I live in Atlanta and here we are huge on tennis so I hit 3-4 days a week. Since the USTA allows it, I'm on the rosters of a 4.0 and 4.5 team simultaneously although I honestly shouldn't compete at the lower level. I play several tournaments every year at 4.5 or Open and I won a couple of titles last year, plus I'm nationally ranked in doubles in my age division. I sandbag at 4.0 because my team is the best on and off the court. We're all good friends who have played together for years and I'd love to go with them to the Nationals one of these days. It'd be a hoot! Hopefully I won't get bumped up before that happens.
So far this season I've won all five of my 4.0 matches but lost the two 4.5s. Even though I lost them I'm not terribly upset because, in addition to keeping my rating at 4.0, both matches were close and I lost one solely because I went brain dead after I got a big lead. I have a big problem with doing that and I'm here to try to talk myself through this because the anxiety of it is driving my teammates nutty.
Every player blows a lead at one time or another but for me it's happened quite a bit the past few matches. This past Thursday I played a makeup mixed match and my partner and I won the first set 6-3. In the second we were up 4-1 and then my mind went on a walkabout. When it came back we'd lost in a tiebreaker. I can't even blame my partner for any part, it was entirely my fault. I let so many balls float past that I nearly strained my neck watching them fall in. I didn't even wave my racquet when set point slowly cruised over my shoulder and landed 2 feet inside baseline. My partner was mad, but he was very nice about it. He put some friendly pressure on me and we won the third quickly, 6-1.
And even though I was aware of it, it happened again today. It was the first round of the 4.0 playoffs and I played 1 doubles. Our opponents were slow starters and we overwhelmed them early, taking the first set 6-1. Going into the second we had them looking demoralized so we stayed on them and were soon serving at 3-0. Instead of me going for the jugular and getting the heck off the court, I mentally started clipping my toenails and physically stopped moving my feet. Again I stupidly let balls go by and we didn't win another game that set. Between the second and third my partner and our opponents left the court for a short break and my coach pulled partner aside. He told her to tell me to get my butt hustling or he'd put a foot in it at practice. That was all the motivation I needed and we won the third 6-1.
I don't know why I go away during my matches. I'm bothered by it because it's only a matter of time before I sleep away a match the team really needs. Oy, this is frustrating! Tomorrow I play mixed. Hopefully I'll figure this out and win in straights.