How we see or how we perceive the world in front of us is all a matter of perspective.

“Perspective” defined has two very different connotations. As individuals, perspective is referred to as a particular attitude or thought about a subject, feeling or situation. As an artist perspective is a technique, process or method.

Perspective #1: a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view

We all have particular attitudes or ways of thinking. In tennis we use our perspective to determine our opponents style of play. Tennis is a game of strengths and weaknesses. It requires hard work, perseverance, endurance and confidence. There’s a reason this sport uses the phrase “practice makes perfect”.

Your opponent can observe your footwork, timing and intensity to decide how to play their game. Seasoned players are familiar with the aggressive baseliner. They hit hard and deep. They love their ground strokes, allowing more time to react to each shot. The serve & volleyer prefers to act quickly, using intimidation to attack the net. The all-court player is comfortable using a variety of shots and strategies depending on the situation.

Positioning in tennis is critical. Get out of position and you are scrambling; stay in proper position and it could be the difference between winning and losing points, games or sets. Positioning is directly related to reading your opponent and the geometry (direction) of the shot.

A tennis court is made of up of lines, angles and a net that crosses the full width of the court. It’s easy to draw a tennis court when we look at it from an aerial view. The parallel baselines, sidelines and center service lines are all equally divided creating a uniform (flat) perspective. But when we start to look at it from the position of the player or the spectator the perspective gets more complicated.

Perspective #2: the art of drawing solid objects on a two-dimensional surface so as to give the right impression of their height, width, depth, and position in relation to each other when viewed from a particular point

How do artists take a three dimensional view and apply it to a two dimensional surface? Linear perspective is about the size, shape, and position of objects and how they are converging at a point on the horizon. One-point perspective is drawing objects to appear smaller as they recede or meet at a vanishing point. Two-point perspective consists of two vanishing points converging on the horizon. Three-point perspective is what appears above or below eye level (ants eye view or how that tennis lob appears at mid-court).

Let’s find the correlation between my opening reference to the definition of perspective…

Tennis is always a fun and relatable metaphor for life. It’s all about love, faults, follow-through, keeping your-eye-on-the-ball…and the element of surprise (think a killer drop-shot). The perspective tennis provides is that we have to focus on the “sweet spot”. Matches are won by points consistently well played. We have to learn from our mistakes and learn to adjust and adapt, like cutting angles to get to the ball, or changing your grip to get the desired spin on your serve. We love the people cheering us on from the sidelines but you alone are the one whose attitude and commitment will affect your game. Your mental game is as important as your “ready position” game.

Learning perspective from an artists viewpoint requires a similar approach to playing tennis. Artists also have strengths and weaknesses. We have to pay close attention to them and capitalize on the style we do best. We have to recognize the gradual gains and not let fear of failing allow us to quit. We have to focus on the here and now.

My family has a deep and wide tennis legacy. Growing up playing tennis at the “beach club” and in college gave me a backdrop for learning life lessons (grace & tenacity) on and off the court. My mom has a long list of tennis accolades. In college she played the Washington state’s junior college championship and beat them all for the men’s title. She also played for the University of Washington, two years in the Virginia Slims and went on to win numerous tournaments during her tennis career. Her dad coached her and also has a plethora of championships. How fun to know that he was the No. 1 senior player for the age 60 and 65 brackets from 1967-1977 and one year he won the national 70 and over grass-court doubles championship! My grandparents stayed active into their eighties, playing doubles three times a week. Most of my family members are natural athletes. Those who played tennis did amazing things with their talent (NCAA collegiate champions, participants in the Australian, French and Italian Open, Wimbledon and more). Interestingly they also went on to be amazing artists, ballet dancers, designers, antique dealers, event planners and educators.

Of course these are bragging rights but more importantly what these examples show me is that they worked hard, very hard and played every match point by point, moment by moment. If we focus on the now we might have the stamina to go the three or five set distance and not “break under pressure”.

Find something that you’re really interested in doing in your life. Pursue it, set goals, and commit yourself to excellence. Do the best you can.” — Chris Evert

It’s an exciting time for the tennis community. People are finding joy and distraction from the chaos going on around us. The US Open certainly is not the same this year, no fans in the stands — it will be a one-of-a-kind event watching from our living rooms and for the competitors on the court. Perhaps you want to tune in and check it out or hit the courts yourself!

My mom always said “focus, focus, focus”. I am back to the drawing board day after day. Play hard, have fun and surprise the world with your secret weapon.

Check out some fun sources with tennis perspective:

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