Well, we are in the championship match. It was scheduled for Saturday night but weather forced it to be moved to Sunday. The men have their semifinals Saturday, and it appears they may move to Monday for the men's finals.

I think you see what I have said in various post cards all week that Grand Slam tennis is not for the faint at heart.

Thinking back over my 30 years in pro sports, having traveled with many pro teams in all major sports, as well as spending weeks in boxing training camps all over the world, much less the years of travel for Serena Williams, I have seen more than my share of ups and down in the non-heroic world of pro sports. What I have learned and experienced first-hand would fill volumes. Each volume filedl with emotional memories. Some I would like to forget.

Having had the opportunity to participate in many championship games, matches and series in team sports like the NFL, MLB, NHL, and the NBA, and in individual matchups like championship boxing WTA tennis, the mental game is the unseen aspect of sports that is rarely appreciated.

Whether a team event or an individual matchup here at the U.S. Open, the competition usually comes down to which team or athlete breaks down first mentally. As Richard Williams, Serena's dad, has said before, "when you are out there, you are all alone with your opponent."

As of this writing I am heading out on the U.S. Open shuttle to our night match which probably will be delayed due to rain earlier in the day. It is a perfect time to reflect on what I said in an earlier post card regarding timing. It does not always work the way it was intended.

The same can be said about playing sports like tennis in a pain-free setting. Most tennis-related injuries are classified as overuse injuries causing micro trauma to the muscles and joints most often challenged by the demands of the game.

My father, a captain who fought against the Japanese and Germans in World War II as a company commander, awarded only one silver star. It was to the supply sergeant who gave gave the company the bullets it needed to kill the enemy and the food the soldiers needed to have the energy to fight.

In the non-heroic world of pro sports, the ability to recover between practice sessions and multiple matches, such as what is happening over a two-week period at the U.S. Open, may make the difference between winning and losing. Last year at this event rained delayed our semifinal match until a 10 p.m. start and Serena Williams had to come back the next day and play for the championship.

I know you have heard it said that, in life, timing can be everything. Well, in pro sports such as tennis, it is the only thing. Take for instance the playing surface. The NBA has hardwood courts, and the NFL, MLB and pro soccer play on grass and turf. Moving through the Grand Slams in tennis, players go from a hard-court surface (Australian Open), to a clay court (French Open) then on to grass (Wimbledon) and back to a hard court (U.S. Open).

Mackie Spotlight

EJGH’s very own Mackie Shilstone, Executive Director of the Fitness Principle, is in New York working with Serena Williams as she goes for another U.S. Open title. As Williams’s Fitness Coach, Mackie will be part of the team preparing her for matches throughout the tournament. To give everyone a behind-the-scenes look at how Williams prepares for every opponent, Mackie is writing a daily postcard for Nola.com detailing all the day’s happenings. Check back daily for updates. 

http://s.nola.com/GDYlvhQ-NOLA.com 8/22/13

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