Last week I posted some thoughts about Roddick's match against Federer. They were summed up with this line:
"Do what you do well and be self assured about it."
When I showed up for our summer league match against Lakeshore, Mikey Kelly was already there warming up with Ben Mast. He looked at me and said, "Matt, I'm Andy Roddick."
It was funny, because I was thinking about Mikey when I wrote my thoughts about Roddick, thinking that Mikey might benefit most from the italicized comment above. That Mikey needed to focus on what he did well and be confident about it. So I asked Mikey if he had read the article that I posted on the site, wondering if that was why he decided that he was Andy Roddick. Like most of my current team members, Mikey replied no.
So then I wondered what he was thinking. If it wasn't what I had posted about Roddick, what did it mean to Mikey to be Andy Roddick. Did it mean pounding 100 aces? Did it mean going for huge second serves? Did it mean pounding away at baseline groundstrokes? Did it mean wearing a hat and having his sweat pour off the bill? I didn't know.
In Mikey's match, then, he went on to play a player that had every advantage on him. The Lakeshore player if I was listing who had advantages in the following areas, it would go like this. Serve, no advantage. Both playeres had strong serves. But forehand, advantage Lakeshore. Backhand, advantage Lakeshore. Volley, advantage Mikey. Experience, advantage Lakeshore (he had played singles last year). All in all it looked like a tough match for Mikey to match up.
But I was so proud of Mikey. He used strengths that I didn't list in that summary of tennis skills above. He used his speed. He used his athleticism. He used a never-say-die attitude, even when down match point AND facing an overhead coming at him.
Besides that, he never got down on himself. He seemed confident even when trailing in both sets. Even after losing a tough first set tiebreak he didn't get down on himself. His head was up, and he was focused on the task at hand. Winning the next point, game, whatever. And nothing deterred him from that confidence.
In short, Mikey played like my description of Roddick: He used his strengths and was self assured about it.
I can't express how proud I am of Mikey. To me, this was not just some random Michigan league summer match. This was a statement. Mikey dealt with almost everything a match can throw at him: pressure points, match points, cramps, tiredness, heat, close sets, tiebreakers, and on and on. And his response was just like a Bethany player should respond.
He used his strengths and was confident about it.
I would have been proud of him even if he had lost. But I just wanted to give a public kudos to Mikey for his match. Mikey, you are such an asset to this team, and this match showed maturity and leadership. Not just in the way you played, but I also heard you encouraging #1 doubles next to you as there match was tight. If this sets the pattern for the season, we'll be successful, no matter what the records say...
...but I think they'll be good!