Tennis player credits mental preparation for his success

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BYU Photo
Sam Tullis hits a forehand shot during the MTSA/ITA Mountain Regional tournament, which was held in Provo Oct. 16-18. (BYU Photo)

Sophomore Sam Tullis wore mismatched socks during his tennis matches on Oct. 19—one of several “quirks” that Tullis has when he plays tennis.

According to Tullis, he started mismatching his socks during his sophomore year of high school because he was often too worried about “looking cool” while playing.

“I figured if I looked dumb, then I wouldn’t be trying to look cool and I’d just play tennis,” Tullis said. “I ended up winning state that year.”

Tullis now wears mismatching socks whenever he is feeling a little bit nervous about a match.

He also listens to “happier, slower, kind of acoustic” music before matches as part of his superstitious ritual.

His physical pre-match preparation includes stretching, getting enough sleep and drinking plenty of water. However, his focus usually revolves around the mental preparation.

“Tennis is such a mental sport,” he said. “The mental part, for me, is a little more important.”

There are times during a match you can be feeling really good, Tullis explained, but then the opponent will gain momentum, and it can continue to switch back and forth.

“I think the most important thing during a match is just maintaining,” Tullis said. “You know, taking things one point at a time. Keeping focused on the things you do best.”

He first gained interest in tennis when he was 10 years old and his dad had paid time off work.

“We just kind of fell in love with the idea of playing tennis,” Tullis said. “Our whole family kind of did. Jake and I are the oldest, and everyone has kind of followed suit. It’s been kind of the family thing.”

Tullis is the oldest of six children and they are all involved with tennis.  His younger brother, Jake, is also on the BYU men’s tennis team.

Sam Tullis won the singles draw at BYU’s intra-squad competition in September and hopes to continue winning.

“I want to have a winning season,” he said. “I don’t know about this year, because I’m aways off, but I would like to do deep in the NCAA tournament. This season I want to have a winning record and be able to contribute well on the team.”

During the ITA Regional Tournament Oct. 18-21, Tullis defeated No. 17 Lucas Taylor of Northern Arizona but lost a close match to No. 2 David Micevski of Utah.

Tullis also made it to the Round of 16 in the doubles draw with his partner David Ball where they were defeated by fellow Cougars Jeffrey Hsu and Sean Hill.

Hill won the singles draw of the ITA Regional tournament after defeating No. 3 Ricky Hernandez Tong of New Mexico.

The Cougars compete in the So Cal Intercollegiate tournament in Los Angeles Oct. 26-28.

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