Samantha may have recently finished as the group 1 champ in the Regents Park League, but she hasn't always had this success on the match court. She explains how she has learned to change her mindset to conquer her fear of playing singles matches
I first started playing tennis at 11 on a holiday in South Africa. I had a couple of lessons with a local coach who entered me into a junior tournament while over there which I won! He was really encouraging and told me I had a lot of potential and that I should find a good coach to train me when I returned to England.
When I came to London, I hadn’t picked up a racket for 15 years. I found some courts at Regent’s Park and started hitting again and really enjoyed it, but after playing a couple of matches I realised I completely lost my nerve on the court in a match scenario! People said I just needed to play more matches, but it’s hard to find the time for entering tournaments. When I heard about the leagues it was the perfect solution to play friendly matches without the travel and time commitments of tournaments.
I’m a hard hitter with aggressive ground strokes but I don’t actually enjoy singles, due to the pressure of being out there in your own. I much prefer doubles, but by playing more singles I am trying to change that mindset.
By playing in the league I have learned to handle nerves in match scenarios and deal with the pressure points. I have managed to conquer my phobia of playing singles matches and finally be able to win! Tennis is such a mental game. If you learn to control your mind on the court, you can apply this to other areas of life.
The league is a great way to play other adults in matches around your own schedule and in your own area - you don’t have to worry about stroppy juniors, LTA ratings or week-long competitions where the matches are usually scheduled during the working day!
The next round in Regents Park kicks off on 23rd May and is open for entries here.