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Dealing With Hooks

The stories are often the stuff of legend. They spread from person to person often picking embellishments along the way: "he's the worst hook in country"; "better get a line judge in advance"; "lines are out against him"; "she gives the worst calls", etc. Since tennis players have to call their own lines (most of the time), it's no surprise that cheaters pose such a dilemma for developing players. At times, it's downright intimidating. After all, it seems downright UNFAIR to work hard just to have someone run away with the match on a bad line call. Heck, there are some coaches out there who are shameless enough to not only condone this type of behavior from their pupils but to downright encourage it (without a doubt, these coaches never amounted to anything worthwhile as players). 


Now, I can give you the standard advice and tell you to get an umpire or cheat the other player back to teach her a lesson. However, that's not what Im about. You see, I've played my fair share of high-level matches (college, futures, challengers and open tournaments) and in my experience I can't remember A SINGLE bad call that I've gotten in these matches.

Did they happen? Probably. Did they determine the outcome of the match? Most definitely not. Did all the junior players who had a bad reputation find religion or develop consciousness once they got into college? I sincerely doubt it. The fact is that players who rely on cheating to get through their early matches in the career never really manage to achieve respectable levels later on. They use cheating as a crutch and, like anything else that makes things easy, it takes the focus off something else that's more difficult: hard work. You can only rely on bad calls to get you through so many times and you can't cheat your way through workouts, practices, gym, running, jumping rope, etc. Eventually, taking the coward's way out will work against you and, by that time, it will be too late to right the ship and adjust your attitude. 

So, when faced with a cheater my advice to you is the same as my dad's advice to me: you shouldn't put yourself in the position where one point - one bad call - can make the difference in the match; seek to be SO much better than your opponents that one or two bad calls won't make a difference. If you find yourself the victim of a cheater say "THANK YOU". Rather than being discouraged, use this experience to motivate you to work harder - get better, faster and stronger. I'd go as far as putting a picture of this nemesis on your mirror and stare at it every morning when you wake up. See his face when you're jumping rope, running your sprints and miles, lifting your weights and crushing your serves. What can I say?! Contempt is a heck of a motivator. In no time, you'll be giving him points just to make it an even contest.

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