Friday, June 29, 2012

Smart as a Fox: Psychologist to discuss stress

   At the club level, at least, it really doesn't matter who wins tennis matches.
   Nobody dies, loses his or her job or flunks out of school.
   So why do we act as if winning matters so much?
   Why do we swear or drop, even throw, our racket when we miss an easy shot? Why do we choke on key points?
   "Unfortunately, wanting to win is part of our wiring," renowned tennis psychologist and author Allen Fox explained Thursday. "We like to win, even though it's not important. The problem is that the outcome in all sports is uncertain. It makes it very stressful. ... Stress makes it hard to perform."
   Fox, 73, will discuss stress and other psychological issues in tennis tonight at 5:30 at the Gorin Tennis Academy, 8970 Carriage Drive, in the Sacramento suburb of Granite Bay. The public is invited to attend at $10 per person.
   A former NCAA singles (1961) and doubles (1960) champion at UCLA, Fox reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals in 1965 and coached the Pepperdine men from 1979 to 1995. He earned a Ph.D. from UCLA and has written four books, most recently "Tennis: Winning the Mental Match" (www.allenfoxtennis.net, also for consulting) in 2010.
   Fox coaches Igor Kunitsyn, a 5-foot-11 Russian who reached a career-high No. 35 in the world in 2009, and works with two other professionals whom he politely declined to name.
   So how can tennis players reduce stress?
   "The first trick is to understand the problem and not let nature take its course," Fox said. "What causes the trouble is people don't do anything about stress. They let their emotions take over. The trick is recognizing this beforehand."
   Fox recommends "focusing on rituals rather than winning and losing" and deep breathing. The rituals, he added, occur between points.
   "Show no emotion about the last point, whether you hit a great shot or missed an easy one. Let it go by. Take a deep breath and relax while you're walking into position to return serve. Just before the next point, get somewhat excited, such as by slapping your thigh, so you're ready to move quickly," Fox said.
   "Review what you need to do: short backswing, weight foreward ... Then put all your focus on the ball being tossed and watching the ball come off the court on your side."
   Fox distinguishes between practice and matches.
   "Practice is for habit development," he said. "Repetition strengthens habit. When you're competing, it's emotion control."  
   Club players will vouch for that.
 WIMBLEDON RESULTS
(Players with Northern California ties only)
Men's second-round singles
   Mardy Fish (10), Tampa, Fla., def. James Ward, Britain, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-3.
   Sam Querrey, Las Vegas, vs. Milos Raonic (21), Canada, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (7), 3-3, susp.
Men's first-round doubles
   Scott Lipsky (ex-Stanford All-American), Huntington Beach, and Rajeev Ram, Carmel, Ind., def. Paul Hanley, Australia, and Mark Knowles (Capitals), Bahamas, 3-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5.
   Sanchai and Sonchat Ratiwatana, Thailand, def. Sergiy Stakhovsky, Ukraine, and Dmitry Tursunov, Russia, 6-7 (3), 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Women's first-round doubles
   Raquel Kops-Jones (ex-Cal All-American), Fresno, and Abigail Spears (10), San Diego, def. Nina Bratchikova, Russia, and Anna Tatishvili, Georgia, 6-3, 6-4.
   Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (8), Czech Republic, def. Vania King, Boynton Beach, Fla., and Yasmin Schnack (Capitals), Elk Grove, 6-4, 6-1. (Schnack made her Grand Slam debut.)
First-round mixed doubles
   Dominic Inglot and Laura Robson, Britain, def. Scott Lipsky (ex-Stanford All-American), Huntington Beach, and Natalie Grandin, South Africa, 7-6 (2), 6-4. 
WIMBLEDON TV SCHEDULE
(All times PDT)
   Today -- Early rounds, ESPN, 4 a.m.-2 p.m. (live). Wimbledon Primetime, Tennis Channel, 2 p.m. (premiere), 6 p.m. (repeat), 10 p.m. (repeat).
   Saturday -- Early rounds, 5 a.m.-noon, ESPN (live). Wimbledon Primetime, Tennis Channel, 2 p.m. (premiere), 6 p.m. (repeat), 10 p.m. (repeat).  
   Sunday -- No matches scheduled. Wimbledon Primetime (first-week highlights), Tennis Channel, 1 p.m. (premiere), 5 p.m. (repeat), 9 p.m. (repeat). 
   Monday -- Fourth round, Courts 1 & 2 and outer courts, ESPN2, 4 a.m.-2 p.m. (live), Centre Court, ESPN, 5 a.m.-noon (live). Wimbledon Primetime, Tennis Channel, 2 p.m. (premiere), 6 p.m. (repeat), 10 p.m. (repeat).
   Tuesday, July 3 -- Women's quarterfinals, Courts 1 & 2, ESPN2, 4 a.m.-1 p.m. (live), Centre Court, ESPN, 5-10 a.m. (live). Wimbledon Primetime, Tennis Channel, 2 p.m. (premiere), 6 p.m. (repeat), 10 p.m. (repeat).
   Wednesday, July 4 -- Men's quarterfinals, Courts 1 & 2, ESPN2, 4 a.m.-1 p.m. (live), Center Court, ESPN, 5 a.m.-noon (live). Wimbledon Primetime, Tennis Channel, 2 p.m. (premiere), 6 p.m. (repeat), 10 p.m. (repeat).
   Thursday, July 5 -- Women's semifinals, ESPN, 5-10 a.m. (live). Wimbledon Primetime, Tennis Channel, 2 p.m. (premiere), 6 p.m. (repeat), 10 p.m. (repeat).
   Friday, July 6 -- Men's semifinals, ESPN, 5-11 a.m. (live). Wimbledon Primetime, Tennis Channel, 2 p.m. (premiere), 6 p.m. (repeat), 10 p.m. (repeat).
   Saturday, July 7 -- Women's final, ESPN, 6-11 a.m. (live), ABC, noon-3 p.m. (repeat), Wimbledon Primetime, Tennis Channel, 4 p.m. (premiere), 8 p.m. (repeat), midnight (repeat).
   Sunday, July 8 -- Men's final, ESPN, 6 a.m.-noon (live), ABC, noon-3 p.m. (repeat). Wimbledon Primetime, Tennis Channel, 4 p.m. (premiere), 8 p.m. (repeat), midnight (repeat).
CALENDAR  
   THROUGH-JULY 8 -- WIMBLEDON, www.wimbledon.com.
   Friday -- Renowned tennis psychologist and author Allen Fox speaks at 5:30 p.m. at the Gorin Tennis Academy, 8970 Carriage Drive, Granite Bay (Sacramento area), public invited ($10), (916) 797-8444.
   July 7-10 -- West Coast Junior Championships, Rio Del Oro Racquet Club, 119 Scripps Dr., Sacramento, www.norcal.usta.com.
   July 7-15 -- WTA, Bank of the West Classic, Stanford University, www.bankofthewestclassic.com.
   July 9 -- World TeamTennis, Sacramento Capitals' season opener at Boston, 4 p.m., www.saccaps.com.
   July 12 -- World TeamTennis, Capitals' home opener (with Mardy Fish) vs. Kansas City, Sunrise Marketplace Stadium, Sunrise Mall in Citrus Heights, 7:35 p.m., www.saccaps.com.
   July 12 -- 2012 Northern California Tennis Hall of Fame Brunch and Induction Ceremony (Nick Saviano, Andrea Norman, Steve Cornell and Martha Downing), Stanford University, Pac 12 Plaza/Cardinal Plaza, 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., tickets $75 each at http://www.acteva.com/booking.cfm?bevaid=230538.
   July 28-Aug. 5 -- OLYMPIC TENNIS TOURNAMENT, Wimbledon, www.london2012.com.

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