The U.S. Open has begun. Tennis fans anticipating upsets are waiting to see how it will all play out in the finals on the stadium courts.
For the first time Mardy Fish, seeded eighth, is the highest-placed American in a major championship. Renewed commitment to fitness and strength are paying off. His turnaround performance continues to improve. Fish’s confidence is building as he continues to tap into his full potential.
Last week offered an abundance of high quality activity during the qualies. Lower ranked players who did not make it into the main draw had a chance to play in the match.
Players from all over the world came for their chance to compete in the Open. The excitement is in the wild card. The momentum builds when one of those players transforms from an unknown to an up and coming contender.
Mitchell Frank, 18, is among the youngest players in the qualies. As the No. 2 ranked junior player in the U.S. he received an invitation to play alongside the pros. The experience is priceless, expanding his ability to play against any opponent. Regardless of the outcome from the qualies, Frank has a clear plan for his journey from amateur to pro, playing Division 1 college tennis as a stepping stone.
The difference in abilities between the top and lowest ranked players narrows as they move up in rankings. So what does it take for a junior, like Mitchell, to successfully follow Fish, making the leap to the pros?
- Athletic ability – Developing an effective program for endurance, agility, quickness, power and conditioning. Balance helps players reach for tough shots and reduces injury when playing. Technology continues to advance the level of fitness and ability, creating specialized programs for different athletic skills. Top fitness is a strong advantage. This season Fish has shown increased stamina, speed and fitness to stay in the rally.
- Skill set – Becoming a master on the court means strength in a wide range of strokes. Mixing up the pace is an advantage, being flexible on the court. Fine tuning technique to control the balls spin.
- Mental game – Understand the desire to turn pro. Being resilient, prepared to adapt to the demands of being on tour. Mitchell displays presence of mind. His focus, on and off the court, regardless of the circumstances is a skill. Effective problem solving while in the game leads to effective tactics when the original plan is not working.
- Experience – Specific knowledge is gained from competition. Players learn how to control their game under stressful conditions. Strategy becomes refined by playing on a variety of surfaces, under different conditions and against opponents differing play styles.
Learning kicks in by attaching emotion to an event. Setbacks and wins create the deepest learning simply because the most emotion is attached to those events. The lessons learned from taking risks and making mistakes are priceless, becoming building blocks to excellence.
Some things cannot be anticipated until a player has been in those circumstances. Instead of being overwhelmed by an opponent’s strengths, and then giving up, elite tennis players identify the weaknesses in their opponents to turn the tables in their favor.