***Luke Saunders is from Nova Scotia and has been training at ACE Tennis, Burlington, Ontario, since September after many years of flying up to train for days and weeks at a time. Luke is Atlantic champion in all age groups, East coast open champion, top 16 U18 in Canada and top 6 U16 in Ontario. ONcourt met with Luke and asked him a few questions.***
ONcourt: Luke, tell us about your experience at the ITF in Burlington this year. You played an outstanding match against the 2nd seed taking him to 3 sets. How did you prepare mentally going into the match? Did you think you had a good chance to get the win?
Luke Saunders: My best tournaments are usually when I’m extremely organized before the event with my practice, nutrition, rest etc. This tournament was no exception. I was prepared and all I had to worry about was playing my best tennis. Going into my match against the second seed I took a slightly different mental approach. In my head I knew that whatever he had to throw at me, I would keep moving forward one step at a time, which is a calming feeling. Knowing that you are going to push through whatever your opponent does and keep moving forward seems to take the nerves out of you before the match. In my head I never really know if I’m going to win or lose. I love winning, and I really want to win every match I play, but all I can do is all I can do, as long I’m following my game plan and never backing down, every match is a win in my head.
ONcourt: Not only did you play in an International Tennis Tournament this past week, but we hear you also competed in a high level curling tournament. And from what we hear you are quite the curler! Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Luke Saunders: I really enjoy curling and I have been doing it from a young age. Both my parents were National champions and I learned a lot from both of them. Curling, believe it or not, is possibly the only sport out there that might be more mentally draining then tennis. After a long curling game your brain is fried, you can barely see straight, every shot has to be examined and broke down into how your team can get the most points in the end. So to me curling is really good training for tennis because you should be playing every point like the match is on the line, and that every shot makes a difference in the out come even if you may not notice it during the match.
ONcourt: Since your move to ACE Tennis is September what has made the biggest difference in your game?
Luke Saunders: The biggest difference in my game since moving to ACE would have to be my independence. I feel like I control myself on the court a lot better and I don’t depend on anybody during my matches except myself. Living on your own shows you that all you need is yourself, and as long as you really believe that you can achieve your dreams and goals anything is possibly. Yes, I’ve learned all this by simply doing the dishes a few times…
ONcourt: What’s the next step for you in your tennis?
Luke Saunders: The next step in my tennis is trying to secure a scholarship for the Fall of 2012 to a NCAA division 1 school. This has turned out to be quite the project, making sure you keep contact with all the coaches, find people to talk to the schools for you, find suitable schools that you’d like to attend, and studying for your SATS, is more of a workload then people may think.