Easter Challenge

 glowing sun among sparse clouds

A new day awaits.

Easter/Passion Challenge

Every year it seems the challenge of ‘celebrating’ the true meaning of Easter/Passion gets harder and harder.

How?

I remember Easter as a time when Friday was a solemn day – the day Christ was crucified. As I grew older and understood the deeper implications of what crucifixion meant,and the agony that went with it, my faith deepened.

Following Saturday came Sunday, a day of celebration. The wonder of Jesus being raised from the dead by God, our Father. The fulfilling of 600 year old prophecies. A deep sense of peace and joy growing within me, as I read the biblical/historical accounts growing in my belief in the future Jesus has waiting for believers.

Today, each year at this time, the easter bunny appears in malls all over the country. Kids have easter egg hunts and eat chocolate eggs and bunnies. Egg rolling contests are held – even at the White House. This year (2017) it is even being streamed live for whoever wants to follow it.

The challenge at Easter is to separate the true meaning of Easter from the attention getting easter bunny, coloring eggs, candy, and egg rolling contests as well as easter egg hunts,etc. I don’t hear the greeting, ‘He is risen’, on Sunday’s any more. It seems hidden away.

True Meaning of Easter

The true meaning of Easter: the most important and oldest festival of the Christian Church, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ and held (in the Western Church) between March 21 and April 25, on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the northern spring equinox.

In today’s fast paced communication based technology, there doesn’t seem to be much time given to reflection on the true meaning of Easter. It is rather more about getting the kids picture with the easter bunny in the mall, or planning an easter egg hunt for all the kids in the neighborhood, or just having a chocolate egg/bunny/jelly beans hunt in the house or yard.

I’m not against any of these activities. My wife and I bought the kits and dyes that go along with hard boiled eggs, crafting many a mind boggling work of art with our kids (tongue in cheek). We also had chocolate egg and bunny hunts Easter morning. We never did participate in the mall picture with the easter bunny. Why? I guess it seemed to betray the inner faith we both in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.

I know the traditions. Egg rolling contests are symbolic of rolling the stone from Jesus tomb. The easter bunny can be symbolic of new life as they have huge litters. Eggs are symbolic of new life and breaking them open can symbolize new birth as a believer in Jesus.

Conclusion

I don’t have a problem, personally, with the easter bunny, eggs, chocolate bunnies, coloring eggs, or egg rolling contests and egg hunts. It doesn’t affect my faith. It can add a positive flavor to the central meaning of Easter. I do think it is a challenge to those growing up in today’s world. The true meaning of Easter seems to have taken a back seat to these other activities. What do you think?

 

 

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Winning and Responsibility

Winning and Responsibility

Winning and responsibility go hand-in-hand to those willing to improve their playing level or ranking.

Winning

Everyone (well, almost everyone) wants either to be a winner or be associated with a winner. What is a winner in tennis? Well, it is the player who enters a tournament knowing it is a competition where only one player (two if doubles) can end up with the winning trophy or prize money.

We all see it on TV or experience it at a spectator competition. It is like two gladiators in an arena where only one will survive. Which one will you identify with, the winner, or the loser. In most cases it will be the winner.

How does responsibility enter into the equation of winning?

Responsibility

Entering into the beginning stages of competitive tournament play begins a process of growth. That growth is dependent on the competitor’s ability to access and learn from those experiences.

Let’s look at the definition of responsibility to see how it applies to winning:

  1. the state or fact of having a duty to deal with something or of having control over someone.
  2. the state or fact of being accountable or to blame for something.
  3. the opportunity or ability to act independently and make decisions without authorization.

A player has to take responsibility for winning or losing. In the beginning of learning how to compete that means learning how to lose (take responsibility). In the process of accepting that loss, the player grows in knowledge and control of their knowledge and emotions. As they grow in accepting their accountability, they apply that to future matches. As they continue to grow in these two areas, there comes a time when they have enough experience and control over their emotions to win more than they lose.

With winning comes acceptance, or rejection. Yes, some players actually reject within themselves the aspect of becoming a winner. With winning comes “pressure”  to win some more. If a player is not willing to accept that and embrace it, then the alternative is to lose and find a way to excuse the lose, over and over again. The comment made by Jimmy Connors is appropriate here: “I started to win when I got tired of losing.”

Conclusion

What is your assessment of winning and responsibility? If you don’t enjoy the arena of competition perhaps you won’t relate to this. Maybe it is in the arena of business – you will find the same application. Are you willing to work for someone else who assumes the responsibility of the business, or are you willing to step out and start your own? Neither is right or wrong.

 

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Withdraw or Play With Injury?

Withdraw or Play With Injury?

Retire with injury

In any professional tournaments there is prize money. The amount of the prize money is divided up depending on which round the player gets to, the final having the most money for winning.

There are a thousand players on the circuit who ‘need’ the first round money in a Grand Slam tournament to pay living expenses. When they make it through the qualifying rounds into the first round of the main draw, many times there is a price to pay physically. Even players who have qualified, through their ranking to be in the main draw, are playing with pain and injuries. Their bodies have had to stand up to the physical trauma of playing match after match under stress.

If they are injured and aren’t able to compete what should they do? Ironically, the right thing to do would be to withdraw and give their position to a lucky loser. That would mean they wouldn’t collect the first round prize money (around $40,000USD at the US OPEN).

However, if they should opt to play injured they risk that injury getting worse, which would take them out of competing subsequent events which would reflect on their world ranking. The answer, would be to retire after a few games, get the prize money for first round and have time to recover for the next tournament.

Withdraw with injury

Andy Murray has come up with a solution, which may, or may not work. If a player withdraws, instead of retiring, before the first round begins, he still gets paid the first round money. This would allow a lucky loser to take his place and have a shot at second round prize money if he won.

Conclusion

Playing injured, then retiring, is getting more and more attention from the tournament directors and spectators. It especially affects the spectators who do not get a refund of their ticket when a player retires due to injury. Perhaps Andy Murray’s suggestion should be put into effect as a test case in one or two tournaments. Feedback from both players and spectators would be beneficial in going forward.

What would you do if you had a choice between withdrawing and NOT getting the first round money, or playing 4 or 5 games, then retiring, so you are insured to receive your money?

 

 

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Australian Open Tennis Prize Money

Australian Open Tennis Prize Money

Prize money has increased 65% from 2012 to 2016 and has again increased another 14% from 2016 to 2017. Australian Open will pay out 50 million (Australian currency) in prize money in 2017.

Yearly Players Expense

Expenses can vary greatly on the pro tour depending largely on the players ranking and the location of the tournaments chosen. A conservative estimate would be in the range of $100,00.00 (US) per year. This would include entry fees, accommodations, food, travel, and equipment expense. A lower estimate would probably not include a coach, physical therapist, etc. The higher end paid out by the higher ranked players could enter the range of millions of dollars with their entourage.

Increase in Prize Money is Meaningful

This increase is more meaningful to those players struggling to meet the six figure yearly expenses. The increase in singles first round prize money from $34,500 (2016) to $50,000 (2017) does much to take the pressure off  by achieving one-half of their average yearly expenses. On the players side the more expenses are met the more focus they can put on their training and performance, relieving the mental anxiety of ‘having’ to win to make expenses. While the higher ranked players have higher expenses their reward is invested  more in actually winning the tournament.

Australian Open Leading the Way in Increase

The Australian Open is the first Grand Slam of the Year, thus setting a precedent for the following Grand Slam events; the French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open. As the amount of prize money increases year after year, I wonder where the ending point will be? Obviously it is worth it to the sponsors to continue to increase the bottom line.

Conclusion

There are about 1500 professional tennis players on each tour – men’s and women’s. Of these only two get to the final of the Grand Slam events. At the Australian Open the pay out that affects the first round players will be meaningful to more players in the early rounds.  Even the qualifying will be increased to singles first round qualifying loser receiving $6,250.00(Australian).  The Australian Open Singles Champion will be more about the title than the money, although the money helps to ensure the quality of the entourage going forward. Hopefully, this increase in prize money will make it possible for those lower level players to find a higher level of success.

 

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Use Twitter or Facebook? Pro Tennis Players

Use Twitter or Facebook? Pro Tennis Players

When comparing professional tennis players statistics on Twitter and Facebook, it would seem personalities and lifestyles influence which one the player prefers. Some players have more followers on Twitter versus Facebook and some have more Facebook followers than on Twitter.

Twitter

Serena Williams and Andy Roddick have far  more followers on Twitter than Facebook. Juan Martin del Poltro and Stan Warinka have more Twitter followers than on Facebook, but not as big a difference as Williams and Roddick. It would appear the biggest reason is their lifestyle and personality. They prefer the interaction of Twitter over that of Facebook. Tweeting after winning or losing matches gives fans immediate feedback on their players experiences, which seems to suit these players personalities and lifestyles.

In a previous blog I referred to the betting crowd and how negatively they tweeted when their player lost. The players listed here would fall into the category of winning more matches and tournaments than losing, thus possibly not opening themselves up to large numbers of negative tweets. The personalities of these players are also conducive to tweeting more about what is happening in their lives. They seem to tweet much more often and their followers increase accordingly.

Facebook

Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and Maria Sharapova dominate in their Facebook followers. versus their Tweet followers. They do update their fan pages on Facebook from time to time but their postings on these fan pages on Facebook are not as prevalent as those that tweet. This seems to provide more stability to their followers/fans. These updates, sometimes accompanied with video, also allow comments from the fan base and allow a longer interaction period than tweets. The players personalities and lifestyles would seem allow a more protective side to their private lives, while still providing interaction with their followers that supports their image and business interests.

Conclusion

Twitter has about one-fifth the users of Facebook. Facebook fans spend an average of 25-30 minutes on Facebook compared to approximately 8 minutes on twitter. Another point is that a tweet does not last as long. It is here and gone with the tweeter moving on with their followers leaving those present tweets in the past. In today’s age of social media interacting with professional tennis players, it is interesting to match up the statistics of player’s usage of either Twitter and Facebook. In most cases other than those discussed above, the followers almost even out with a slight advantage to Facebook.

Analyzing your personality and lifestyle, would you rather interact with Twitter or Facebook in your social media presence?

 

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Facebook-Affects Professional Tennis

Facebook-Affects Professional Tennis

Facebook has a huge impact on professional tennis – on the players, on the fans, on the professional tournaments, and on the various businesses associated with the sport. In the third quarter of this year Facebook listed 1.79 billion active users on a monthly basis in 2016.

Facebook and the players

Any tennis professional can create a player page.

The professional tennis players with the most likes on Facebook are:

#1 Maria Sharapova 15,497,777 likes

#2 Rafael Nadal 14,693,292 likes

#3 Roger Federer 14,552,388 likes

#4 Novak Djokovic 7,216,289 likes

#5 Serena Williams 4,953,674 likes

Interesting how at #7 is Anna Kournikova with 3,419,774 likes. She had to retire in 2007 due to injuries, but has still retained a high visibility with her Facebook page, thus showing the impact Facebook can have on a players career, even after retiring.

Facebook and the Fans

When a player such as Roger Federer has a Facebook page fans can link up to it and participate in the time line as well. As the player posts about a tournament or a ‘cameo’ in his/her post the fans can take note and share it with their friends and family. Fans become a part of the player they are identifying with. It brings a ‘luster’ to their own lives as they see their hero succeed or fail in their endeavors. Without this facebook interaction fans could not have the in-depth knowledge facebook provides.

Facebook and Profesional Tennis Tournaments

Professional tennis tournaments such as Indian Wells Tennis Garden can also have a facebook page which gives them wide exposure to the tennis population. Having this provides a venue to publicize players coming to the tournament and the businesses associated with the tournament. Players post about the tournament on their own timelines. This only adds to the excitement and participation of the fans in the tournament. The more successful the tournament the better it is for the players, fans, and the tournament sponsor as well.

Facebook and the Sponsors

Sponsors such as Nike can also have a Facebook page. This serves to publicize the tournament, the players equipment, and only adds to their exposure and sales. When they post pictures of the player(s) endorsing their equipment it is amazing to think of the population Facebook reaches.

Conclusion

There is no comparison with present day Facebook and non-Facebook days. Facebook provided visibility, in terms of a player’s profile, fans interacting with their favorite players, tournament publicity and sponsors selling their product. It is available to all and can even be used to ‘set up’ a player’s career after their playing days are over.

If you were a world class player would you manage your Facebook account yourself of hire a management company. Remember, once it is open to the public there is no taking it back.

 

 

 

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Twitter Affects Professional Tennis

Twitter Affects Professional Tennis

Twitter affects professional tennis in both a positive and negative way.

Positives

Signing up for a twitter account immediately gives the player access to the outer world of spectators and fans, which affects their image. For example, with the recent Hurricane Mathew, a player who tweeted a donation, either in money, or time, or ‘siding with the victims’, would be perceived in a positive light. To better illustrate this, more in line with a players ‘on court’ matches, a player who exudes a positive attitude towards the ballboys, chair umpire, and spectators would further his self-image and possibly, develop a larger following. A tweet with positive vibes for the athlete’s sponsored clothing, shoes, or racket would go far in attracting other sponsors and be positive publicity for his own sponsors. Along with twitter is a players picture. The picture alone can elicit positive reactions, with the player looking athletic, alert and personable.

Negatives

The latest negative result of how twitter can affect a players image is Nick Krygios. Not only was he suspended for 8 weeks (so far he has not agreed to the counseling offer which would drop it to 3), but he lost approximately $40,000.00 in fines, and a Malasia Airlines sponsor.  Krygios is such a talented player and fun to watch, but not when he is disrespectful to spectators (who pay to watch), and his sponsors (who pay for his endorsement of their product) by displaying unattractive character traits. Even after apologizing with a tweet his ensuing behavior did not seem to indicate a ‘humbler’ Nick Krygios. He is still only 21 and after two of these ‘sanctions’ hopefully will respond and turn to a more positive image on court and on Twitter.

Conclusion

Twitter is a force to be reckoned with when professional athletes sign up for an account. Tennis players are perceived as both intelligent and informed. How they word their tweets (picture included) ‘to the world’ can improve their publics and sponsors perception of them.

How would you handle your twitter account if you were a successful professional tennis player (athlete)? Would you hire a publicist or do it yourself?

 

 

 

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Social Media Affects Professional Tennis

 Social Media Affects Professional Tennis

Social media has both a positive and a negative affect on professional tennis. In assessing their joining up with social media such as facebook, twitter and instagram, professional tennis players are opening themselves up to interaction with their fan base, or, the unsavory arena of the ‘gambler’. This can have either a positive or negative feedback, many times depending on the result of the day – winning or losing.

Winning

The saying goes, ‘everyone loves a winner’ and it is true in both cases cited above. The fans of a particular tennis player and those who place bets on the same player are both positively reinforced when their player wins. The fans get to tell their friends how they are aligned with a winner and the gambler gets to collect his/her winnings. Both are winners.

Losing

The saying also goes, ‘everyone hates a loser’. This also tends to be true in both cases. Those fans who have their favorite player lose also tend to feel the effects of losing and ‘take it to heart’. The gambler has a much stronger sense of losing as it is, ‘money out of his/her pocket’. In some (many?) cases, money they don’t have.

There are other applications of a professional tennis players results that are affected. Their endorsements and appearance fees. The more positive a player is perceived the more money they are paid for endorsements, or appearance fees. An appearance fee is paid up front to the athlete to appear/play at a particular tournament. This is paid regardless of the players results in that tournament. Obviously, if they do well in the tournament they make that money as well. However, the appearance fee is paid to advertise the players participation which attracts paid spectators. As far as the endorsement fees paid by sponsors the more positive the social media perceives a player, the more sales are made by the sponsor which results in higher fees paid to the player.

Conclusion

Professional tennis players have the option of either signing up or not signing up for social media. Signing up means opening up to a world of positives and negatives – the negatives even going so far as death threats. Athletes go through stages of success and failure. Tennis players are no different. Depending on the country they come from and their exposure to the social population their results can have a greater or lesser effect on their personal lives. This can certainly affect their personal ‘world view’ and either add or detract from their continued performance in the world of professional tennis.

Would you sign up on social media if it meant going so far as receiving ‘death threats’?

 

 

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Fatigue-Tanking in Tennis

Fatigue-Tanking in Tennis

Emotional or/and physical fatigue can be linked to tanking in tennis. Fatigue can be defined as extreme tiredness, typically resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness. Tanking is defined as losing a match on purpose; or to purposely lose a non-vital set, so as to focus energy and attention on a match deciding set.

Fatigue

With the recent Kyrgios match in our minds, where he was fined and may face suspension, fatigue is a factor that should be considered. While Kyrgios did not handle his match and spectator situation with diplomacy, he is young and growing every day in his ability to handle life situations that come at him. His learning curve is huge right now as he tries to figure out who and where he is in life. Should he have a coach. Should he continue to play tennis when he considers a career in another sport. However, in the present, he has made great strides in his upward mobility with regard to his ranking and success in recently winning a major tournament. To do all this requires a price to be paid on his part. Factored in is the fatigue-both emotional and physical he has gone through to reach this place. Given the huge effort he has made in training, playing, traveling, etc. it seems to have come to a head on the tennis court in this particular match. How he handled it was not gracious, or mature. However, perhaps he should be given a break on the suspension due to his inexperience in handling this. He has shown growth and learning in previous sanctions. Each one is bigger and draws more attention as he accelerates his own personal best.

Tanking

Tanking is taken seriously at the professional (even the amateur) level. When the finances are added up at the end of a tournament it should show black, not red. Spectators pay to watch the professionals play. A knowledgeable crowd understands when a player is subjected to fatigue and are willing to put up with it as long as an effort is put out by the player, even though sub-standard. Kyrgios is fun to watch. He is talented, movement blessed, and makes it look easy at times. Because of his upward movement in ranking and the visibility that comes with it, Kyrgios is held to a higher standard. Perhaps fatigue entered at the wrong moment and he didn’t handle it in the right way. I would suggest putting him on notice, as they did before, and on further occurrence, follow through with a suspension. I hope this isn’t the case as I enjoy watching him as a player and a person who is growing up through tennis.

Conclusion

Tanking is not in ‘good taste’ in tennis. However, circumstances vary and each case should be considered in light of a players record, experience and personality. We all learn through life experiences. In my day character growth was, and I hope is, to be desired. As long as a player makes mistakes along the way and recovers in a way that is positively perceived as character growth, I say, let’s cut him a break and give him a chance to show us he has learned a life lesson. What are your thoughts on the subject?

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Choosing a Doubles Partner

Choosing a Doubles Partner

There are mental,emotional and physical personality traits to consider when choosing a doubles partner. Combining them together with your traits could result in a good or bad doubles combination.

Mental

Does your partner plan the points out or do they prefer to react to the situation. If you are a planner and treat the match as you would a chess game, you might prefer a player of the same mentality. If you don’t like to overthink your strategy and prefer to ‘ad-lib’ or ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ you probably would not like to have your partner analyze each point or game and pre-plan.

Emotional

Does your partner keep everything inside, does not want to be interrupted during the match and plays point after point without talking or discussing what is happening? Or, does your partner talk incessantly and interrupt your train of thought. Communication is key in good doubles. That doesn’t mean you should have a partner that never talks or one that never stops talking. It simply means you should feel comfortable with each others approach and find a common ground.

Physical

Does your partner cover the whole court, including your side? Or, do they constantly shout, “yours’ and want you to cover the whole court. Again, there is no right or wrong, but foot speed and movement is a big part of the game and you need to agree on what to cover. There is not a lot of time during the point to communicate so much of this has to be intrinsic to each players interpretation of what is happening on the court. The physical attributes of each player must be taken into account also. One players ability to serve big and another’s to return big would determine who serves first in the set(s) and which side to return serve from when the other team is serving.

Conclusion

In choosing a partner take into account the mental, emotional, and physical attributes of your ‘would be’ partner. Play a set or two together to see how you get along. You may find you match up on paper, but the chemistry isn’t there on court. Sometimes the most unlikely player ends up being the one you play best as a team with.

What has been your experience.

 

 

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