How Joao Monteiro Became the Biggest Improver in College Tennis…

 

 

In 2015, I was privileged to be invited by Head coach Jim Thompson to work with the Virginia Tech men’s tennis college team…As part of this, I worked with the players directly and Assistant Coach Stephen Huss also participated in a PhD project throughout the season designed to help develop his skill in coaching mental toughness…During the season the returning players were able to achieve an average 25% improved singles win rate and an all-time best school ranking…

And one of those players was Joao Monteiro…

Joao completed his college journey in May as the most improved player in College tennis…

In this post I want to give you a summary of Joao's story which Coach Huss first told a couple of months ago....But also give you a glimpse of how Joao's development was in part a result of him embracing my 4A Cycle process and the VT coaching team's improved skill in helping him develop mental toughness…

Joao’s Freshman Year…

Joao arrived to Virginia Tech in January of 2013 after Coach Huss had convinced head coach Jim Thompson to give him a chance despite a less than impressive junior record and recruiting video...

A teammate later described him as scary looking, and he was…

Massive mop of hair, stubble, always looking at the ground…

He was quiet, unassuming, and was not really impressing anyone at practice…

He was not ready to play in the lineup…

After a really close 4-3 team loss at the kick off weekend where Joao did not play Coach Huss asked him his impressions of the match, he replied with, “it is like nothing I have ever seen, crazy pressure and atmosphere”.

About a quarter of the way into the season the coaches finally put him in against College of Charleston at No.6.

With the match clinched Coach Huss walked over to Joao and told him he would play a super tie-break for the third set.

He asked him if he was feeling a little nervous, to which he raised his arm and demonstrated that his hand was shaking uncontrollably.

Coach Huss quickly lowered it hoping his opposition didn’t notice.

Joao lost that match and went back to the bench to watch the next few matches.

So half way through his freshman season in 2013 Joao couldn’t make the starting lineup of a team ranked around 40 in the country…

But Joao eventually got in the lineup and was quite successful late in the season playing #6…

Joao’s Junior Year…

When I started working with the team in the fall of 2014 Joao had progressed quite well…

He was fitter, more confident, and the coaches reported that he was working much harder…

But he still had a ways to go mentally...

But over time, with Stephen dedicating himself to improving his skill in coaching mental toughness, and Joao engaging in my 4A Cycle mental toughness process by working with Stephen, Head Coach Jim Thompson, and myself…

By the end of his junior year Joao had become a strong #3 player and earned a national singles ranking of #115…

Fast Forward a Year to the end of Joao’s Senior year…

Joao just completed his senior year at VT and will go down as the most successful player in the school’s history on a national stage…

He beat 15 ranked players in 2016, including four of the top ten…

He was the only player in the nation to make the semi-finals of the National Indoors AND at the NCAA Individual National Championship, and finished with a top 10 national ranking…

He had come an incredibly long way from not being able to make the lineup in his freshman year, and had gone from #115 to #9 in his final year…

Here’s what Coach Huss said about Joao’s amazing college journey…

“The guy that walks out of Virginia Tech with an Economics degree in three and a half years is vastly different from the one that walked in. His tennis has improved immensely, but he has also developed his character tremendously. He has learnt how to lead, how to compete as good as anyone in college tennis, he has found confidence in himself and he now knows that anything he sets his mind to he can achieve.”

And one important reason this improvement was the combined work of the coaching team to improve skill in coaching mental toughness…

Here is an email from Coach Huss to the team towards the end of the 2015 season which communicates that improvement:

Hi Guys,

I wanted to reflect on a couple of things from todays match against Clemson.

I had 'Outcome Thoughts' come into my head numerous times today both during the doubles and the singles. Just like i hope you guys are trying to do i did my best to follow the 4A Cycle when that happened. I was not always successful, because i scoreboard surfed a little too much. When i thought about it i knew that i could not control what was happening on the other courts so i shifted my attention back onto the matches i was trying to coach and did my best to help.

It was a very tough day to play tennis. Some were better than others at just accepting the negative thoughts about the wind and cold and doing their best to put their attention on a helpful process. From what i saw all of you tried to do this but of course were not always successful. All we can do is try, and that is all coach Thompson and i ask you to do. I firmly believe that the 4A cycle has already had a small hand in our success as a team, and i also believe that if we all continue to invest time in understanding and applying it more often, then we will all benefit. I know i am a better communicator and coach because of it.

Good teams have to have heart, grit, determination, and be able to stand up to adversity. For me todays win was extremely satisfying because you guys showed that things don’t have to be perfect for us to still compete well.

I hope you will all remember that as we begin to travel more and face adversity on the road.

Proud of you all, we appreciate all of you trying to get better each day, and for competing hard for VT in any circumstance.

Lets continue to work, have a strong week of practice, and lay it on the line again next weekend.

- Stephen
And soon after Joao’s NCAA tournament run came to an end this year, I was very also proud to receive this message:

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 3.47.35 PM

If you'd like access to the Committed Action Worksheet that I used with Joao at VT You Can Get It Here...

Wherever you're reading this, scroll down. Leave us a question or comment, and all the best for the week ahead :-)...

 

Would you like to know more about the services we offer to help you improve your players'/your child's/your own  mental toughness?

YES PLEASE...