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Kay’s Story: Two Options for a Gifted Player and Her Parents

October 22, 2004 01:02 PM

By Jim Brown, Ph.D., Executive Editor, Sports Performance Journal (athletesperformance.com)

At 13, Kay was a gifted athlete who had never taken a tennis lesson. An hour into her first lesson, she had made dramatic changes in the way she held and swung a racket. Every suggestion was understood, accepted, and put into play. Gifted athletes can do that sort of thing. Average athletes can't.

Within a year, Kay was the best junior player in her area of the state. By the time she was 15, she was number one in Girls 16 at the state level, ranked in the top five in the open division, and ranked high in the USTA-Southern Section. Kay was clearly an exceptional athlete and a tennis player with the potential to compete at the professional level.

Her teaching professional met with Kay and her parents to present two options — two courses of action that would lead in very different directions. First, he outlined Kay’s strengths and weaknesses and projected what it would take in lessons, time, money, competition, travel, and family impact to fulfill her potential. He explained that even with this kind of commitment, there were no guarantees of success at the professional level. On the other hand, there was a chance that Kay could reach the highest (national and international) levels the game and enjoy all of the benefits that go with it.

Then the pro presented the second option. It included playing high school tennis and area USTA events, living a normal family and social life, participating in a variety of high school activities, and probably earning an athletic scholarship to a Division I school. The pro asked the family to think about the options and to let him know their decision.

Although Kay participated in the decision, her parents had the final word. They decided on option two. Kay competed for her high school, maintained a high state ranking, and earned a scholarship that paid her way through college. Today, she is happy, well adjusted, married, has three children, and is one of the best, though unknown, league tennis players in Texas.

© 2004 HMS Publishing, Inc.
Jim Brown will be contributing new content to this site on a monthly basis. If you have a question for Dr. Brown please feel free to email him at




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