History was made at the 2010 Wimbledon Championships, when John Isner and Nicolas Mahut battled on the court for a record 11 hours, 5 minutes spread over three days. Both players displayed remarkable mental toughness throughout the match, but Inser took the victory 70-68 in the fifth set. “It was the will to win. Not that I outwilled him; I mean, obviously, he gave it his all,” Isner said.
Reasonably, both men were wiped out when it was all said and done. Isner “was incoherent” for 20 minutes, according to his coach, Craig Boynton. “We played the greatest match ever, in the greatest place to play tennis,” said Mahut. Each player gave it their all leaving everything they had on the court day after day. “It was really painful, but I knew I couldn’t hold anything back,” said Mahut.
To be successful in tennis you must have the mental toughness to overcome adversity and maintain a high level of performance. “I kept telling myself to stay focused on finishing strong after I missed a shot. I knew I would eventually get my look,” Isner said.
Isner had the mental tools needed to stick with his strategy while performing at a high level, and avoid letting a mistake affect his performance. To do this you need to develop a mental strength that compliments your tennis skills. Practice and training will help you achieve mental strength, but it is import that you avoid frustration between points. Frustration only works in favor of your opponent.
“It was frustrating at times, but I didn’t let it get to me or throw me off my game,” said Isner. Do not be afraid to make mistakes. Every athlete makes mistakes, but the ability to maintain confidence and focus on the next play separates talented athletes from the elite. Leave it all on the court! Let your mental strength and abilities guide your performance.