The time is 5:45 P.M. I’m still playing my tennis match almost two hours after it began. All of my teammates have finished their matches long ago and now all eyes are on me cheering me on, hoping that I can win. I’m sore, I’m tired, and I’m feeling the intense Southern Indiana heat. As I wait for my opponent to serve, I begin to question why I play tennis. Quickly, I dismiss the thought and focus on the win. Later, however, when I think about all that tennis has taught me, the answer is obvious. The benefits I receive outweigh the challenges I persevere. Tennis has taught me perseverance, passion, and communication, all crucial skills that have helped me grow as a person and will continue to be put to use long after I graduate high school.
In high school tennis, a player must win two out of three sets in order to secure a victory. If I win two straight sets during a match, I’m pretty happy because it means I will be able to give my body plenty of time to rest before my next match. However, this is not always my reality, meaning I sometimes have to persevere through long and difficult matches. This was the case during sectionals of my freshman year when I played a rival high school’s #3 singles players. We were having a real battle, both hitting amazing shots, but he had beaten me to capture the first set. Despite the disadvantage, the stakes were too high for me to surrender. The match was still undecided, and this was my team’s chance to win the sectional championship. Instead of backing down from the challenge, I was determined to use all my remaining grit to get that win for my team. With my mindset determined, I was able to utilize my remaining strength to secure two straight sets in order to win the match. I had decided to persevere despite the difficult challenge, and the feeling was great. Ever since that moment, I’ve been even more motivated to work hard and have developed a true passion for the sport. The challenge of new competition, never knowing how the match will unfold, these are the things I have grown to enjoy through high school tennis.
I had played tennis tournaments when I was younger, but for a time I quit competitive tennis to focus on basketball. I picked tennis back up in middle school and enjoyed it, but it wasn’t until high school that I began to really look forward to matches. The challenge of competition and the chance of winning for my school reignited that passion in me, and I started to really enjoy tennis again. I began to scout my opponents, making sure I knew their weaknesses, something I had never done previously. My teammates became my best friends as well, making the experience even more enjoyable. Once the calendar says August, I am ready to return to the courts and be out there with my teammates, winning against other schools while proudly giving my best effort to represent EDS.
Being on the tennis team has also helped me with my communication. As with most sports, communication is vital in tennis: I have to be able to communicate my struggles with my coach so that he knows what to tell me to improve. I also have to be able to tell my fellow teammates if there is a rogue tennis ball on their courts because if not seen, a player stepping on it can lead to an injury. In a school like EDS, where the student body is smaller in numbers, it’s crucial that this communication happens so we don’t lose a player to preventable injuries. Encouraging my teammates is another form of communication I use because, when I’m losing, positive words of encouragement help to give me the boost I need to continue to persevere and pursue improvements. I hope that by giving them positive words that I can help boost their confidence as well. The EDS tennis team is like a second family, and families support one another.
While tennis may not be the most popular sport in America, I feel that the skills that it has taught me have been beneficial to me both now and in the future. Tennis taught me resilience; not to give up when things get tough, but rather, that to persevere through difficulty is the only path to success. Tennis helped me with my communication skills; the ability to communicate my thoughts and emotions. Tennis may seem like a sport where two people simply hit a ball back and forth; however, it has been so much more than that to me. Tennis is where I learned crucial life skills and made amazing friends, things I will never forget.