her first match on the WTA tour in 2013 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Tired of traveling and missing home, Barty took a break from her tennis career in September 2014 at the age of 18. She decided to return to tennis in 2016.

“It was the best decision to leave and an even better decision to return to tennis,” she said after her French Open win in 2019.

Has Barty Won Wimbledon?

Barty claimed the Wimbledon title in 2021, beating Karolina Pliskova in the final to become the first Australian woman to win the title since Evonne Goolagong (who is also Barty’s mentor) won the second of her two Wimbledon crowns in 1980. Barty won her first Grand Slam singles title at the 2019 French Open, beating Czech Marketa Vondrousova 6-1, 6-3 in the final. She then won Wimbledon in 2021, defeating Pliskova in the final, 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-3.

Novak Djokovic

Like Barty, Noval Djokovic, from Serbia, began playing tennis at the age of four. During the summer of 1993, he was spotted by Serbian tennis player and coach, Jelena Genčić in his parents’ fast-food joint. When she saw him play, she was amazed by his excellent performance at such a young age and went on to coach him until 1999. Djokovic was sent to Germany to train when he was 12 where he spent four years being coached by former Croatian tennis player Nikola Pilić. Djokovic made his international debut in 2001 at the age of 14, and won the European championship’s singles and doubles titles.

Turning Pro

In 2003, Djokovic turned pro. He was at his best in 2011, winning three of the four Grand Slam titles (US Open, Wimbledon, and Australian Open). He reached the pinnacle of success when he secured the World No. 1 rank on July 4, 2011. He also created a new record by winning maximum single season prize money of $12 million in the ATP World Tour. In 2014, he clinched his second Wimbledon singles title after defeating Roger Federer. At the 2019 Wimbledon Championships, he successfully defended his title against Federer. At the 2020 Australian Open, he defeated Federer again in straight sets in the semi-final and Dominic Thiem in five sets in the final to win his eighth Australian Open title.

Djokovic, 35, is currently the No. 1 seed in men’s tennis and considered by many to be one of the greatest professional tennis players ever.

Novak Djokovic is currently the No. 1 men’s tennis player in the world.

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