"You have to have the mentality of executing your game when you don't feel like there's a lot of hope. I think the best feeling is when somebody pushes you to the limit and you dig down a little bit extra."
—Andre Agassi, Former Number One-Ranked Pro Tennis Player
It's easy to feel sorry for yourself when your on-field performance is below par. But regardless of the outcome, quitting should never cross your mind. Remember the old cliché: whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
The best way to push yourself in preparation for an opponent is to compete daily against a teammate who is better than you. The right training partner will motivate you and help you improve. If you can't find a suitable partner, make sure your coaches and trainers are willing to push you to the limit.
One athlete who credits much of his success to training partners and coaches is retired tennis star Andre Agassi. During the 1990s, the Las Vegas native went from being a teenaged prodigy [he turned pro at the age of 16] to a constant title contender, thanks to his strong preparation for matches.
Agassi's training program entailed two hours of on-court practice with his partner and coach Brad Gilbert, a former number-four-ranked pro, followed by two hours of weight room work with strength coach Gil Reyes. When his tank was empty, the former tennis icon would perform a series of sprints up a 320-yard hill, which he and Reyes dubbed the "Magic Mountain."
His training regimen pushed Agassi to the point of exhaustion, but it paid off during long set battles against top-ranked opponents. Accustomed to pushing his well-conditioned body to the limit, Agassi could simply outlast, and eventually triumph over, players with move advanced skills. At the end of 1999, he was ranked number one in the world.
Agassi's rigorous training program helped him win 60 Association of Tennis Professionals [ATP] titles, 17 ATP World Masters titles [second only to Rafael Nadal] and 870 career singles wins.
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