Inside Master Doubles with Legendary Gigi Fernandez: “The ultimate goal is to win, but never focus on winning.”

The first in a series of Master Doubles presentations by Gigi Fernandez, Tennis Hall of Famer, 17-time Grand Slam Champion and two-time Olympic Gold Medalist, was held at Chelsea Piers CT on Friday, October 23. In an intimate setting with open discussion, Gigi shared her elite method of playing doubles that assures proper positioning; correct court coverage; high-percentage shot selection and top-level strategy. Gathered around her was a group of women who play USTA & club league tennis, all eager to learn and take their game to the next level.

Smile. Communicate. At the end of the day, it’s a game and we are here to have fun.

This was an amazing opportunity for women who play tennis at all levels to connect with a tennis superstar one-on-one and gain knowledge only available to professional athletes. Gigi covered a multitude of subjects including: holding serve; mental game; unorthodox formations; approaching the line; and above all, setting goals and having an action plan.

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Don’t think about winning. Set goals that you can accomplish, and this will naturally end in a win.

Gigi suggested setting a goal before each game and keeping your focus on that one goal. Goals can be your personal areas of improvement or what you might be working on during practice. Here are a few simple goal-setting thoughts to consider:

Move your feet.

Hit at least one lob per game.

Come to the net.

Get your first serve in.

Get all the balls over the net.

Thinking of winning failed me every time. At a match in Australia I had the lead, and during the game started thinking that in a few points I will be calling my Dad and telling him about my victory. Well, I lost. It was devastating. But I learned my lesson to let go of winning and focus on what I needed to do to win.

The mental game was a key point of the discussion. Among many critical tips, here were some concepts for staying calm before and during the match:

Warm up. “If you can’t get to the gym before a match, run up and down the court. You may look ridiculous but it’s really up to you… Do you want to look good, or do you want to win?”

Practice positive self-talk. “Don’t let negativity bring you down. So often, games are won and lost not due to skill but because you couldn’t get out of your own head.”

Get your first serve in. “Don’t let your opponent develop an aggressive mindset on the second serve.”

If you’re feeling tight, tell your partner. “Hit the life out that ball for the first few points, so that you can relax and get into the game.”

Meditate. “Meditation changed my life. I had the biggest winning streak, taking multiple slams in a row, after I began meditating.”

Sit down during change-overs. “You have about 90 seconds between change-overs. Use some of that time to sit on the bench and clear your thoughts, similar to meditation. You will see a big difference when you get back into the game.”

There was lively discussion throughout, covering a wide array of topics of interest to the group. Gigi’s insightful counsel and advice was valued and appreciated by all in attendance. The session was a celebrated success!

This was the first meeting of the Master Doubles Series with Gigi Fernandez and more are to come throughout the year at Chelsea Piers CT. Don’t miss the next one! To be informed of upcoming events, follow Courtgirl Tennis Magazine here and on Twitter @cg_courtgirl . You can also contact the Tennis Club at Chelsea Piers CT to find out about getting on the list for a lesson with Gigi.

Go play!

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