There is another advice from the book Maximum Tennis by the great tennis coach Nick Saviano.
No matter what the circumstances, try to always project a powerful, positive presence on the tennis court. That does not mean you have to be stoic because that just doesn’t fit everyone’s personality. You can get angry and still present a strong image. Sometimes, you will have to simply be a good actor or actress to disguise how you feel. It is okay to lose the match, but don’t give your opponent the satisfaction of the confidence of thinking that she has broken you down emotionally. Whether you are winning, losing, or playing someone who is simply better than you are, act confident and under control. This will leave a lasting impression on your opponent, and, many times, when you least expect it, he might be the first one to “crack” mentally. But, most important, by maintaining this type of presence, you are taking a major step in controlling your emotions on the tennis court.
It was 1987, during the French Junior tennis championship. I was traveling with four junior boys, Jim Courier, Jonathan Stark, David Wheaton, and Cris Garner. Jim Courier, 17 years old at the time (and future number-one men’s player in the world and two-time French Open singles champion), and Jonathan Stark (future number-one men’s player in the world in doubles and French Open doubled champion) were playing in the first round of the French Junior doubles. Both boys were upset earlier in the day in the first round of the singles and, consequently, were despondent when they went on the tennis court to play the doubles. They were playing a team from the Ivory Coast, which they should have been beating comfortably. They had just lost the first set, and boy was it ugly! Their body language was terrible, they were talking negatively after almost every point, and they looked like losers. What was even more frustrating was that we just talked earlier before the match about forgetting about the singles loss, staying positive, and not letting their opponents know they were down. After the first set, I had decided that I would try to make a positive comment to perk them up as they came over to the side of the tennis court where I was sitting. But before that happened, they lost serve to go down a set and a break. Jim made another negative comment and dropped his racket to the ground. I had seen enough. Jonathan glanced over at me as they started to switch sides. He knew I was fuming. Jim kept his head down and did not look. I said to Jonathan as he passed by, “One more comment out of either of you, and you are in big trouble” and I motioned to him to get Jim’s attention. Finally, Jim reluctantly looked over. “Did you hear me? One more time and big trouble”. I wasn’t actually going to do anything. I just wanted to make a point. Both of them settled down, picked up their energy, started encouraging each other, and won the match in three close sets. But that was not the end of the story. They kept that positive attitude throughout the week and went on to win the tennis tournament. They beat two great Argentinians (both were ranked in the top 100 in the world on the men’s tour and still came back to play juniors) in the finals. This was one of the most gratifying success stories of my young coaching career because I felt the boys really learned some important lessons along the way about staying in the present; using positive self-talk; and keeping a powerful, positive presence on the tennis court. The great thing was they were rewarded for their efforts. Lesson learned!