September 23, 2011 § Leave a comment
I guess you can say there has been two distinct stages of my life so far. That’s not so unusual for a 20 year old kid right? Most might jump immediately to the new dynamic of college as the biggest shift in living and thinking which a young adult encounters in modern life. And they would be right in many ways. When I ponder what could have been, however, I am taken back a few years before I had even began thinking about what school I wanted to attend.
Tennis has been a part of my life since I was three years old. In many ways, it really has been my oldest and closest friend. I began the way any young kid begins with a sport, heading off to the courts once a week for my lesson, and spending ten times more time laughing and fooling around with the other children than I ever did actually thinking about technique or tactics. But after about 5 years, I began to get good….
Very good. My best friend and I were beating any one close to our age at the local club. Our parents started increasing the time we spent on the court each week. First from one to two days a week, then to three, then increasing the sessions by one hour, then two. When we were 10 we began our tournament careers, traveling as far as Baltimore to play other ambitious kids who shared this unusual lifestyle. I spent my summers traveling to tennis camps in Florida, spending weeks away from my friends and family in order to get that edge.
This culminated with my sophomore year in high school. That year I had no more group lessons. My coach and I had fitness training sessions before school each morning, a nutritional schedule laid out for me each day, a four hour lesson after school ended, and then another weight lifting session at the gym after that. Then homework and repeat… And this was only on the off weeks between tournaments. Tournament weekends were filled with seven hour drives to Baltimore and D.C., my coach’s rigid meal schedule and workouts the night before a match, and his wake-up call at five the following morning so I could run on the treadmill before breakfast. Tennis was the only thing I thought about. And then I quit…
I was tired. Not just of the tournaments, but of everything. I spent the second half of my sophomore year hating tennis, detesting every time I was forced to pick up a racquet. By my junior year, I had convinced my parents to stop sending me to any more tournaments. And the rest of my life in high school fell into place, with the short high school season in spring being the only remnant of my tennis career.
But what if it hadn’t? It is something I often think about even now. Maybe I would have been playing college tennis as my childhood best friend now is. Maybe I could have even played at the next level, trying at this moment to break out on the pro scene. I know several of my former rivals who have accomplished it. My decision has forever capped my potential skill in the game (tennis is a sport dominated by young players; most women turn pro now at 16), but I like to think it has opened up an entire new world of experience for me. I want tennis to be something I love again, with the feeling I had stepping on the court when I was 10. Now that it’s not my life, I think it is finally possible. Maybe in Wilson’s multi-verse I’m now preparing to head to Melbourne Park in January, but I like to think my happiest self is sitting right here, typing a blog about tennis.