Updated: Aug 31, 2019
This article covers the importance of playing competitive and meaningful matches in New Zealand. We analyze our countries mentality towards competition and what we can do better to achieve more success on court.
Tournaments can sometimes be hard to come by, especially in New Zealand. As a parent, you want your child to play as many tournaments as possible but the options and opportunities can be limited. In this article I will be discussing New Zealand’s mentality on competitions and analyzing what we can do better to achieve more success on court. It is difficult to compete with countries in Europe but I believe some of the points I will make can be a step in the right direction.
What are the challenges we face?
1- Tennis is an incredibly expensive sport and this is even more evident in NZ due to our location. Our players need to travel overseas to enhance their skills and to do this they will need financial assistance. It’s important to have a plan in place for parents to be able to support their children and understand alternative options to help them (such as; sponsorships, funding, coaching to earn money etc..).
2- New Zealand’s mentality on tennis and working hard can sometimes come across as “lazy”. When I have been overseas, there has been a clear difference in players mentality, whether it’s confidence, work ethic or future goals.
In New Zealand, you are considered “not cool” if you train hard or want to be professional. This needs to change or we are never going to develop professional tennis players. Training hard and having goals to be professional should be encouraged, not diminished.
3- I see so many top junior players not entering tournaments, whether it’s regional or nearby cities. There is a mindset players or parents won’t enter tournaments ‘early’ or ‘first’, especially if they’re higher ranked or worried about other entries. People need to understand that if they see good players in a tournament, other good players will then want to enter, creating competitive matches. If you are not entering a tournament due to you “not wanting to play that person because I lost last time and I don’t want to lose ranking points”, then you may need to find another sport. I can understand many players getting frustrated playing the same opponents in most tournaments, but there are many options for players to alleviate this issue.
What Parents and Players should be doing:
1- Entering older age groups rather than your own. Focus on getting competitive matches rather than winning titles. Losing makes you a better player.
2- Compete in every tournament possible (in your region), as well as around the country.
3- Enter tournaments early to allow other players to enter.
4- Don’t concentrate on who is across the net, think about what you can gain from playing matches (even if you’ve played this opponent numerous times before - you can always do better!). Tennis is a selfish sport and you should embrace it.
5- If you have an easier match, work on different aspects of your game (e.g. serve volley, more variation, or less unforced errors). You might lose a few more games, but you are becoming a better player and getting value out of every match you play.
From a Tennis NZ point of view:
1- Create more senior tournaments in holidays so elite juniors can get better competition.
2- Have a grading system like ATP/WTA where you get rewarded for tournament performance rather than head to head. They already do this (somewhat) with NZ Top 8 Masters.
3- Regions; talk to top players and ensure they need to play these tournaments to be selected in teams.
It’s difficult for New Zealand to compete with countries in Europe and across the world. Unfortunately we do not have the luxury of traveling to France for a weekend tournament, or to play on a clay court. But with some of the points I have made, I believe a change in mentality towards competition and work ethic (explained more in a future article) would go a long way and be a step in the right direction. Tournaments are essential for any players wanting to improve and parents/coaches/players need to ensure players are competing as much as possible. Don’t make the same mistakes as numerous people do and regret not trying hard enough throughout your junior career.