Stating a case for the game

Jan. 11, 2013 at 9:01 p.m.
Updated Jan. 10, 2013 at 7:11 p.m.

A very good friend of mine told me recently that his 11-year-old daughter had wanted to play tennis.

As a normal father would do, he took her to the tennis courts to hit balls with her. She hit the ball pretty well, had a natural slice backhand and showed some promise.

But what struck him the most is when she went to open the new cans of tennis balls. Every time she popped a can open, she held the can up to her nose to smell the fresh tennis balls. My friend, the father, looked at me and said, "Where did she get that from?" I looked at him and said, "Hey, some things in tennis you just don't teach. They figure it out on their own."

So, let's start an argument or a debate or a controversy or a vote or a call it what you will.

But what is the most physically and mentally demanding sport?

Let's start with football.

Obviously, it's very demanding physically. I was a wide receiver growing up, but I was small by football standards, and once I hit the eighth grade, I was getting crushed.

In baseball, I was a catcher, and loved it. We made it pretty far in All Stars every year. I had stitches, and now scars, to prove how much I loved it.

Both were team sports, but what bothered me the most was that even if I had a great game, we could still lose.

Don't get me wrong, I blew my share of games in both sports, but I had some great moments as well.

Now they say, and I will have to agree, the singular most difficult thing to do is hit a 95 mph fastball.

I believe golf is a very mentally tough sport. I love watching golf, it's terrific.

However, in each of these sports the common thread, or denominator is a coach advising (or telling) you what to do. Football, a coach, actually coaches (that's why the quarterback has the green dot on the back of his helmet). In baseball it's a manager and base coaches. Golf, a caddie who has already studied the course days before the golfer arrives.

Tennis is like horseback riding.

It's freedom.

Tennis is singular. No coaching. It's mental. The physical is hours and hours on the practice court. Not two a days or three a days.

At the highest level, all of the top 500 pros have all of the same shots. What sets them apart is who can produce and perform in the biggest moments at the highest level, on the biggest stage.

Someone recently told me they likened tennis to horseback riding. They both give you freedom she said. It's all about producing the best shots at the right time.

Robert Griffin III tweeted after the loss to The Seattle Seahawks that "many may criticize, but there are few that have been in the line of fire in battle." I agree with that statement wholeheartedly.

In tennis, it's a battle, mentally, physically and then some. And we train ourselves in both areas to be ready when that moment comes.

Philip Perez is the assistant head tennis professional at Victoria Country Club. He can be reached by email at



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