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Johan Kriek on Character in Tennis

As an owner/operator of an elite tennis academy in Charlotte, NC, I would like to talk about character. It matters the most in my book. We all make mistakes, but it is the person with character who realizes they have made a mistake and can fess up and truly feel sorry, say so, and apologize and try not to make the same mistake again. That is a person with good character.

Character also plays a huge role in becoming successful in tennis. It is so refreshing to see our kids listen and truly try new things which we coach all the time because tennis coaching is a step-by-step process with ever increasing demands in “execution” of shots as well as the building of maturity in the mental side of the game. Needless to say, there are so many “boxes” to check off to learn to play this game at the best of our ability, it takes a lot of time, huge effort, and dedication coupled with a limitless “thirst” to do better every day. It would be easy for me to try and focus on getting a “player” from the top ranks in the world. Would be a great “feather in my cap”, however, I truly enjoy seeing a kid start to bloom from a very early age and create their own “look” and build their tennis character. That, to me, is by far the most satisfying aspect of the academy business. I can’t wait to see where some of these 8-16 year olds will be in the next decade, etc.

So how does one break out of the “pack” of all these boys and girls playing ITF Futures and Challenger events, such as the older boys we are working with the past few weeks? There are thousands of very good players out there, all trying to make it on the ATP or the WTA tours. It takes one tough character to “stand out”. Having talent and weapons is great, but if you are not one tough character, talent will only take you so far. It is the person with a strong character who will leave no stone unturned to achieve their goals. Setbacks will be there, no doubt. Failures will pop up aplenty. Losing will make one feel like a failure. But it is the person with a strong-willed character, a never-say-die attitude, even if the odds seem overwhelming, that eventually makes it.

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About Johan Kriek

Johan Kriek is an internationally renowned tennis player and a contributor to the Tennis Frontier. He won the Australian Open in 1981 and 1982 and is currently the only professional player at his level who is dedicated to personally teaching students in the sport.
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