Here's the thing about streaks: they end. The past 24 hours has seen Rafael Nadal's 37-straight clay court win streak come to an end; and, closer to home, the undefeated record of a tennis team I coach has also been upended. What does this have to do with Acting Tips For Tennis Players/Tennis Tips For Actors?
Every great story, every great actor or tennis player, and every great scene or point played, follows a very specific dramatic arc. Typically: 1) something in your life gets thrown out of balance; 2) you fight to restore that balance; and 3) balance is restored or you change or grow in the process. In magic, the three-act structure is couched terms of The Pledge, The Turn, and The Prestige. In the first part, the magician shows you something ordinary: a tennis player, for example (The Pledge). Second, the magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary, like win 37 clay court matches in a row (The Turn). The third part, the hardest part, is to somehow top all of that once the run has been snapped (The Prestige). Indeed, Rafa has already "restored the balance" once: having won 37 straight clay court matches since his early exit at the 2009 French Open to Robin Soderling. Perhaps that's what people want to see: how Nadal will respond to this latest call to action and defeat. I have no idea what Uncle Toni might be telling his young charge right now - but, in the classic three-act structure of modern storytelling, Nadal's loss this past Sunday in Madrid and the end of his streak on clay raises a dramatic question which I expect Nadal will answer in the very best tradition of humanity: he'll fight.
As actors and tennis players, an understanding of dramatic structure allows us to handle losses with hope, continually fight to move the story forward, and even create moments of magic.