Tennis

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic

This piece is about my high school tennis experience.

In the third grade, I signed up for AYSO soccer.  To be honest, I only signed up because I heard there were really good pot lucks.  When I actually started my first season I hated it; I guess I forgot that soccer included running and not just pot lucks.  The sport required so much running and I was way too slow and chubby for that.  The pot lucks didn’t seem to be worth the sweat, pain, and agony I endured throughout the season.  I told my mom I wanted to play tennis instead, but she forgot to sign me up.  I ended up quitting soccer after three long, brutal seasons and attempted golf because my dad was really into it.  When I started seventh grade, I quit golf because my dad put too much pressure on me and I finally got to play tennis.  I fell in love with it from my first practice.  I can’t give a specific reason why I liked it so much.  Tennis was a natural passion.  I was asked to play outside league, but my dad said no because he thought I wasn’t going to stick it out just like golf.  So I just did USTA, which isn’t an outside league, just practices for fun. 

When I became a freshman, I joined my high school’s tennis team.  My first practice was actually in the summer, right after I finished eighth grade.  It was nothing like those USTA fun practices.  I quickly realized this was the real deal.  And it all sucked, hard.  Especially the coach, he scared me. Even though he was nice, his presence was incredibly intimidating.  He turned the four tennis courts into a huge circuit.  The drills were intense and fast paced.  Once someone completed a drill on one court, he or she had to run to the next court and there couldn’t be a hole in the circuit; otherwise, we’d have to all stop and do sprints.  Of course I wasn’t dress prepared, so I did all of this in my Hollister shirt, denim shorts and skate shoes.  How horrid and stupid of me.  Our coach suddenly told us to stop and get water and stretch, so I thought hell was over, but it was only a preparation to run.  I remember telling myself, “There’s more?! I can’t even breathe.  I could seriously be at home watching T.V.”  We ended up doing sprints that day, suicide sprints.  We had to touch every line across the four courts.  During the run, I wanted to just stop and go home to eat ice cream, but I didn’t want to look like a weenie.  I thought I was going to puke, but I couldn’t breathe and that whole episode was a mess.  We did that about three times.  After practice the coach gathered all of us and explained that since it was summer time, that means a lot of conditioning for the actual season.  I wanted to quit, but my friends wanted to stay.  I guess they hated themselves.  My love for tennis slowly dwindled after the first day, yet I surprisingly stuck with it.  My freshman and sophomore year, I made it on the Girl’s Junior Varsity team. 

I made it on the Girl’s Varsity team my junior year.  With two years of experience, I was starting to become good, and in shape.  Unfortunately, my grades slipped that year, so I didn’t play as much as I should have.  Our first match of the season was against our toughest school, but I wasn’t eligible to play because of my grades.  I was failing English and my coach was so pissed off at me.  He made me cry, but then again, he made me cry a lot.  Again, I barely played and that hurt a lot. 

Senior year was my final season of tennis.  It looked to be a real promising season: my grades were higher than usual, my confidence was finally showing, and I was at my fittest.  During the fall, our girl’s team played soft tennis and my partner and I ended up placing first overall for the west side.  For the regular season, I was first doubles.  Our team was strong and we finished the season with only three matches lost overall.  We qualified for OIA Championship and made it to the finals.  Only one thing, it was on April 7th, the day after prom.

I stayed out until 3 A.M that night and had to wake up at 6 A.M.  When I arrived to the courts at 7 A.M to warm up, I was extremely tired, nervous, scared, and excited.  My dad and uncle actually came to watch me so that added more pressure.  Since it was OIA Championships, our coach said if we won, we wouldn’t have to do our end of the year run, which was a three mile uphill run that start at ABC Land and ended at the top of Palisades.  I thought to myself, “Hell no, I’m not running that for the fourth time.”  Even though the run itself wasn’t too bad, not running is obviously still the better option.  And being OIA Champs sounded quite lovely.

Our lineup was different from the usual.  My partner switched with our first single’s so I’d have more of an advantage.  We knew that our first singles would lose anyways because our opponent’s first singles was state champ three years running.  As the matches were playing, we were all pumped.  Even though our boy’s team didn’t make it to champs, they came out to support us.  The atmosphere was tense, which didn’t help to my nerves.  Our first singles lost, as predicted.  Our second singles and second doubles won.  The overall score was 2-1 so it was on our third doubles and my partner and I to win.

Finally my partner and I were called to play.  Still nervous and anxious, our warm up went better than usual.  Then we spun our racquets to start the match.  This was it.  All the years of extreme hard work and dedication lead up to this one match.  I knew I worked as hard as I could, I knew I deserved this.  Our opponents were of course the people that I lost to during season.  I knew they were good, but I knew I wanted it more.  As the match progressed, I became more comfortable.  I was hitting shots that I’ve never hit before.  My serve was on point and I felt confident.  The energy of the crowd was unbelievably crazy and I knew everyone was rooting for my partner and me.  We lost the first set, 3-6, but won the second set 6-3.  I knew we could win, it was so close.  The final set was determined by a 10 point tie-breaker. 

10 measly points and the title was ours.  Unfortunately, it made me uneasy.  I started to lose hope in myself and I just felt attacked by all the negative thoughts in my head.  This is when I realized how mentally tough of a sport tennis is.  It was 9-8, we were up.  We just needed one more point and the title was ours.  My partner lost the next point.  9-9, but it was win by two.  I lost the next point, 9-10.  What the hell was I doing?!  Of course the match point was on MY serve.  My first serve was out.  My second serve was in, and our opponent returned it to my forehand.  I returned it back and I knew it wasn’t going to go over.  I was right and we lost.  At that moment I started crying uncontrollably.  How the hell could I throw that match away?  All my hard work just went down the drain.  Our coach came and talked to us.  He told us that was the best we’ve ever played and he was still so proud of us.  My team came and hugged us and told us it wasn’t over yet.  Our third doubles was still playing, but unfortunately, they ended up losing.  We lost the championships on our senior day. 

When I got home, I continued to cry my eyes out.  And this continued for months.  My last shot that lost the match haunted me for months and it feels like it took me years to get over it.  I was in a bad funk.  I didn’t want to do anything.  I didn’t want to try in school, tennis, or in life but I still had States championships.  I knew I wasn’t going to win, but just making it would mean something.  I reached the fourth round and we ended up losing to the same girls we lost for the OIA Championships.  I basically lost to the same girls three times, and that was the end of my tennis career.  Through all the hell practices, tough matches, and break downs, this sport taught me so much.  Tennis taught me how to push myself to new limits, how to never give up, and how to be mentally and physically strong.


Submitted: December 11, 2014

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