Fortunately, the end of the match heralded my return to rationality. I reminded myself that my excellent relationship with Charlie and the positive role I intended to continue playing in his development would be a thousand times more important than any constructive criticism I could offer.
I wanted him to continue enjoying his tennis, and when he walked off the court, win or lose, I wanted him to look forward to seeing me. Furthermore, I knew he felt bad enough about losing without me piling on. He did all he could. (And, I reminded myself, he certainly held his head together a lot better than I did at his age).
I firmly resolved to keep my match analysis to myself until he asked me.
So after the match I just gave Charlie a hug and told him, "Tough luck, kiddo. Great effort! I love you to pieces." Then Nancy and I took him out for an excellent steak dinner.
To this day Charlie, who is now a sophomore at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo University, loves his tennis and plays daily.
In fact, we are going out to hit a few balls together this afternoon.