Thursday, June 2, 2011

Li Na: Half Killer, All Role Model

Li Na cracks a smile during practice.

You see that smile in the above pic? Well, that's one side of the 7th-ranked tennis player Li Na, but her other side is a killer. I'm envious because Li Na has mastered that art of being charming and funny off the tennis court, but on the court she is like a U.S. Marshal running down a fugitive measuring precisley before she pulls the trigger.

I'm envious of her perfect balance between being tough when she has to be and a fun-loving person the rest of the time. For me, I struggle with being too nice to the point of getting taken advantage of. That's why I see Li Na as a role model.

She's a Killer 

On-court, at her most dangerous her shots sound like heavy metal music. in that way, she reminds me of Lindsay Davenport. The most surprising characteristic about Li Na's game is that it's patient, making her a patient woman. Big Babe Tennis! I hear ya Mary Carillo!

But she's not just a brainless machine like Rocky IV's Ivan Drago, but she's got a strategy. She makes many unforced errors, and just as many winners like any big babe should, but she's learned to be smart.
She'll put just enough spin on the ball to keep her opponents off balance, and then she'll follow that with a ridiculously low and flat shot that jumps off the racquet like a bullet. Shooting the fugitive.

Big Babe Tennis

She's been described by her peers as "sneaky aggressive." While someone like Sharapova will broadcast her power shots with her loud screams and big windups, Li Na hits with a compact swing taking the ball early. Her winners often seem like they came out of nowhere. Davenport!

At 29 she's reached the last 2 Grand Slam finals: in a 3-set thriller at the Australian Open and the French Open. She's blossomed late in her career, and I love it. I'm 24 and I'm a late bloomer too. I've experienced things later and I often feel like I'm trying to catch up. Still, when success comes later, that means you're wiser and know what do with an opportunity when it's in your grasp.

So, who wouldn't want to be a tough, fun-loving, patient, smart, risk-taking and aggressive person? Well, that's what we all can learn from Li Na.

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