Friday, July 17, 2009

On the Tunney Side of the Street, #238, July 20, 2009

After Further Review … Andy Roddick withdrew from the U.S. Davis Cup T.E.A.M.’s quarterfinals played the week following Wimbledon. Roddick, who lost to Roger Federer in the 132nd All-England Club Championships 5-7, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5), 3-6, 16-14, strained his right hip flexor muscle in the 8th game of the 4th set.

If you watched that match, lasting 4 hours and 16 minutes, you may have noticed that Roddick slipped as he scrambled back to position after returning a ball. Roddick’s feet went out from under him causing him to go down; then he laid there for a few moments, but got up grimacing. He won the next game and that set at 6-3. Roddick continued to play 30 more games, losing to Federer 16-14 in a fifth set.

That physical endurance marathon was the longest fifth set in a major final dating back to 1927. Roddick endured 107 “winners,” including 50 “aces” by Federer - one shy of a Wimbledon record. It’s staggering to play that long with that intensity and not sustain an injury. What is even more staggering is that Roddick played 31 games after his injury; which brings me to the question: Do you have the courage to continue on in your job, your sport, or whatever when faced with a difficulty? Does the word “quit” come to mind?

In my book, “It’s the Will, Not the Skill,” we say, “There’s no ‘quit’ in my dictionary” and “You only ‘quit’ when you retire.” Having been on-the-field with athletes for more than 50 years, I observed how their ‘sticktoitivity’ (made-up word!) i.e., perseverance wouldn’t let them quit.

Frank Sinatra sings in his epic “That’s Life” that “many times I wanted to quit, but my heart just wouldn’t buy it.” And that’s what it really is – HEART! There are times in life when we face a “set back,” or get knocked down or just wanna give up; but our mettle – call it “guts” – just won’t let us. As I speak with young people (kids), they often see no hope – no future. They hear too much negativity from friends, parents, and the media. With a strained hip flexor hurting on every shot, Roddick (age 22) said, “At that point, like everything else, there are two options: you lay down or you keep going. The second option sounded better to me.”

Will you help others – as well as yourself – by choosing the second option as Roddick did?

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