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Dream Big

The following contribution comes from Richard Johnson. I first met Richard when he would come out to the desert in order to visit his brother David. Richard's always had a huge game that was supported by a solid foundation and a top-notch attitude. Playing points against him is never easy. He will make you work hard for every point and, with a relentless attacking game, you need to come up with a lot of good returns and passing shots just to get close. It goes to show the positive impact of developing solid fundamentals early and continuing to polish them through the development stages. Here's a quick bio (please check the upwards progression through the rankings): 

Quick Bio: #1127 ATP in 2008; Played #2-4 singles senior year and # 1 doubles as captain at Pepperdine; Member of 2006 Division 1 NCAA championship team; 12's: top 150 in nation, top 5 in Intermountain section, #1 in colorado; 14's: top 70 in nation, top 3 in intermountain, #1 in Colorado; 16's: top 30 in nation, # 1 in intermountain section and in colorado; 18's: top 10 in nation, # 1 in intermountain section (round of 16 of Kalamazoo supernational). 


Dream big and keep your goals in mind. After the novelty of tennis and travelling a little wears off, you need a dream and goals to do the amount of training and get through long and tedious practices. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be a famous pro. I think that too many kids and parents are afraid to admit their true goals because they are afraid of being ridiculed for having unrealistic plans. Who cares if it is  unfashionable to want to be great at something?!

Becoming a great tennis player and being educated and successful at other things are not exclusive. The higher your goals are, the better tennis player you are likely to become. The better tennis player you become, the better your fallback options will be. If you try to go pro but can't quite make it, your consolation will be a full scholarship to your choice of top universities.

If you dream, have high goals, and are serious about those goals, the rest will follow. No one knows which 10-16 year old is going to “make it” until they are already winning ATP level matches. The two most successful players from my generation were John Isner and Sam Querrey. They were not the “chosen ones.” My point is that you need to keep working and have a long term vision that isn’t thrown off by every loss or frustration. You don't know when things will click, how your body will develop, and what opportunities will come your way. The players who end up being successful keep working for as long as they played tennis.

Your goals need to be front and center in your tennis. You need to decide on them and think about them often, because if you step on the court or go to a tournament without the motivation that comes with wanting to achieve these goals, it is too hard to practice right and it is a waste of time. If you keep working while being serious about your goals, you will train right and play right. If you are serious about your high goals and keep them in mind, there is no way you will tank matches, get pissed, or waste time on court because you will realize there is no time for that.

Think about the physical aspects of the game. You can't control their mind. You can't will the ball to do anything, and "trying harder" isn't specific enough. Try harder to do specific things like getting split for every ball, increasing your racket head speed,  and analyzing what is working. Focus on the things that you are told every day but take years to master. Once you do everything right, do it every point, relax and don’t let anyone tell you you aren't trying hard enough. 

Richard, we thank you for your contribution and great words of advice and wish you the best in all your future legal and tennis endeavors. 

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Reader Comments (1)

what great advice to up-and-coming juniors! sharing immediately!

November 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

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