Power of positivityPublished 7:43pm Monday, April 15, 2013
Some tennis players disarm their opponents with a wicked serve or a screaming volley. Washington’s Luke Ainsworth prefers killing with kindness.
While so many netters are quick to show frustration on the court, fling rackets and get flustered, Ainsworth takes an anti-McEnroe approach, shaking off miscues and bad calls the way a dog does flees.
As a result, the Pam Pack junior has risen from the ranks of exhibition player a year ago to the team’s sixth seed and holds an 8-4 record midway through the season.
“It’s all about mentality,” Ainsworth said. “Tennis is a mental sport and if the other guy gets in your head you’re done. You have to regroup or something, otherwise you’re done. … It’s all about how you use your emotions.”
Ainsworth’s emotions run the gamut from Joe Cool to class clown and his easy-going personality has caught the attention of more than just his own coach and teammates.
“He always has a positive attitude. Always,” Washington first-year coach Miranda Whitley said. “It doesn’t matter if he is losing horribly or winning by a blowout he’s always got a good attitude.
“Other coaches have told me good things about his attitude. Other players said they like playing against him because he’s so fun and outgoing and always positive. … he smiles even if he’s losing, he’ll make jokes with the person he’s playing against but he takes it seriously, even if his attitude isn’t serious”
Ainsworth, who plays on the Pam Pack soccer and swim teams, acknowledges that there are times when his temper flares but he is quick to pull out the fire extinguisher.
“I definitely do get angry sometimes. Sometimes I think ‘Agh! I could have had that shot’ or ‘Why did I hit it down the line eight times in a row when it clearly wasn’t working,’” Ainsworth said. “I feel like every player gets mad at one point. It just matters how you use that to better yourself. I like to go out and practice, practice, practice.”
So far the practice has paid off as Ainsworth is four games over .500 as a singles player. In doubles play, Ainsworth has been partnered of late with standout freshman Holt McKeithan and feels the duo can make some noise in the postseason.
“I would eventually like to go to conference with Holt McKeithan. He’s a great doubles player,” Ainsworth said. “I love working with him. He has great sportsmanship and he’ll crack a joke once and a while. Plus, he’s just a great player.”
Ainsworth’s not so bad himself. Upon the conclusion of his sophomore season the rising junior dedicated himself to improving his game. Now the trick is to show that improvement on a consistent basis.
“Consistency is a big thing,” Ainsworth said. “I’ll have an amazing rally and then the next point I’ll whack it into the ground and completely mess it up.”
Though his vame may run hot and cold, there’s no doubt his positive approach will remain consistent and so will his love for the game.