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Questions for Nick Kyrgios

Australian tennis talent Nick Kyrgios joined the ATP tour in 2013 and in 2018 reached a ranking of #13.  Kyrgios is known for moments of tennis brilliance when focused and playing well. He has a large base of support from fans and players.  Kyrgios is equally known for struggling with frustration and emotions on the court when matches are not going his way. Nick’s natural athletic talent sometimes is out of synch with his mental management and day to day business of the game. Physical gifts are a prerequisite at the world class level and typically fall short of being a champion when not accompanied by mental training.  Professional athletics is a grind that player’s have to love, or make peace with, and manage week to week. As a sport counselor when athletes come to see me, we begin by exploring basic issues that include motivation, values and goals for making a commitment to the sport. If there is a disconnect in these areas we look at what may be getting in the way of the player being the athlete they see themselves as being. The follow question are an example of what I would ask Nick Kyrgios.

1) What is your motivation to play professional tennis? World class level requires full commitment to training and competing. Nick your website says, “We live a very special life and are very lucky, I just love to compete and go out there and have fun and that’s why I play. My parents worked hard and fought to help me get where I am.” Yet at the 2019 Wimbledon second round post conference you said, “I am not the most professional guy. I won’t train day in and day out. I won’t show up everyday.”   Competing with the best in the world requires full commitment to the mental/physical pieces of the game. What do you want out of your professional time in this sport? There are many articles suggesting you need help with anger management. I think time management is a better idea to focus on. The life of a professional athlete often has a short life span. Nick has struggled with injuries, but work with a physiotherapist and managing his playing schedule to take time off that builds in both physical and mental rest seems important for future success.

2)  Why would you be upset if Nadal receives occasional preferential treatment?  Nadal has been competing on tour for eighteen plus years and has won at this point nineteen Grand Slam singles titles. During that time he has had occasional outbursts of frustration on the court, and disagreements with referees but for the most part he manages his emotions under duress and plays out his matches win or lose and accepts defeat with tolerance.  Nadal seems to be able to avoid verbally abusing referees, spitting, tanking matches and calling out opponents in post-match tweets. Champions earn their place and reap the rewards of their talent by playing even when they aren’t having their best day, when they aren’t feeling their best. They rate high on the Grit Scale.

You’ve said that other player’s receive preferential treatment. You were handed down a suspension for 16 tournament weeks for your on court behavior in Cincinnati. but if during the next six months you don’t earn any additional code violations you will be able to keep playing unless your conduct oversteps the conditions the ATP has set forth.

When a swathe of smashed racquets are left behind from your matches time and time again it demonstrates a poor representation of professional tennis. No other sport allows for equipment to be intentionally broken during a match/game without consequences. No other sport permits a participant to verbally abuse a referee. Yet, the ATP has given you room to keep playing in this six-month probation period.

The NKFoundation website says,  “NK Foundation endeavors to create a safe place where underprivileged youth can frequent to play the sport they dream about and take shelter if needed. Our facility will have tennis courts, basketball courts, a pool, a gym and dorms that will provide refuge to children that don’t have access to play they sport they desire.” Have you given some thought about how you will react and work with the kid at your facility that acts out when losing, or pouts and withdraws emotionally when losing? The kid that spits on other kids out of frustration or smashes equipment at your facility? You have a fantastic opportunity to become a role model for these kids you care so much about. This is your quote, “My purpose is to give every dream a sporting chance…..when I work on the NK Foundation and our Melbourne facility I cast my mind forward to all the disadvantaged kids I will be helping. I’m playing for them now.” In the upcoming 2020 playing season it will be interesting to see if you will make the leap forward to handling pressure and being a leader for these kids to look up to.

3)  What do you envision for your professional future?  Professional tennis will survive with or without your participation.  The next generation of players are exciting, powerful and hungry to win Grand Slams. You could probably raise money for your foundation by playing exhibitions which would take the pressure off of competing week to week. But the more success you have on the ATP tour in the next few years the more marketable you will be for future exhibitions. My guess is you are a competitive person and would prefer not to be a footnote in the sport history books. You have purpose, talent and fans. I hope you get the support you need to figure out how to participate competitively,  plan time off to rest your body and mind, add some mental skills to manage your emotions on court and allow yourself to see how far you can develop your talent. It would be a bonus for tennis and those kids that mean so much to you to fully immerse yourself in the game. Best of luck to you in 2020.

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