Anything can happen – and it often does! One of the old clichés in professional athletics is that on any given day in any given city, one professional athletic team can beat another team. Their standings in the won-loss record at that moment don’t really matter. That’s equally true in individual competition when you have players who are skilled and determined to do their best.
Kathy Horvath is a classic example. Kathy Horvath had every reason to believe that she would lose when she faced Martina Navratilova on May 28, 1983. Kathy was rated 45th in the world; Martina was ranked number one and had not lost a match all year. Martina had won 36 straight matches. Her record in 1982 was 90 victories with only three defeats. Her defeats were to highly-ranked players like Chris Everett Lloyd and Pam Schreiber. Furthermore, Kathy Horvath was only 17 years old and they were playing in front of 16,000 people.
As it often happens in matches like this, Kathy got off to a fast start and won the first set 6-4. Martina came storming back in the second set and blew her off the court, winning that set 6-0. They started the last set and it was truly nip-and-tuck. They were tied at 3-3 and Martina was serving. To everyone’s surprise, Kathy Horvath, the overwhelming underdog, won the set and the match. Someone asked Kathy about her strategy and she replied very simply, “I was playing to win.”
That’s significant. Too many people play not to lose; Kathy was playing to win. The message is clear. Play to win.
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