Kubler and Hijikata: Commitment Without Confidence is Key


During their truly unbelievable run to becoming the first wildcard Grand Slam doubles winners since Jonothan Marray and Frederik Nielson won 2012 Wimbledon, Jason Kubler and Rinky Hijikata have become the poster boys for one of my favourite sayings:

“Confidence comes after committing without confidence for long enough, not before”

To give some insight into the unlikelihood of their victory, less than 2 years ago I watched Rinky lose several doubles matches while forming the #3 partnership on his college team as part of my consulting with UNC where he attended.

That’s right, Rinky was playing #3 doubles in college tennis, and sometimes losing!

And at that same time, I was working with Jason to help him navigate the incredible mental challenge of recovering from ANOTHER surgery (what exact number this was for him I’m not sure but he might just have had more major surgeries than any other player on tour). At the time he took up work experience in real estate sales as he seriously contemplated giving the game away…

So when they received a wildcard into this year’s Aussie Open, playing doubles rarely and never having played together, in Rinky’s words:

“I think we were just happy to be in the draw to be honest, and then we looked at our draw and thought if we could win one match that would be a pretty good effort.”

Understandably, Kubes and Rinky did not believe in themselves. After all, self-belief is largely a result of previous experiences.

And when they went down 5-0 in 15minutes against the 6th seeds in round 2, getting ‘completely chopped’ as Rinky described it, it looked like they were on their way to the exits. But somehow they started committing to a gamestyle that would eventually carry them all the way to the title – they started going incredibly aggressive – and came back to win in 3 sets…

In the third round they once again looked beaten down 6-1 4-2 and a match point. But they kept committed throughout and came back to win.

This match was a confidence tipping point.

Before then they had been committing well even though they didn’t believe. And these 3 matches was long enough to give them the experience to build the confidence.

As I said, confidence comes after committing without confidence for long enough…not before.

So when they stepped out on court against the #1 seeds in the quarter finals they had earned the confidence and the tennis they played from that point on was simply unbelievable.

Frankly, some of the best doubles I’ve ever seen…

There’s so much we can take from their story. The fact that Kubes is still even playing tennis is amazing.

As Rinky’s coach Mark Draper replied to me when I text him after they won the title: “Incredible mate….can’t believe it”

But the most important lesson for me is this:

If you believe you need confidence to commit to helpful action, you’ve got it the wrong way around.

In reality, we need to commit without confidence for long enough – more confidence then tends to appear over time.

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