8 Years of Knowledge

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Sports  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is a short story of a Tennis coach who changed my life upside down during the 8 years that he was my coach. Tough story to handle..

Submitted: November 22, 2011

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Submitted: November 22, 2011

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 Eights Years of Knowledge

It was surprisingly a bright day in the middle of the winter. The winter in my hometown was always pretty dry, but I remember this one being extremely hot and humid. Like every 6 year old boy, I was watching TV and thinking how I can manipulate my parents to buy me the new toy I just saw in the commercial a few minutes ago. The only idea I had is to cry until they will lose their patient and ask where and what to buy. I was prepared doing it, and I thought about all the possibilities that could happen, and I covered all of them so I was sure I’ll get my brand new toy in the next few hours. After 20 minutes, I heard the door opens. I ran to the door to catch them before they take off their shoes and then it will be much easier to convince them, but when I saw that it was my sister I suddenly froze and just said; “Where are mom and dad?” Then something strange happened. She just hugged me and said “It is my happiest day ever! They drove to sign me up for a tennis class”. The only thing that was on my mind before my sister arrived is TV, food and toys. “What is tennis?” I asked, but my sister already was on the phone telling her friends about the “exciting” news.

It took one month to convince me to go to my sister's tennis class. We were driving in the car, I was in the back as usual, while my sister, that was 10 years old was sitting in the front. She had already gotten her whole “professional equipment”, which was a reminder that the plan of “crying and getting what I wanted” wouldn't work. When we arrived to the tennis court I couldn’t possibly think that I’ll see these courts almost every day in the next 8 years of my life.

The wind was really strong; it was almost like the universe wanted to challenge me. All the people around the court were surprisingly really quiet. I took a deep breath and I hit the ball. The next thing I remember is me in the car with my first trophy. “It was an amazing game Nikita!” Alex said. Alex was the coach of my sister, and after my sister decided that she didn’t want to continue with the tennis practices, he took out all his anger on me. It was the hardest two weeks of my life. I ran four days a week, trained on a daily bases, he was picking me from school when my parents couldn’t drive me to the courts. Eventually all this effort paid off, because of the trophy that was right next to me.

The guys in the news said the storm will cause a delay and all the flights will be canceled, but it didn’t bother Alex while he was already in the parking lot waiting for me. “For a 13 year old boy you lost your ability to hear really soon. I called you 5 times! Why do you have a phone if you never answer??” he said while I was putting my luggage in the back seat. “Sorry Coach, but you can’t blame me, it is 4 A.M right now” I answered hopping that he would understand, but I knew Alex too good, therefore I knew he would make me feel sorry that I was late, and I had the feeling that it will happen during our first practice in Austria. Every tennis player in Israel knows that to be number one in Israel is not the top of the career, so after winning some national tournaments in Israel, my parents and Alex decided that I should try to play abroad. I was against this decision because I was okay with being the guy who never played tournaments outside of Israel, but Alex thought that it is a waste of time and money to practice so hard and to play only national tournaments, so we all went to Austria to see how I could handle the top players of my age.

When I first met Alex I wasn't sure that I wanted him as my coach.  He was really angry all the time, it seemed like he really hated his job. It all changed when I got to know him better as a person and not as a coach. He invited my family, and of course me to his son's wedding. The wedding took place on the beach so we had to drive three hours to get there because my hometown is in the middle of nowhere. When we arrived I imagined Alex welcoming us in his tennis outfit and his 10 years old tennis shoes, but when I saw him I was in shock; He wore a light blue suit with black shiny shoes. He looked so happy and calm. The moment he saw us he did something that I'll never forget, he smiled! It was the first time that I saw him showing any kind of kindness. He hugged us and then he looked at me, the 13 year old boy that was just another one out of many other kids that he used to train with a look that says "Sorry for being so tough with you but it is for your own good, and I'm happy that despite all of that you respected me and my family with coming to the wedding".

The trip to Austria was pretty successful so we decided that when I'll have a break from school we will go to Spain with two more guys to play some tournaments and to train with a few Spanish players, which at that time were the best tennis players under 16. I remember this trip not because of the Spanish players that were so focused in their target of becoming the next number one in the world, and not because of the "Costa Del Sol" which was the most amazing coastal plain I have ever seen, but because of Alex, that showed me again how big his love was for the players he used to train. During 3 hours a day Alex was the worst. He yelled at us, made us feel that we are wasting our time because we are not good enough anyway, but we all knew that it was his way of coaching, and most of the time it led to good results so we didn't mind to suffer for 3 hours a day. During the other 21 hours he was the most supportive, amazing, kind, smart and professional person I ever met. Anything that I wanted to know and I couldn't ask my parents for some reason he was always there for me to support my decisions or the opposite, to change them.

It was a nice windy Saturday when I got the call from Alex, the call that changed my life. I was surprised that Alex called me because we had a fight two weeks earlier about me wanting to move to a tennis academy in the north. He told me that if I wanted to go to the next level and go to an academy so I shouldn't do it in Israel. I was 14 and I was scared to leave my friends and family behind and go by my own to another country, but I still wanted to see if I can play in the world tour and the best option I had at that moment was to leave my hometown. I tried to convince Alex to apply for coaching in the academy but he didn't want to leave Beer Sheva, the city I grew up in, and I could understand him, I guess that I just didn't want to. We didn't talk for two weeks but it felt like a year for me. "Come to my place please, we wait for you", it was the first time I heard fear in his voice.  My parents were out of town so I took a taxi. I was hoping for the best, but deep inside I knew that I'm fooling myself.

05/15/2007, this is the date that we were all standing in front of Alex's grave. The doctors discovered a Lung cancer during a regular monthly check. It was too late to do something because apparently Alex was sick for the past two years without knowing it. The tennis center couldn't hire Alex anymore because of the cancer but he still continued showing up in the tennis courts on daily basis. I wasn't with Alex in his last moments because I left home and went to the academy. One of the reasons why I left is because I couldn't stand that Alex was dying in front of my eyes. We never did stop talking over the phone, until I got a phone call from my parents with the devastating news.  


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