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***I thought a lot about how this would be any different from the Monday Meditation. The best I could come up with is, if the Monday Meditation is to present food for thought and get other’s opinions, this is more to share with you what I THINK I’ve learned in the world. It’s also food for thought, and maybe you have opinions about it, but I like to think of this as my own advice/old woman’s column.

Today’s title is: Life is like a Tennis Tournament (in honor of the Australian Open).

Life is like a tennis tournament. There are certain concessions and governing rules that, if followed, with a little belief and hard work, along with preparation and perspiration, can ensure that you go fair, maybe even win. Here are a few that I’ve gathered from a couple of weeks of tennis:

1. Carry extra rackets and lots of balls. Sometimes changing the racket or the ball can change your energy and flow of the game. You can’t change the fact that tennis is played with a racket and ball, but you can change which kind you play with and how you use it. If the game isn’t going well, maybe a new racket is all you need, one that has more strings, tighter strings, a more aerodynamic head–whatever compliments the way you play the game, you can use it.

2. When you have nothing, you have love. Each time you have a new game, you start with love–love is the beginning. There are no zeros in tennis scores. What the eye sees as zero the announcers call love. Sometimes all you have is love, and that’s fine, to begin with. Everyone starts at love; it’s a good place to begin.

3. This game is all about position and placement. Your position dictates whether or not you can return a ball, whether you can reach a ball before it’s dead. Where you place a ball determines whether your opponent can return or if you have a clear winner. You have to be in a position to place things where you mean for them to be, where they will be the most effective.

4. Sometimes you just have to stay in the point and wait for your opportunities for winners/ opponent’s errors. You can’t always dictate the play or the pace of the point. Sometimes you are on the defensive; all you can do is respond to where your opponent places the ball. But you can’t give up. Sometimes, if you manage to hang around long enough, your opponent will make a mistake, or you will get the chance to step up and hit the winner up the line.

5. Just because you lose the game or set doesn’t mean you’ve lost the match. Even if you get down to the wire, you can still pull it out if you have the mental tenacity. Take Serena yesterday. She was down a set and the score was 4-0. She was two points away from losing the match. But she won anyway. She never gave up. She fought and scraped her way back from the brink of the ledge to the top of the mountain. It was hard work, but it wasn’t over until it was over. Don’t count yourself out  until the match is over.

6.Know when to challenge/save your challenges for when they matter. One of the greatest (and worst) advancements in tennis is the shot spot technology. There’s no reason for a shot to haunt you. Was it in? Was it out? You can know for sure. But you have to use the challenges carefully, when they matter. Li Na challenged a call that saved her from going down a set (she eventually lost the set, but that reversed call bought her some time). Don’t use all of your challenges on petty calls that don’t effect the outcome of the point/game/set/match. You only get so many; don’t use them and be without when you really need one. Stand up for what you believe, but do it when it makes the maximum impact.

7. Each round has its own rewards. Now win goes unrewarded. Whether you win one round or the whole tournament, the number of wins you garner will be rewarded accordingly. None of your winning is in vain. You may not go all the way, but just moving forward gets recognition.

8. Some serves give you easy points. When you get the opportunity to dictate the point, give it your all. Go for the ace, the unchallenged point. Any point you don’t have to fight for is a rarity. Take advantage of the opportunity to avoid confrontation and pushback while still getting your point.

9. Might doesn’t always make right. Just overpowering someone doesn’t always work. Sometimes you have to know how to volley, hit a drop shot, finesse the ball in. If you hit too hard, the ball will land out of bounds. Power must be combined with position and placement to win the point.

10. Finally, ranking only selects your half of the draw; it’s anybody’s game. The only thing that matters is winning. An underdog can win it all, and often does. What position you start in doesn’t dictate what position you end up in. Win it all and you can move up in the rankings. Don’t let it your starting position deter you from trying to move up. The top is the only place you have to stop.

Yep, the Australian Open is a lot like life.

Serving for the match,