Life lessons through the sport of Tennis

As I moved swiftly and subtly across the court, I surprised myself at my untrained skill with the tennis racquet.

It was a beautiful Saturday night for tennis. I had spent the majority of the day playing two baseball games at the neighboring Greenwood Little League and had somehow found myself with one of my dad’s old tennis racquets from his glory days in high school. The time was 6:45 in the afternoon, and across from me stood Nick Benitez, a junior at GCHS who also happened to participate on the boys’ tennis team this fall.

“First to six games, one set,” Nick said as I looked at him in confusion. Now, I’m no stranger to how tennis works and how it scores, but the fine print is something that’s definitely always been foreign to me. Tennis is weird. To win a set, one must win six games and win by at least two points. Both players take turns serving, and they serve an entire game; games usually last around 5-10 minutes and then every odd-numbered game they switch sides.

Now that I knew how to play tennis, it was finally time to start playing. Nick took the ball, and it was his serve. Once we got into it, I was actually very surprised at my skills. During the first game, I really kept up with Nick and won the game 45-40. I was shocked that I could keep up with someone who actually played on the team.

As we continued playing, there were multiple times when Nick seemed to give up on a ball that I knew he could have returned easily. That’s when a lightbulb went off in my head. What if Nick hasn’t been trying this whole time?

“Hey Nick,” I said with a confused tone. “Have you been going easy on me this whole time?”

All I got was a shrug of the shoulders and a chuckle. There was my answer. We continued to play, and I ended up winning the match by a score of six games to two. I left the court that night with lots of thoughts about how I played. I felt like I played really well as a first time player, but if Nick really went easy on me, it made it hard for me to really see how good I am at tennis.

Besides all the mixed thoughts I had about how I played, I also walked away with a valuable life lesson. Sometimes we must do things to have fun and not just to win. I went into that match, and all I wanted to do was win, and win I did. But looking at Nick’s perspective, he wasn’t looking for a win. He wanted to make sure everyone was having fun, and he did so by allowing me, his opponent, to score points as well.

But who knows. Maybe tennis could be my next big thing. After all, another valuable life lesson is never giving up.

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