Over the course of my career, I have had many high and low moments. Growing up playing court tennis from such an early age, I was able to meet so many kind and generous people, all of whom taught me many things. Over time I have tried to embrace these four core values in not only my tennis, but also my life. This is where many of the hashtags I use, and the expressions I use on court come from.
#Focus has become the hashtag I am most known for in court tennis, but it has a very humble beginning. Growing up, my concentration on court was never great. I would flow in and out of the match I was playing, causing me to have very long “roller coaster ride” matches, many of which ended with me losing or winning in five sets.
When I started to work with Dacre Stoker, his first goal was to improve my concentration. This resulted in me thinking about nothing else on court but focusing, mainly because it was shorter and easier to say than concentrate. I started yelling at myself during matches when I would lose my concentration, and FOCUS! was always what would come out. It has stuck with me and become the very principle I live by in court tennis. Whether I am working on solo practice, meal prep, or a gym session my goal is always to #FOCUS.
#GoForGold came about right when I was joining the Gold Leaf Athletics team. Sean Quinn, the owner of Gold Leaf, and I had been chatting for months, working hard on prototypes and designs for rackets. I was always amazed to see how passionate and hard working Sean was on the rackets. It made me that much more passionate about my tennis.
The hashtag came about as a way for us both to show the world what our goals were. Sean refused to make anything but the best court tennis racket, and I refused to do anything but be the best court tennis player. We weren’t happy with second place at court tennis, or anything in life, our only goal was gold and to #GOFORGOLD.
#NoPain started when I was still an amateur trying to rise through the ranks, and is short for No Pain No Gain. I was in high school, and had been stuck at a 12 handicap for almost two years. My good friend Gabe Kinzler was working at the club in Aiken, and playing with him and talking with him showed me just how much more work could be done on court. At the time I had a two handed backhand, and the consensus was that I needed to change to a one handed to get better.
Talking with Gabe made me realize that in order to get better I had to go through periods of struggle, AKA pain, in order to eventually get better, AKA gain. I set out with a goal to immediately change to a one handed backhand, and never looked back. With Gabes help and motivation I was able to go from a 12 handicap to a +2 handicap in just over 6 months. The lesson I learned that year has become so important to all the choices I make in life. There is no easy answer, no cheat code, no one who can do the work for you, there is #NOPAINNOGAIN
#IamEnough is the most personal of my values, and applies as much to life itself as it does to court tennis. No matter what walk of life you come from, or are in, it is tough to constantly believe in yourself. We all have moments of doubt, moments of fear, and moments of sadness that we have to overcome.
I have dealt with these myself both in court tennis and in life, but I have made it my goal to never look at myself and feel that I am not good enough, smart enough, or strong enough to do anything. We are all capable of amazing things, and the key to that success starts with happiness, not just in life but with yourself. No matter what you must be happy with who you are, you must believe in who you are, and you must constantly remember that #IAMENOUGH