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Q. I've had the same tennis pal for years, but I need to up my game. How do I tell her?
A. Maybe she wants more of a challenge as well. Lob the idea of sharing time with a pro in semiprivate lessons where you can each hone your skills, suggests Julie Emmerman, a psychotherapist in Boulder, Colorado, who specializes in working with athletes. If she makes a racket, the ball is back in your court. Be honest: Explain that you value the time together, but you need to change up your game in order to grow in the sport. Acknowledge the awkwardness of the situation and emphasize that if you stop playing together, you'd still love to hang out with regular coffee or lunch dates.
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, May 2010.