Competition reveals character

I wanted to drop you a note to thank you for the fantastic experience all four boys had that I brought across from the UK for the “Little Mo” International.

Although Jonny Burke was the only one of the four to make it through to the main draw the other three, Dan, Tay and Connor all had a truly unforgettable experience. Though there was some some whining at the format, the freezing temperature and the long days in the qualifying – I know they would all love the chance to do it again.

Hopefully the younger three will all be back again. Aside from the results and the matches, the kids and the parents learned so much. Lessons not just for the future of their kids tennis but about allowing them a childhood, participation in other sports, taking opportunities when they are offered.

Tennis in the USA is so, so different in the UK. I played some tennis on the European circuit/U.S. circuit but my best and most treasured memories are from playing college tennis in Texas. I made incredible friends for life and grew as a person and as a player, and I’m pleased to say all of my guys got a glimpse of another side of tennis. They all saw that you can be great sportsmen and be winners – and that it’s ok to show emotion and passion on court. And when the games over your opponent is not your enemy but can be your friend.

For those 4 boys the experience was invaluable and re-enforced what I said to them – competition reveals character. Everyone needs their own personality, game style, motivation to succeed as a tennis player. You do not have to be 6 foot 3 tall and be a serve and volleyer to succeed as a British tennis player. You don’t have to accept losing in the first round because no-one expects anymore. Jonny Burke has made up his mind that in 2007, he will return with a winner’s trophy so the experience has already had an enormous impact on British tennis! I dare say with his desire, intensity, guts and determination he may well succeed.

My thanks go out to you and your whole team for the massive effort you put into the whole event that none of us actually saw during the four days of competition. Please extend my thanks and gratitude to Thomas who did an awesome job as referee and official of the event. I think he did an unbelievable job in extremely tough circumstances and I don’t envy his position one little bit! He showed huge patience, organisation, composure with the all parents and coaches and such great empathy, compassion and care when dealing with the kids. I’m involved in running a ProAm event early in 2007 and I’ve suggested to the organiser he gets on the phone and sees how much we need to pay Thomas to come over to the UK and officiate!!!!!

Finally, to everyone who organised and took part in the opening ceremony, Maureen Connolly’s daughter is one of the most captivating and motivating speakers I’ve ever heard for adults and kids alike. To hear her speak with such passion, vibrancy and positivity got the event off to the best possible start. It was a long trip from the UK and until the opening ceremony I think the parents I had brought with me were starting to question the sanity of my decision to make the trip – but her speech saved the day!

I look forward to seeing you guys again next year perhaps with a similar group of players but for certain with a group of players with hopefully a little more of a ‘winning’ attitude. On the whole my perception of the difference between tennis in the two countries is that the kids in the U.S. are winners before they set foot on court because of the difference in attitude.

Kindest Regards,
Harriet Chapman
Head Performance Coach
Caunton LTC, Nottinghamshire, UK