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Tennis Coach Steve Wilkinson's Unusual Approach To Winning

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Ross Reynolds speaks with Steve Wilkinson, a member of the U.S. Professional Tennis Association Hall of Fame. He was the winningest coach in college tennis while at Gustavus Adolphus College for 39 years from 1971 to 2009.  

He has coached 46 players to 87 all-American honors. This, despite the fact that he de-emphasizes winning. Winning is everything in our society, but Wilkinson says, "it's the one thing we can't control." He believes the successful player demonstrates love, acceptance and trust by following what he calls the Three Crowns:

  1. Commit to a  positive attitude and focus on what you did well.
  2. Give full effort: Don’t give up or quit.
  3. Model good sportsmanship: Focus on accuracy, not winning at all costs.

Wilkinson played competitive tennis for many years and was ranked number one in the U.S. in the 45-, 50-, 55- and 60-and-over divisions. Six years ago he was diagnosed with kidney cancer and given nine months to live. "You stay brave by focusing on things within your control," Wilkinson says of living beyond his diagnosis. "None of us know when our last day is going to be."
Wilkinson’s new memoir, "Let Love Serve," has just been published.