This is a special interview episode, in which the podcast team is joined by Coach Chani Anderson to conduct a panel interview with professional players Alison Riske, Lauren Davis and Jennifer Brady. The players talk about how they started in tennis and take us through their journey in juniors, for Jennifer in college, and to the pro game. The players provide many insights into their mindset as they went through this journey and how they are continuing to grow and improve.



J: Welcome to Compete Like A Champion. You're here with Dr. Larry Lauer, Mental Skills Specialist, and coach Johnny Parkes with USTA Player Development. Today, we've got a bit of a different format going on for this week's episode. I just want to introduce one of our women's national coaches, Chani Anderson, who's going to be our guest host for this episode. So, Chani, thanks for joining us.

C: Thanks for having me, you guys.

J: So this is what's different about this is this you know, what we're going to transport the listeners to is something that took place on a webinar and we were able to capture that. But you know, maybe for I mean, we have a great panelists on this. We had Lauren Davis who's 62 in the world, she's been career high 26; Jenny Brady, who is about 48 in the world, career high 45; and Ali Riske, who's 19 in the world, big career high 18, and you know, great role models. I think for all of our you know girls around the country that are aspiring to play pro, go to college. But maybe you could give us, Chani, some insights as to the types of things that we talked about before we take the listeners there.

C: Yes. I mean, you can't get better people than Ali, Lauren, and Jenny, I mean, just such fun people to talk to, great players, great competitors, bring a lot of experience. And yes, we talked about what they're doing during this tough, tough time, what their goals are, and how they transitioned to Pro. Their match preparation, how they deal with pressure, and just what the best piece of advice that they've ever received was, and it was a great conversation. They gave some great, great advice and I think it was really, really good for our American players to listen in.

J: That's awesome and Larry what was your thoughts and when we were getting, you know this was getting set up and we have to give a big shout out here to Captain Kathy and all the other, you know, women's national coaches from, you know, obviously yourself, Chani that helped set up we have Jean Desdunes, Jermaine Jenkins, we got Eric and Moe out in Carson and Jay in, in New York, you know, so a shout out to them for helping to get this going too, but what were your thoughts here, Larry, on this?

L: Well, first you just see their personalities come out there. They're such positive forces for our, for other American players. And, you know, I think that the listeners are going to enjoy just the honesty, the genuineness. They're not trying to sugarcoat anything or make it seem like they have it all figured out. They talk about how they feel certain things that the juniors feel as well and how they deal with it. So I think it's a real look at the reality of, you know, Junior tennis, transitioning to pro, playing pro and I really think it's going to be a great insight into that for everyone who listens.

J: Absolutely. And Chani, I mean, you know, as a former pro yourself, I mean, you've got a shared experience with the players that we had on, so how is it from your end now obviously as a former, a very good former professional player now on the coaching side, sort of listening to some of the answers that we were given, you know, did you resonate a lot with what they their answers and, you know, how did you resonate with it?

C: Oh, yes, absolutely. I loved how real and honest they were, um, you know, they spoke about the sacrifices they made, they spoke about the difficulties they had transitioning. You know, they spoke about the ups and downs and sometimes, you know, you don't think of, when you think of the pros, you don't think of the tough, it seems so glamorous. And it really isn't. And, you know, I just I really loved how honest they were and how open they were and like Larry, Dr. Larry said, some things they're still figuring out and they just they keep trying to get better every day and keep improving and trusting the process and I really loved listening to it.

J: That's awesome. So I think without further ado, let's take the listeners over to that recording. And we'll do some follow up reflections after. Let's take you to it. First and foremost, thank everyone for getting on. And, you know, thank you, Lauren, Jenny, and Ali, for taking the time out of your day to get on and ask the questions that the players that are tuning in to this Google Hangout have asked questions for you. So really appreciate that. I hope you're all doing well wherever you are. So I guess here as we start out we've got some great questions; we thought we'd warm up with with one from Elena and Arianna here, which was, you know, with quarantine going on, there isn't much tennis going on. So, what are you doing in your free time at home? Now that you have lots of free time? Maybe Lauren, do you wanna? You want to start?

LD: Yeah, um, so I've just been trying to stay active as best as I can. I think being outside at this time is just really important because obviously we get vitamin D from the sun and just staying active. I've been like rollerblading, going for walks, doing workouts. I take a nutrition course as well called integrative nutrition. It's something that I'm definitely passionate about. So I've been definitely consumed with with that, and just like staying in touch with friends and family and just yeah.

L: Lauren, definitely excited to hear about the rollerblading. Do you have a hockey stick when you do that? Are you shooting some pucks, or what? What's going on? 

LD: No, I don't think I'm that coordinated. But I did use to play hockey when I was younger.

L: Yeah, come on. Let's get the stick out. You can play you know. Yeah. Cool.

J: That's great. And let's move on to Jenny. What do you, what are you up to?

JB: Yeah, I'm here in Orlando. You know, I've been trying to keep busy as much as possible like Lauren. You know, trying to get outside as much as possible, staying active. I was actually able to order some stuff online for a garage gym. So I've been doing that in my, you know, free time. Taking long walks. Spent some time last weekend, pulling some weeds in the grass, so gardening, I guess you could say I'm trying to take up don't have too many hobbies. But yeah, you know just trying to stay keep the mind busy, stay active. You know cooking a lot. Haven't gone inside grocery stores or anything. I've been doing all delivery or Walmart and Target pickup and yeah, so

J: what kind of things are you cooking up?

JB: Quite simple, not too flavorful. Nothing. Nothing fancy.

J: Nice. What about you, Ali?

AR: Yeah, very, very similar to Lauren and Jenny. I actually do have access to a tennis court, which has been really nice. So Stephen will go out with me occasionally and hit, which has been really nice. I like to, you know, beat him up as much as I can. My trainer sends workout, so I'm able to do like a lot of weight bearing exercises, go for runs, intervals, which is pretty simple. Everyone kind of has access to those things. And then I think lastly, which honestly during this time has been huge, is just to work on some mental things, which has been really beneficial. I feel like during the season, we don't necessarily have as much time to dedicate to that, as we, you know, maybe should be. And so I've I do have a sports psych that I've been working with and trying to put in a little bit of extra time in that arena because I do believe so strongly in, you know, making that, you know, as good as your tennis game.

L: Love to hear that Ali. That's great. You're finding other ways to get better including

AR: I've been looking for your approval.

L: You don't need my approval, trust me. But that's awesome.

C: Yeah, you're already in his good book right there, Ali. We love to hear that.

So we had a follow up question from Xavier. But you guys already, he asked what activities and exercises you're doing during the pandemic to stay fit and ready to come back to play. You guys have mentioned that you're doing a lot of activities already. How do you plan with things being so uncertain? You know, going into the offseason, you have a clear plan knowing how many weeks you have to train before you're ready for Australia. How do you manage this time, not knowing how long you have? How do you stay motivated? How do you do your planning during this time?

LD: Um, for me, I have definitely taken advantage of the time off so far, like I've used it to relax and just because obviously we don't get this much time off, that this is just very uncharted territory, and so yeah, just been using it to relax. And it definitely is difficult not knowing like when the next tournament is going to be. But like I said earlier, like I think staying active whether it's something as small as taking a 15 minute walk, I think that is doing something and that's important as well. But yeah, like I've been, I haven't been hitting but I'm going to start hitting next week and yeah, just kind of get those tennis muscles going again.

C: Awesome. What about you, Jenny?

JB: Yeah, I mean, same as Lauren, but you know, I was lucky enough to actually my sister, she was here for two weeks. Last weekend she left, she drove back to Louisiana. So she drove here 12 or 13 hours to come hang out with me and then she got sick of me after two weeks, so she went back, but, you know, like little things like that - spending time with family, you know, you don't really get to see family much during the year because you're traveling and have different schedules. So I think, you know, that's something that we took advantage of. And yeah, I mean, you know, just like we all said, you know, staying active, you know, not really thinking too much about, you know, when is the next time we'll play because I felt like in the beginning I was thinking that and I was like, it's going so slow, you know, we have so long and then you kind of lose a bit of motivation, but you know, just I think just enjoying every day and taking every day, as you know, just a fresh start.

C: I just kind of want to know, does Stephen try and cheat when you beat him?

AR: To do what, Chani?

C: Does he cheat when you beat him?

AR: No, he definitely doesn't cheat, but he gets so upset. It makes me really uncomfortable, because then I feel like I start getting upset and it is honestly, I don't want to swear with the kids on the show, but it is quite the 'show'. So we have to limit our tennis together. I would much rather go out with maybe somebody else if I could. Right. Um, yeah, I think just like, you know, they mentioned, I think this is a time to you know, it's totally out of our control. And I think that's honestly also the beauty of it. Because a lot of times you know, as athletes we are in control of so many of the things that we think, the things that we do, and we always you know, are upset at ourselves or wish we could have done something better or different. And at this point, you know, this is something that we can't worry about and we can't, you know, fixate over it because it is out of our control. And we can only you know, use this time as best we can to do the little things. So whether it be spend time with family or just relax on the couch, watch a couple movies, you know, in one day, which is something we, you know, we rarely get to do, I think is huge to take advantage of that time. So I think motivation-wise, I think you have to do what makes you happy in this time. You know, as many mentioned, we don't know when we're going to start, so it's more about just enjoying it, taking it day by day, as Jenny said, and doing little things that can keep us fit, keep us happy., and when times do start up again, you know, we're not kind of starting from scratch, and we have a little bit of work behind us, and our bodies are good to go.

C: Larry, do you want to take, are you taking the next one?

L: Yeah, I'll take the next one. And again, I just want to thank you all for coming on here and answering these questions because the players came up with these. So if you don't like the don't blame us, they're asking them. Just so you know. So here comes the next question. So this is from Annie Rude. And I think a few people were interested in this question, but what is your long term goal for tennis? And how is it evolved since you started tennis? So how is that changed over time from maybe when you were a junior, you were younger, and your long term goal for now? Has it been the same or has it changed?

LD: Yeah, when I was looking over the questions that Kathy sent us I thought that was a really good question. And it definitely made me think a little bit. But like the way you phrase the question, like long term goal, what comes to mind is just like longevity. So and longevity that entails like taking care of your mind, taking care of your body, and just doing all that is in your power, all that's in your control to manage those things. Because obviously your mind and your thoughts have a big impact on your physical body and injuries and all that. But yeah, from like a results point of view, when I first turned pro, my goal was to be top five in the world and it definitely still is that same goal but I kind of have like a bigger picture in mind now. Like earlier on in my career, I used to put a ton of pressure on myself, I was just so focused on the result, on winning and losing. And now this is actually I think this is my 10th year on tour, which is crazy. But I've definitely learned a lot about life and just enjoying the game because I think at the at the end of the day, my happiness and my enjoyment on the court is gonna make the biggest impact on people and I'm definitely the happiest doing it that way.

L: Well, that's wonderful to hear Lauren and when you were young and you were a few years into your tennis, did you dream about being a pro tennis player? At an early age?

LD: I did not actually. Um, so I played quite a few other sports growing up. I was really into soccer as well. And so when I was 13, my mom had me choose between soccer and tennis because they were both just so time consuming. And obviously, I ended up choosing tennis. And I chose tennis because I wasn't so keen on relying on my teammates. Funny story, actually, I used to be on a soccer team with Nicole Gibbs we were, I think we were 12, and she was on my team and she actually ended up scoring on her own goalie. But and I yeah, but um, but yeah. And I got off track a little bit. Oh, yeah.

AR: It was worth it for that story though. Lauren.

JB: Yeah Lauren.

J: Was that her last game in soccer?

LD: What was that?

J: Was that her last game playing soccer?

LD: I have no idea.

L: It was Lauren's last game. 

LD: Yeah, probably. Yeah. But um,

L: Well, we can we can go to the next person if you want and you can think about what you're gonna say Lauren. I'm sure Jenny is gonna drop some stories on us too. So do you remember you're gonna say Lauren or?

LD: Um. Yes. So. No, I didn't. I really got off tangent. I'm sorry, I really didn't have any dreams or aspirations of turning pro until I was 17. And started doing really well in the juniors. I was always planning on going to college.

L: Okay, we're going to come back to that, here's a follow up question. But I'd love for Jenny Brady to now kick it in here.

JB: Okay, so, for me, my long term goal for tennis is to just honestly just maximize my potential. I mean, I'm not one to really put a number or label on things, you know, and I think a lot of people can get caught up in that and that can kind of, you know, deter you from, you know, setting real, attainable, reachable goals. But, you know, there's no specific ranking goals that, you know, really get in the way of my goal of just becoming the best that I want to possibly become. Now, of course, obviously, I mean, like Lauren said, you know, becoming top five, you know, everybody wants to be number one in the world. But, you know, I think if you just set that as your goal, I think it's something that you know, it's just an object and, really, there's no, for me, there's no real you know, meaning behind that, and there's no drive or motivation, you know, there's no, you don't really know what's fueling you to get you there. So, you know, just trying to become, you know, the best that I can be and knowing that each and every day that, you know, when I look back at my career what I've done and I want to know that, you know, I have no regrets and I was able to do everything that I could to become the best that I could be.

L: Thanks for that Jenny. And certainly, that daily kind of focus of getting better definitely helps you to stay motivated long term. So I'm gonna move it over to Ali, sorry that you're last third time. We should make you first next time but you can't be in Pennsylvania right now. Looks too nice.

No chance. No.

AR: No worries. I'm not in Pennsylvania.

I think this is an interesting question, because it's something I've definitely thought about this was my twelfth year on tour, I've matured a lot and I think I've been a little bit slow to mature especially in the emotional sense. So when I first started out I was so concerned with breaking a certain ranking, with getting to the top hundred, and then going to top 50 and, you know, having that in my head was kind of my motivating factor, which was really tough because you know, you ultimately you know, you can make those happen and I was fortunate enough that I did, but along the way you lose a lot. And you know, to put a number on those things, it kind of, you know, it makes it a real emotional roller coaster when you. you know, put a number on something and you're losing every week. So for me as my career has progressed and I've spent more time out there, I've really found that, you know, my biggest concern now when I play is to maximize my mental capacity. And I've felt so often, especially in the last, you know, year, year and a half, especially working with my coach Billy that and people off court that that has really been my, where I spend all of my energy and put the most work towards because that's what I'm most proud of, even when, you know, I go out and lose a match. I'm there to the last point and I gave it my ultimate mental effort. Obviously, when you're mentally there, you're physically there too for the most part, unless you're hurt, injured because your mind's going to tell your body what to do so. So for me, that's been a huge turning point and something that I really put an emphasis on now is just maximizing  my mental capacity.

J: That's awesome and that's some great responses. I guess that leads us a little bit into this next almost topic. We've got some great questions about transitioning to Pro. I just want to hand over to Chani to maybe take us through that.

C: So yeah, this question came from Katherine. And Larry sort of went into that question a little bit with Lauren. So Lauren we'll give you a chance again. Oh, did you have a specific moment and when was the moment you decided to go pro? And what made you decide? What made you make that decision?

LD: Yeah, I turned pro when I was seventeen. Like I said, earlier, I didn't really have any intention of turning pro. I was actually looking at colleges and talking to coaches and all that. But yeah, when I was 17, I did really well in the juniors. I got up to like number three in the world in juniors and was just playing some good tennis and really enjoying myself. And I just remember thinking to myself, like after winning a tournament, like this is the best feeling in the world. And so after that, I was just like, I want to pursue this because I love it and I have a passion for the game and I think that I can do really well.

C: That's great. Um, what about you, Ali?

AR: Oh, wow, you threw me off there. I had to unmute myself.

JB: I was ready.

AR: I was 18 when I turned pro. I had no intention, just like Lauren, I have no intention of pursuing the pro route, just because financially, I knew it just wasn't in the cards for me and my family which, you know, I didn't even think twice about because I know that they sacrificed so much for me to even get a college scholarship. So I was super excited, I signed with Vanderbilt. Two weeks before I was supposed to go to school, I had a family friend call me up and he offered to basically pay for me and my sister who was traveling with me at the time to pay for our expenses until I was able to support myself. It was kind of a proposal that I couldn't pass up. And if anyone was a little adamant in this situation, you know, in my family, it would have been myself because I didn't know obviously if I was going to succeed, if I was good enough, if you know anything was going to transpire from me turning pro. And so that was the moment I turned pro and I went for it and honestly, because of Tom, who, you know, sponsored me, I am here today. So I'm extremely grateful.

C: Was it a really tough decision at the time?

AR: Honestly, it was not because I was, I was hesitant because I didn't know if success was going to happen, but when I saw how everyone around me was so convicted that it was the right choice for me, being my sister who had played on tour, gone to college, my brother, you know, played in college, my mom and dad who, you know, sacrificed everything for me up until that point, they still were willing for me to sacrifice my college education, which ultimately I probably could have got gotten it paid for maybe if I was an assistant. So that's kind of what I fell back on, mentally to kind of, you know, justify me turning pro and, you know, turning down that free scholarship. So I think once I got in the middle of it, and I started playing tournaments, and I started to see what the competition was like and to feel comfortable, I knew that, you know, I made the right decision.

C: That's great. Jenny, your path was a little bit different in going to college first. How was that? How did you make that decision?

JB: Yeah, you know, I took a different path than them. I decided to go to UCLA. And after my freshman year in 2014, yeah, so after my first year at UCLA in 2014, during the summer, I decided to play some challenger events. So some, some 25Ks, 50s, stuff like that. And then I was able to take the fall off of my sophomore year, so I continued to play a bunch of the USTA pro circuit events here in the States, instead of going during the fall quarter at UCLA, and then eventually I got up to I think, like 220 in the world. So I knew, you know, I had talks with the coaches and things like that. And we decided, I think it would be best if I, you know, came back to school, finished my sophomore year, I finished the two quarters there. And then, in June of 2015, I decided to turn pro and you know, looking back, I think it was a great decision. I was in a great place. I was ranked 200 in the world. You know, it was a great starting point for me to come out of college and yeah, I mean, I was fortunate enough. I was working with Roger coming out of there. So yeah, I mean, looking back, I think it was, you know, a great decision. It wasn't just my decision, you know, I worked, you know, I talked with a bunch of coaches, family members, you know, UCLA coaches, we all thought it would be best for me. So, yeah,

C: Very good.

L: Well, there's certainly a theme there. And that is that decision wasn't something that was made early. And the path looks different for everyone, obviously. But that maybe goes to show that it doesn't have to be made early and you can still have a very successful pro tennis career. And that's a very important thing for our juniors to hear. So I want to follow up with the next question. We'll start with Jenny here on this, we'll let her stay on. So this comes from Rhea. But so talking still about this transitioning to pro; so when you were a junior, and you were when you were in college, and you decided to go to pro, what advice would you give to young players that are really wanting to be pros or working to go pro? What advice would you have for them, Jenny?

JB: Honestly, I would say you know, I think don't be influenced by your peers or what other people are doing. But instead, you know, just take control of, you know, eventually it becomes your career, it's your life. And, you know, whatever you decide, I think you have to fully believe and stand by and, you know, commit to it, but also be realistic and have, you know, common sense when you make that decision. And for me, it was at the time it was going to college. And you know, I think, looking back, you know, it was a great decision for me, you know, I was there for two years I grew mentally, physically, you know, I matured so much, was able to, you know, be on my own, figuring things out. I think I fell in love with tennis more knowing that, you know, while I was in school, I didn't only have tennis, I had school and tennis. So I knew that I preferred tennis over school. So yeah, for me, I would say, you know, just some advice I would say is, you know, each and every day is an opportunity to improve, to get better. You know, and look at the bigger picture, tennis is such a long, long career, you know, eventually it, it ends but you know, and then there's life after that. So I think you know, just knowing that, giving it your all and every practice every, you know, training session, and to stick to the process and just believe in yourself and surround yourself with good people, people who believe in you, who trust you, who motivate you, you know, like everyone here, Chani, Larry, Jermaine, Jamea, Johnny, you know, Satoshi, everyone

Chani is very important.

J: I had, sorry, Jenny, I'm not letting you escape just yet. I had a quick follow up question because I think that's something that we maybe do a lot of sometimes we fall into this like comparisons. So when you, did you ever feel yourself doing that? And if you did, did you have people around you? Who were the people that were most influential in opening either your eyes or not to, making sure that whatever you do is for you and not for anyone else and not by comparing yourself to anyone else?

JB: Yeah, I mean, I think it's just natural human nature to compare yourself with others and especially in junior tennis I think it happens a lot. You know, there are a lot of good players that were my age that didn't go to college. I was probably the only one thinking in my age group that went to college. You know, and a lot were playing pro at the time, even actually even winning titles and I was, you know, packing my bags headed to UCLA. So, but yeah, I mean, you know, I think you know, it just, eventually you get older and you realize that, you know, it's not worth it to you know, compare yourself to others. It's just a waste of energy. And if anything, you know, if you're comparing yourself to others, use it as fuel to, you know, try and become better or, you know, don't let it discourage you.

L: Thank you for that. Thanks, Jenny. Well, Ali, why don't we go to you so you know, what advice would you have about being a junior and wanting to go pro? What advice would you have in terms of doing that?

AR: Yeah, I think I'm a big believer of, you know, if you're going to do this, you know, make sure you give yourself the best chance and Jenny really covered everything with this answer, in my opinion, you know, you have to be realistic, but really, I think, you know, if you're going to do it, you have to, you have to do it the right way. And you have to put the right people around you. I think that's extremely crucial. You know, from a young age, you have to have all these, you know, different pockets would you say, you know, full before you decide to go and pursue this because, you know, it is an amazing thing, but I think, you know, to give yourself the best chance at success, and not just to be able to say, Oh, you know, I tried to play pro tennis, you know, that's fine, if that's what you want too, but I'm thinking that everyone on this call, you know, is a very, you know, high level player, whether you're going to play in college or going to pursue professionals. So, my advice would be to make sure you have the means, the finances lined up to do it the right way. The coach that you believe is going to take you to that next level. And people that are good, genuine people that are surrounding you. I, you know, have been very fortunate in my career to have people that, you know, who loved me as a person. And for me, that was the fuel for me and that's what, you know, I drive off of in life. So I was very fortunate and I am very fortunate. And that for me, is you know, my one piece of advice for people that are looking, you know, to pursue. Is just make sure you have things lined up that are going to give you the best chance to succeed. And I think also, Larry, I'm gonna put you out there, but I think a sports psych for everyone on this call is extremely important or mental coach, a life coach, someone that's there for you, to get you through the hard times in tennis. They're inevitable and it's going to, if you have someone there for you in that regard, they're going to help you become who you are as a person quicker, faster. And that's going to allow you to be a better competitor when you get on the court too.

L: Thank you, Ali, and I'll send a check. And certainly mental performance coaches around the country are applauding you right now and ready to take those clients on so we appreciate that. 

AR: I'm doing what I can for you, Larry.

L: You're the best! I love it. So that's great.

C: So yeah, a lot of you were saying the sacrifices you've made and and some tough decisions and so the next question is from Annie Rude (?) and he's asking, what are the biggest changes you had to make in your life going from being a junior to being a pro now, and how did how did you handle it? Let's start with Ali this time. 

AR: I think for me, the biggest, you know change from going from a junior to a pro was losing every week. I played a very small schedule in the juniors, just because we went to what we could drive to, so I never played a full Junior schedule. So I wasn't playing every week I, you know, I went to, you know, I would focus on my, on my school on the weeks that I wasn't, you know, at tournaments. So, transitioning to pros, playing every week, losing every week, I was extremely sensitive. So I was sensitive, confidence wise, I would take it personally when I lost, I would worry about, you know, what people were thinking of me and how I was being judged. And these were, you know, terrible things to be feeling, especially on a weekly basis. So it was a constant, you know, struggle for me and honestly, it's very indicative of my roller coaster of a career, you know, really until the last couple years. They were things that I always struggled with and you know, I'm constantly fighting them and working on it to this day. So, you know, I'm really proud, you know, of how far I have come in that regard. But that, for me was the biggest challenge from juniors to Pro. So everything else I really enjoyed other than that.

C: It's very true, because once you get out there, unless you win the tournament, you pretty much have a tough day, every week, because you lose. So it sounds like you identified what you needed to work on. And now you're very aware of it and working on it. So that's very, very good, to hear.

AR: Thanks Chani, but it's been a it's been a work in progress. And yeah, definitely still working on it.

C: What about you, Jenny?

JB: Yeah, I mean, you know, I think pretty much same as Ali, you know, also, I think everyone has demons and you just have to find those demons and figure out how to deal with them and what works for you. Everything works, you know, so there's something different for everyone, you know, but it's just I think the hardest part is actually realizing it and, you know, taking full responsibility of, you know, whatever it is that you may be failing and also, you know, finding out and you know, handling that. But I think for me, you know, the biggest changes were, I mean, like we talked about earlier, I had a different route, I went to college, you know, and I think for me that was kind of the building block for where I was able to mature and grow and get out of my comfort zone. You know, I like to think that you know, that now that I've gotten older, I'm much wiser and smarter with you know, the decisions that I take each and every day and, you know, it's, you know, important to become independent and, you know, get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

C: Yeah, as you say you did have a different route. So you almost went from juniors, to a change to college, to a change to pros, which you almost did a double change and

JB: I took a step in each little pond. Yeah.

C: Lauren, do we have you back?

LD: Yes, I think so. Oh, can you hear me? Yes, we can. Yes. So sorry about that. Um, so, yeah, I think Ali definitely hit the nail on the head because I struggled with the same thing. And what I've taken away from these years on tour is just learning to manage the highs and the lows. Because the lows can really get you down. I remember there would be there would be days after I lost that I would just like stay in my room for the next day and just kind of wallow and it would just ruin the next week really. So that's definitely been something that I've learned throughout my career, but also something that was a tough transition as well was all of the travel. We obviously travel over like 30 weeks a year, away from home, away from family and friends. And in the beginning, I would see my friends going off to college and feeling as if I was missing out - that was definitely tough, but that's why I think the emphasis on choosing this for yourself and because this is your passion and your love, then I don't think you'll have any regrets and making that decision.

J: That's awesome and that's some really great advice, obviously, for everyone that's listening to this. So we wanted to switch gears here and now take you to the match court and talk a little bit about match preparation. I believe, you know, Chani I'll kick this over to you for Rohan's question.

C: Yes. So Rohan, what he's asking - what are your daily routines before matches? And did they change as you got older?

Let's start, who wants to take this?

LD: Yeah, um, so my routines change, obviously, if I'm playing a match in the morning versus a night match. So if I'm playing a match in the morning, like first on at 11, say, I'll wake up probably around seven and normally like I do some meditation, some breathing or something, get a good breakfast in there. I warm up least an hour and a half before a match and then I have likea snack before I go on and just get my racquets ready. Kind of spend some time alone, making sure I'm not distracted by my phone or by anyone else. If I'm playing a night match, I will spend all morning in my room and maybe part of the afternoon depending on what time I'm playing. Because I definitely like the quiet. I perfer the quiet over the stimulation of the environment of the tennis courts. It can be overwhelming at times. So I definitely try and prepare myself to get in the zone.

C: I know Dr. Larry loved hearing about the breathing and the visualization. What about

L: Trust me, I heard that great job Lauren.

C: Yeah, yes, I just saw it. No, what about you, Jenny?

JB: I'm pretty similar. You know, obviously, depending on if you're playing in the morning, afternoon or night, everything is, you know, it kind of depends on what time you're playing the match. But, you know, as far as you know, what I do usually doesn't change. It's just about what time I do it, you know, like the same. If I had an evening match, then, you know, I'll probably try to sleep as late as possible. You know, maybe do a workout in the morning, just to get my body going. For me if I'm, you know, sluggish at the beginning of the day, I tend to be sluggish at the end of the day. So, you know, just trying to get a little sweat, nothing major, maybe a light hit or something. And then, you know, meals, obviously, never skip a meal. And then like an hour and a half, two hours before the match, a warm up, you know, speaking with the coaches right before the match and then playing the match. But you know, I feel like now I'm a bit more invested in my routines and I believe in my routines more than when I was you know, first starting out playing and, you know, I feel like that kind of brings a sense of calmness or comfort to, you know, each and every match that you play. It's not like something that's foreign or new territory. So I think you know, finding what works well for you is what you should do.

C: So, as you were as you got older, you figured out what worked for you and now you're very comfortable and it's a habit for you.

JB: Yeah, definitely.

C: Ali?

AR: Yeah, I think you know, honestly once you get to this level, we all have, you know, really similar days so I can't really, you know, add anything to that. I do prefer more of a quiet environment you know than stimulation with say music. I know Lauren touched on that. And I think a big thing too is I treat the match days as I do in my practice days, so nothing is nothing is changing from that perspective. And I think that's a huge thing that helps on match days because it does - you're trying to treat everything similar and have your body or mind react the same no matter if it's, you know, match day, practice day. You need, you know, obviously you prefer to be firing a little bit sharper on match days, but you know, you have to treat things the same because you know, you practice or you play like you practice and that goes for warming up your body, cooling down, eating the right foods, drinking the right things. So I think just trying to keep things as similar you know, as I do each and every day.

C: I love how you were saying doing the same thing for practices and matches because I think that's a big thing for the juniors, for you guys to listen and to apply. To do the same thing for practices as you would for matches. So that's great to hear Ali. Larry, you want to take the next question?

L: I would love to because this is a topic that I love to discuss. And I'm really interested to hear from all three of the players here, the pro players about pressure during matches and just sort of how you deal with that. So this comes from Liv and Pearly. They both pretty much had the same question. How do you deal with pressure? And specifically as it relates to big points during a match, that this is like the hundred million dollar question that everybody wants to know the answer to. So who would like to begin on that one? Ali?

AR: All right.

L: Everybody wanted to go at once.

AR: I heard my name so I guess, well, I think for me, I mean, I've always, you know, had nerves been nervous. I'm just a nervous - I'm a nervous person in general. So I, you know, I've learned to deal with that over the years. And I think in those moments in particular, I think I try to make it as present based as possible. So instead of getting emotional about the situation or thinking about the future, thinking about what I could have done or should have done that, maybe previously, I think, you know, whether I'm going up for a return, I'm looking you know, if it goes to my forehand, I'm looking to go inside out backhand, I'm looking at big cross court, trying to narrow down the balls exactly as I want to hit them as they'll come to me, so that when they do happen, I have a very clear view and my mind is so occupied and fixated on that next shot, that it's not, you know, getting caught up in the emotion and the feelings of the situation. So, again, it's not perfect, but that is the intention. And that's what I think when I am playing my best and doing my best that's, you know, a big part of it.

L: Excellent. So Lauren, why don't you go next,

LD: With the pressure um, what I try and do because obviously, like a million other thoughts go through your mind on a breakpoint, or game point or whatever. So what I try and do is like, I'll say, Oh, I'm going to serve here, and then first ball here, and it kind of keeps you just focused on one thing, focused on the process rather than on winning or losing the point. But something else that has worked for me is relying, or not relying, but like feeling supported by my team in that moment. So like, my coach is in the stands, I'll look over at him, like do a fist pump or just find some sort of encouragement from him. I found that definitely helps.

L: That's outstanding. And I'm hearing a common theme here of being in the present, focusing on a task that you have confidence in and you're committed to, which is a really good idea. So Jenny, and plus the support which is very important as well Lauren. Jenny, why don't you you bring it home here.

Oh, come on baby, let's go.

JB: No, you know, combining both with Lauren and Ali said, you know, obviously having support from your team there's you know, it's great because then it gives you that little extra belief knowing that it's not the end of the world honestly, if you don't win that point. You know, you always have the great thing about tennis is you always have another opportunity, even if it's not that match that week, there's always another tournament, event, we have so many tournaments every week, you know, so it's not life or death. And you know, just looking at the bigger picture, not getting ahead, not thinking you know, after you win the first set, oh you know, I have it in the bag or Okay, if I just do what I do here because you know, there's an opponent on the other side of the net, you know, and they want to win just as bad as you want to win. So not really letting up off the gas pedal and just sticking to what you've been doing and, you know, just competing until the very end, you know. For me, I think, you know, I like to go back to my routine, something that, you know, gives me this sense of calmness and comfort. And, you know, when I'm in pressure situations, I tend to speed up and just when I'm serving, I want to get to the line, I want to, you know, play, play play. So I think, you know, I'm playing my best when I'm just taking my time. Obviously not like moping around the court, but you know, taking a good amount of time in between points and stepping up to the line at every point knowing that, you know, it's a fresh point, it's a new start and having that clear mind and being able to focus on that point instead of, you know, thinking about the future or the past or, you know, really creating unnecessary pressure.

L: That's excellent there and I just hear, you staying present, following routines, normalizing that everybody gets nervous and it's not an awful thing. You can deal with it, you can perform. So many good message JP, I think they're going to be gunning for my job in the future.

J: So I thought it was great.

JB: We learned it all from you, Larry.

L:I doubt that. But thank you.

J: That was a great piece. Common routines give you a calming sense and confidence and trying your very best to the end. That sounds like a great strategy to deal with pressure. So we were running, we've got about five minutes here. We always like to finish with a bit of a drop the mic moment. So I'm going to hand it over to Chani who's got a great question from Elena.

C: Yes, Elena wants to know, what was the best piece of advice given to you by someone that you would share with these players?

JB: I would say, you know, walk off the court knowing that you competed your hardest and you left it all out there and be proud of your effort, no matter the result, win or lose. 

AR: I, you know, received so much wisdom over, you know, my 29 years but I would have to say one that has pertained very much to my career is, you know, it's very cliche, but you have to trust the process. And I think that means, you know, even on the downs, when you lose a match, you have to do the right thing - you have to go out the next day, you have to put in the work, you have to do the time, and you have to trust that you know, next week or the week after that, that something better is going to happen, that it's on the horizon. Hey, it might not be, but at least you're doing the work, doing the right thing. And you're trusting that that in the end is going to be enough.

C: Love it trusting the process. Lauren?

LD: Yeah, um, what Ali was saying, that's really good because what I found is resilience is definitely something key that we have as tennis players. Because obviously we're losing each week and to get up the next morning and to go train after a loss is one of the hardest things to do. But that's the beauty of tennis. Like there's tournaments every week, and I've seen countless times, and even myself, I'll lose first round and then next week, I'll go and win the tournament. So you just have to always keep looking for the positives, ways to improve. And ultimately, just enjoy.

J: That's awesome. And as we're running short of time here, I think that's a great moment there to stop. And I just want to take this opportunity to thank you, Lauren, Jenny and Ali for getting on and answering all the great questions from all the players that posed questions to you. And, you know, we definitely value all the time that you've given us and so we just really appreciate that.

AR: This was awesome. I think I learned maybe just as much as everyone else in the chat.

JB: Yeah same, I'm taking notes.

L: Well the other thing I would say, is as we look at this JP, we value all you ladies as role models, and I know the players do as well. And so you're great role models for the players that are on this call. Thanks.

C: Thanks a lot. Thanks for making it so real.

J: All right. So what a fantastic hour we've just been able to spend there with with Lauren, Jennifer - Jenny and Ali. I mean, just some really great insights for all players and any parents, coaches here listening into this, but why don't I hand it to you first, Larry, I wanted to save the drop the mic moment for Chani here, who's done an unbelievable job hosting this today. But Larry, I mean, first my first question to you is, Chani asked us earlier today is A, did they pay you to remark on so many great qualities for the mental skills aspect. And then two, what are your just overall thoughts on what you've heard?

L: You know, I did not pay them, I did not talk to them beforehand.

So I can't say that there was any foul play going on there. These are their honest opinions, which is important to realize. I just think about how they really sort of brought some reality to their experiences that they weren't trying to say they were fearless or they didn't feel nerves or they didn't struggle. The decisions they had to make were easy, or it was clear to them. You know, in fact, all three of them really didn't have ideas that they would be a pro until they were older. You know, it wasn't at 13 they were thinking they were going to be a pro tennis player. So that was interesting. Their pathway and their journey. But to me the honesty and then the willingness just to sort of - it sounds like as they've matured that they become more comfortable with the reality is that there is pressure, there are nerves, and they've focused more on the process now and enjoying the game than the outcome.

J: That's a great point there. And, you know, the process is obviously something we talk about a lot and being part of the process and what that means of being involved in it. I particularly, really enjoyed the remark Jenny made around dealing with pressure. And it was, you know, centered around essentially, routines and giving her best no matter the situation and, you know, how routines make her feel when she's under pressure, that it was more, you know, it's a calming influence. It gives her confidence from the, you know, from trying her best. I mean, that's just unconditional. Doesn't matter if she's up, she's down, no matter what I mean, she's trying her best until the last point win or lose. I thought that was is a great message to give to any Junior player, any player in general out there that, you know, that wants to learn how to deal with pressure in a very tangible way. So Chani I mean, I'll hand it over to you. What were some of the main points you got out of that?

C: Yes, I mean, you both of you touched on it. The three key takeaways for me was when we spoke about transitioning to pros, how all three had different thoughts. I think sometimes as younger players we fall into the trap thinking there's just one path and oh my goodness, if I don't do it at this time, you know, and that creates panic and anxiety. And just seeing how different all three of them were with their pathways. I mean, Jenny went to college first, Ali decided at 18, she already had signed up with Vanderbilt and then she got this great opportunity to turn pro, and Lauren and her pathway. So they all had such different pathways. And I think that was a great point they made. And the second one was the dealing with pressure in matches. You said it, Johnny, how they stay in the present and Jenny mentioned her routines. And I think it's so important for the players to realize that it sounds very simple and there's no magic recipe, but it's hard work. It's doing it day in and day out and making it a habit. And you know, it touches on the third one, which Ali said, preparing for matches. She prepares for practice the same she would for matches, and she practices how she wants to play, and it all comes down to creating good habits and it's not turning that magic switch on. And you know, it's very disciplined but they're keeping it simple and I thought they did great and they gave great answers and hopefully our players got a lot out of it and all players.

J: Yeah, that's awesome and that's I guess that's our virtual drop the mic moment there Chani. You're making a very strong case to be the third host of this show or or maybe you could just replace Larry with you. Or myself. I don't know.

C: I was nervous coming along because you guys have this, I don't know, this relationship going, and yeah, I was the third wheel, but I had a lot of

J: I believe you've called it good cop bad cop. Larry being the bad cop

L: That's why I'm growing the goatee, so I can look like a bad cop. But Chani great job, Johnny, great job facilitating and emceeing the whole thing but yeah, anytime you want to come on Chani, you're welcome.

C: You've got my number. I love it.

L: We'll be calling awesome

J: Thank you, thank you Chani. It's been great and that's a wrap for this week's episode of Compete Like A Champion. I mean we're very lucky to have got three great role models on to answer some great questions that some players posed and we hope to do this again in the future with some other players and some other very great role models in our great sport. So for more resources and information and to find out you know, things ranging from setting goals to you know, the mental skills side or dealing with pressure, their preparation, obviously you know that we've got our website Be sure to check that out anytime, especially, you know, at this time where you may have a bit more downtime on your hands. But until next week, Dr. Larry, Chani, and I, we are checking out.