Adversity on the Road

“Adversity makes some people break – others to break records”

The Cal Poly Women’s tennis Head Coach, Hugh Bream, has implemented the concept that we have to be adaptable in all situations. Throughout a tennis match, we do not have control in many things. We do not know what the weather or conditions will bring. We do not know how our opponents will play (perhaps the best match of their life) and we do not know if we will feel at a hundred percent (perhaps under the weather or an injury). However, what we do have in control are our attitudes, effort, and concentration. We can bring this to every match and be adaptable under the difficult circumstances. This is exactly what the Cal Poly Women’s tennis team brought this weekend.

Originally we planned to head to San Francisco on Friday night and play on Saturday, but due to the weather we postponed our trip for a Sunday match against San Francisco and a Monday match against Santa Clara. On Sunday, we headed to Golden Gate Park to play at 11:00am. The courts were wet and we had to postpone the match for a few hours. This is when the girls had to be adaptable. As the coaches roll dried the courts, we had the players stay inside and keep warm. It’s important for them to stay focused and mentally prepared for the upcoming match. A lot of them stayed relaxed by listening to their iPods and laughing with the other girls. Around thirty minutes prior to the pre-match hit, we had the girls do a very long dynamic warm up and stretch to get loose and energized. It is difficult to come out ready after sitting around for a few hours, so the girls did an extra jog, as well as plyometrics and balance drills. After the warm up, we did our ritual talk to prepare the girls. Hugh and I explained that it was going to be windy, it could potentially rain, and the only thing we could control is how we kept it together. We wanted to come out with more energy, more focus, and more vocal support than our opponents. And we did just that. The girls battled with San Francisco and pulled out a 6-1 win. We were excited about the win, but even more excited about playing Santa Clara, who was 9-1 in dual matches this season.

Me and TW playtester, Kana, after a grueling practice

On Monday morning we woke up with some bad news. One of our player’s grandmothers had passed away during the night. It was a very emotional day for her, as well as for our team. To see someone you care about upset and hurting is really hard on all the girls because we are such a family unit. We did our best to support her, but also to prepare for the upcoming match. On top of that, our number one player woke up feeling very sick and we were not sure if she would be able to play.

We took these challenges in stride, met as a team, and discussed the things we could control. We knew some of the girls were not going to be as upbeat or as loud as normal, so those of us who could, would need to bring more team support and energy. We were going to fight out there with all that we had and for as long as we could.

The match began as a grueling, hard, and competitive match as we expected. Santa Clara brought out lots of fans (the hecklers on the hill) and we tried to not let it affect us. The girls stayed focused on their courts, and only on the things they could control. They stuck to their game plans, played tactically, and most importantly with tons of heart. I have never seen a team dig so deep for each point. As I watched us take a lead at 3-2, I was not sure if we would get the win overall, but I had faith in the girls and how hard they were competing. We eventually won 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 on one of the last courts, and 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (11-9) on the final court. We had beaten Santa Clara 5-2 on their home courts.

When we hugged each other after the match, our family had just overcome a tough and difficult day. They had faced the challenges together, overcame it together, and succeeded together.

I couldn’t have been more proud.

Living the Dream,

Suzie

Life as an Assistant Coach

This has been one of the most gratifying years of my life, which is honestly a shock to me because I am not playing tennis competitively (the way I used to identify myself in the past).

I was always Suzie “the tennis player” or referred to as the girl on the tennis court. So, when I decided to become the Assistant Women’s tennis coach at Cal Poly State University, I never realized how much growing I would do as a person. But working with the team has taught me so much about myself,  in addition to working with such motivated ladies, and seeing them develop and grow into better tennis players and human beings. As a 23-year-old Assistant Coach, I have been given responsibilities that have challenged me to grow up quicker than I would have imagined, looking back to just last year as I was a player on this team. It has been an inspiring process and I want to share the experiences with other people who love tennis and are interested in learning about college tennis, so from now on until the season ends, I will keep you updated on my journey as an Assistant Coach.

With the season underway, life has been very busy. The Cal Poly Women’s tennis team, currently ranked 66 in the nation, have been traveling and on the go almost every weekend. We are 5-3 in dual matches, which is excellent considering our schedule. In the past month we have played 3 top 10 schools in the nation, including the past NCAA champions # 1 ranked Stanford, # 5 ranked Cal Berkeley, and #7 ranked UCLA. Most schools and teams would be intimidated with such a tough beginning season, but I believe our girls are thriving. Although we have lost all three of those matches, we have gained so much experience from it. I have learned so much from our players, including their resiliency, competitiveness, and their desire to improve. For the Cal Poly Mustangs, we have one goal this year: to be the most improved team in the nation. We may not have the talent that those top schools have, but we do have the work ethic and the love for the game. With this being said, I believe we can truly continue improving all season and become the most improved team out there.

In order to continue to improve, our girls strive to have consistent ACE scores (Attitude, Concentration, and Effort), a concept taken from our sports psychologist Jeff Trouche. It may seem like a simple plan, but to bring great attitude, 100% focus, and putting everything you have in each practice, lift, or match is very difficult. With such a young team this year (5 freshman, 2 sophomores, 1 junior, and 2 seniors) we try to focus on the basics each and everyday. How can we come out to practice with tons of energy, lots of vocal support, and ultimately get one day better everyday? In the matches so far, I realize the girls are incredibly tough and are doing so many things well. The challenge now is to play one more point tougher each game, as well as improving the basics — better first serve and return percentages. These subtle changes are going to add up and help us continue to thrive.

I know the season has started great and we are all motivated. The team is looking forward to continue to grow as tennis players, tennis coaches, as a family, and overall, as better people.

Living the dream,
Suzie