As tennis fans you may have witnessed the wonderful ongoing rivalries that have taken place between McEnroe and Connors, Agassi and Sampras, Graf and Seles, Federer and Hewitt and so on.
A rivalry can be a blessing or a curse depending on what it brings out in a person.
For young players today, there is a growing focus on becoming world beaters.
More and more children hold the dream of someday playing on the circuit for a living.
It is a very realistic and noble goal for many players that are coming through the ranks.
However, we must take a reflective look at how these children are developing.
I believe there are potential dangers that can be avoided.
Dangers that develop from rivalry's that can turn sour in a heartbeat as someone makes a difficult line call or attempts to psyche out their opponent with needless babble.
Competition The Latin root word for competition means "to conspire together".
In other words, competition by its very nature is designed to bring the best out of each other by being our best.
Too often rivalry's that turn sour become focused on dragging someone else down so that the other can stay above their opponent.
This goes against the true meaning of competition and reduces both players to under-development.
Neither player gets to experience the growth that can come from being pushed to their limits.
Who will you turn to? A rivalry that turns ugly may come back to haunt those who dream of playing on the tour.
The circuit can be a lonely place.
As a junior, whenever I travelled interstate we would always buddy up with the people from our home town.
We looked for someone that we could talk to or hit with during the time away.
What do you think happens when you travel overseas? The same sort of thing.
There is no one around except those that you grew up playing against.
People from your own country, those opponents that helped you develop your skills, will become the people you will want to turn to when you are on your own.
Think about it...
Who will you hit with? Who's going to train with you? Who will be there to push you to do that 50th push-up when you want to sit down and watch TV? Who will be there to support you when you're on the verge of gathering crucial points and prize money? Create friendships and conspire together to make it onto the circuit.
Watch that you don't burn your bridges, living the lonely life on the circuit because of some childish rivalry that got out of hand when you were 13 years old.
Work together - bring the best out of each other.
If there is a suspicious line call - give it to your opponent and find out how good you really are.
If your goal is to be the best you can be, then you are only ever competing with yourself.
Opponents are really there to see how much you have improved.
Be fair, be honest and buddy up with someone now who shares the same dream as you and together, you can both live out your dreams.
Make your rivalry make you better.
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