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‘A Champion’s Mind’ helps Syracuse on the court

first_imgOn Feb. 24, all eyes were on Dina Hegab once again. In a road game against Notre Dame, Hegab had the opportunity to try and secure her sixth match-clinching point of the season.Then Hegab remembered the tips. How to stay more focused, breathe. She buried a crosscourt forehand to secure the match win. She had remembered the book.Hegab, Syracuse players and coaches have perfected this mindset through repeated readings of the book “A Champion’s Mind: Lessons from a Life in Tennis”by Pete Sampras and Peter Bodo. The No. 27 Orange (8-5, 2-3 Atlantic Coast) read it individually over winter break and now revisit parts of it together as a team each week, hopefully gaining a mental edge on the court.Sampras, the co-author of the book, is the youngest male player to win the US Open and won 64 Association of Tennis Professionals singles titles. He lets people “inside his head” to look at the mental aspect of the game, according to the book’s description. In team play, the exact opposing matchups are unknown until it’s too late to prepare, shifting the emphasis to an individual-based focus.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSusie Teuscher | Digital Design Editor“One of the things that I always keep reminding myself of that I read in the book was not to be so hard on yourself and help yourself on the court,” Hegab said. “… This is something I’ve been doing for the last couple weeks, and I think it’s working.”Head coach Younes Limam first used the book with his previous teams at Rice.He liked how it focused on things that are often taken for granted: treating everyday as a gift and enjoying the process of everything.“A lot of it is about controlling things off the court …” Limam said. “How you’re not competing against anybody, you’re mainly competing against yourself and trying to be better today than what you were yesterday. I like to see the team buying in and really enjoying it.”The team discussed a few chapters of “A Champion’s Mind”each Wednesday at the beginning of the semester, sometimes on the court, sometimes in a conference room. They take turns reading a paragraph out loud, Guzal Yusupova said, and they normally can get through five to six pages in 20 minutes. The Orange now fit in discussions whenever time allows.The mental aspect of tennis can be critical, especially when preparation is hindered by not knowing what the exact matchups will be before the match. In this way, Limam said, his team has to know how to play on their own terms.Senior Libi Mesh said she reads during travel and is currently reading “Open: An Autobiography”by tennis legend Andre Agassi, a book Gabriela Knutson has also read. Syracuse has used a number of books for pregame preparation. In addition to “A Champion’s Mind,”Limam also made his four seniors read “a leadership book.” From “A Champion’s Mind,”Mesh learned to be more aware of how she’s acting and what she’s thinking during a match.Yusupova liked the approach of  “do and then say.” First you have to win, she said, then you get to say you won. Senior Masha Tritou said she learned to have “a gold medal approach” to everything she does, on and off the court, whether related to tennis or not.Syracuse has had an up-and-down season, with a four-game win streak followed by a four-game losing streak followed by yet another four-game win streak. And that was ended on Sunday, when the Orange lost 4-3 to Georgia Tech. But through “A Champion’s Mind,” the Orange have learned to focus instead on their own game, not their opponents, even when faced with a tough situation in a match.“You have to go through the motions all the time,” Tritou said. “Understand what you’re doing, and if the moments get hard, just keep doing it because that will pay off eventually.”— Staff Writer Andrew Crane and Asst. copy editor Arabdho Majumder contributed reporting to this story. Published on March 4, 2019 at 10:04 pm Contact Eric: [email protected] Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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