GRIFFITH | Perhaps it's like getting tackled from behind in the open field with the end zone in sight, or attempting a seemingly uncontested layup only to have a defender come out of nowhere to administer a facial.
The points themselves are often not the only things lost. Sometimes momentum and the will to persevere also go by the wayside.
Leonard Mathews, who has been Merrillville's No. 1 singles tennis player throughout his four-year prep career, has taken the wind out of many opponents' sails after running down and returning would-be winners.
"Defense is the key to my game," Mathews said. "I like to keep myself conditioned to where (long-winded volleys) will tire them out more than me.
"And I use my speed to run down any ball possible. When you can return a shot after the other guy has stopped playing thinking the point is already won, it can turn the match around."
Mathews, who advanced to the semifinals of the Indiana State Championships as a sophomore, will continue his career at Indiana Wesleyan University, where he will study marketing and sports management.
Mathews has been taking tennis lessons at Match Point Tennis and Fitness Club since he was 5 years old, often under the tutelage of Match Point tennis director Lonnie Wooden.
"Initially, we had to teach Leonard how to deal with the disappointments that come with playing at a high level," Wooden said. "With his strong desire and the time he has spent working on his game, he has grown into a top competitor."
Though many of Match Point's long-time students play for different high schools, they tend to support each other no matter what colors they wear. For instance, Mathews was continuously texting Wooden with updates of Highland No. 1 singles player Vanessa Madrigal's three-set victory over Kankakee Valley's Abbey Hamstra.
Madrigal's mother is a coach at Match Point.
"We have a pretty close-knit group here," Wooden said.
This summer, Mathews will assist Wooden and his staff in a variety of camps and programs offered by Match Point.
"What sets us apart is the intensity of our camps," Mathews said. "There will be a lot of running."