Our second baby is coming any day now
- we have a 21-month-old son Carlos already. This is why I decided to retire from playing professional tennis two and half years ago; my husband and I wanted to settle down, start a family and live in the same city for longer than a week.
Watch out for left-handers
. In tennis, that is. They can be a bit more difficult for right-handers to play against, because there aren't so many of them around. Being left-handed gives them an advantage when serving; they are able to slice a serve out wide to their opponent's backhand.
I'm a bit mixed up
- I play tennis with my right hand, write left-handed, throw a ball with my right hand and bowl cricket with my left arm.
I learnt what pain really meant when I had Carlos
; it was the most agony I'd ever been in, and it really made me think some of the tennis training I'd done was easy compared with having a baby. His birth was the most wonderful moment of my life, without a doubt as soon as he was born I forgot all the pain. It was worth it.
You can have all the ability
in the world, but if you don't have mental toughness, you'll never succeed. Tennis is definitely a mind game - it's all about outwitting your opponents; you're always thinking about how to exploit and capitalise on their weaknesses.
Train, train, train
. That's the only way to succeed. It takes a lot of drive and discipline to get to the top, and the top players train for hours a day, on and off the court. When they're not hitting balls, they're in the gym or running on the road. It's not easy.
Losing really makes me angry
. I'm a pretty competitive person, and I hate losing anything, even if it's just a card game. I was pretty infuriated when my husband beat me in a pinball competition - especially because he made a big deal about celebrating his victory. To pay him back, I played pinball until I beat every single one of his high scores.
I laugh every day
. Little kids are just so funny - Carlos makes me laugh so often. We tried to teach him the haka recently, but he couldn't really get the hang of it until he saw the All Blacks on TV. He started copying them, and at the end when he stuck his tongue out, we just fell about laughing. Priceless.
* Shelley Stephens, head coach at Milford Tennis Club, was a professional tennis player for 10 years and was number one in New Zealand for five of those years, with career high international rankings of 246 in singles and 132 in doubles. She is also a selector for the national under 12s, 14s and womens Federation Cup teams.