I am not a sports person. Despite having the rules of many games- cricket, basketball, and soccer explained to me several times, I am still profoundly confused about how it all works. Although I have teams, I support due to my family’s allegiances, I have hardly watched any games. However, once a year, tennis consumes my life. Each year, I tune into the Australian Open, keen to see Aussie tennis players make their mark. One name seems to loom larger than any other among the countrymen.

Nick Kyrgios is the man Australia loves to hate. Kyrgios smashed his way into the pro circuit at the age of seventeen. Fresh off a junior grand slam win, much to the delight of Australians, Kyrgios was a clear talent. Beating the world number eight in his first game in the main draw of a grand slam seemed to be a sign of the many great feats to come. In 2015 Kyrgios became the first teenager to reach two grand slam quarter finals since Roger Federer. Kyrgios began to topple the big names- Federer and Milos Raonic been just some of them. However, the cracks were already beginning to show. Violations and penalties abounded. Racket smashing, abusing the umpires and speaking back to the crowd were just some of the behaviours Kyrgios began to develop. Kyrgios was not a new breed of player- there had always been bad boys in tennis. Many pinned it down to age and inexperience and some were even glad to see the sport injected with personality. However, then came the alleged tanking. Boredom and frustration plagued Kyrgios during his games. It always seemed that he had something far better to do than be an elite sportsman. Kyrgios, who was clearly top 10 material, broke into the top 20 and then seemingly couldn’t be bothered. He dropped through the rankings and seemed happy in the obscure safety that a ranking in the 50s offers.

Australia still latched onto Kyrgios. After the retirement of Lleyton Hewitt, there had been a search for the nations next tennis star, and it was evident following several allegations of tanking that Bernard Tomic would not be the one to fill that void.

Every time the Australian Open comes around, the media enters a flurry of excitement. Will this year be the year that Kygrios manages not to implode? Will he finally meet his potential? Kyrgios had an exciting 2019, reaching the late stages of many tournaments. He has proven himself to be a winner, amassing six Association of Tennis Players (ATP) titles. Every time people got their hopes up, Kyrgios smashed them down. At the Cincinnati Masters, Kyrgios managed to set a record, but not one worthy of praise. He was fined more than what most people earn in a year, $113,000 for misconduct, more than any other player in one go in history.

This year, at the Australian Open, I was watching Kyrgios’ fourth round clash with then world number one Rafael Nadal. He kept a level head and the match was tight. I was impressed with Kygrios’ composure until, in the third set, he smashed a racquet. It seems that Kyrgios, at least for now, remains unable to become a true champion, purely due to the antics in his head.  

Unpredictably, an athletes conditioning is just one part of their potential success. Arguably, one’s inner psychology is a far more important factor for success. The ability to motivate oneself in the face of adversity, visualise one’s success and maintain focus is essential to success in any endeavour. The way that we talk to ourselves has a significant impact on our potential for success. Sports psychologists unanimously agree that Kyrgios has the potential to be a consistent top player, but his mind is holding him back. 

Having the right attitude is a significant factor in success. Our internal dialogue reveals itself to the world no matter how much we attempt to override it. This sentiment is reflected in the Bible, which extensively references the importance of having control over one’s own mind and therefore one’s actions. In James 1:19-20 it says, “know this my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” According to Romans 8, our minds should be set on the Spirit which produces “life and peace”. When we set our minds on Jesus, we belong completely to him. A life with Jesus changes everything. Our actions, our mind, everything is changed when we accept Jesus. When we are consumed by ourselves and our own lives our mind is set on death. We get caught up in our own head and become stuck in our minds. What we choose to focus on is where our mind is and what will achieve in our lives flows on from this.

Where will you choose to focus your mind? Will your mind be focused on what you could achieved or what you have failed to do before? Will you choose to set your mind on Jesus and accept his peace or will you continue to struggle?

By Kira-leigh Josey


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