I don’t remember myself without tennis. I first picked up a tennis racket at the age of four and ever since then we have become inseparable. A lot has changed in my life over the course of these many years but tennis is and always will be a significant part of me. The love for the game, for me, is unconditional. Every time I step on the court I still get excited the same way I did when I was a child.
I turned pro at the age of fifteen and was fortunate enough to have a very long-lasting and successful 15-year career, right up until injury that tormented me for two years and forced me to eventually retire from professional competition. A life of a pro tennis athlete is definitely not ordinary, it’s extremely interesting, unpredictable and, on many occasions, very empowering, but behind all the glitz and glamour are passion and determination, discipline, daily hard work and the huge desire to succeed.
Over the course of my career I was blessed to be surrounded by the strong individuals who happened to be my coaches. Besides psychological and technical aspects of the game, they have taught me lifelong lessons. I still remember what one of my coaches has told me, “Anna it’s very easy to give up and lose and afterwards go to the locker room... anybody can do that, what differentiates the top athlete from everyone else is that hunger and the desire to succeed, to show up no matter what every single day and give 110 percent effort, win or lose”. Deep down we all know if we have given our best and if we tried our hardest. These are the sorts of things I try to convey to my students now that I am a coach.
My transition from competitive player to a coach happened quite smoothly. This was facilitated by the long (two-year) treatment of my injury, during which I was rethinking and analyzing my tennis career. I was thinking a lot about the strengths and weaknesses of my tennis, what I could have done to have a more successful career, and how should I proceed in the future. These thoughts are an important initial impulse in coaching.
Of course, all the knowledge and experience that I have acquired over the course of my career is beneficial towards my coaching because I can truly relate to my students, most of the time I know exactly what or how they feel because I went through the same experience. Besides teaching my students the physical and the technical aspect of the game, my goal as a coach is to impact the life lessons which I learned throughout my long career and to develop them into the strong characters, in return, they motivate me to keep doing what I truly enjoy.
The decision to end your playing career is a difficult one for any athlete and knowing when your time is up is challenging to realize. But make sure you are always looking forward and anticipating the next shot life throws at you. For me, it was a life of coaching, and just like my students I also continue to study the game, learn and improve on a daily basis.
Anna Tatishvili is the Associate Director of High Performance and Adult Programming at the Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning. Tatishvili is a former Top 50 ranked player in singles and doubles, and represented the Republic of Georgia at the Fed Cup on multiple occasions. During her career, she won 11 singles and eight doubles titles on the ITF tour, and won the doubles title at the WTA event in Linz, Austria. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.