Which team are you on?
Watching three of my daughters play tennis this summer has reminded me of a book I read earlier this year: Open: An Autobiography, by retired tennis star Andre Agassi.
Andre begins by pointing out that the terminology in tennis is the language of life, which is something I had never noticed before and is unique to tennis:
It’s no accident, I think, that tennis uses the language of life. Advantage, service, fault, break, love, the basic elements of tennis are those of everyday existence, because every match is a life in miniature…
Points become games become sets become tournaments… It reminds me of the way seconds become minutes become hours and any hour can be our finest.”
I now think of that every time I say something like, “do you want to work on your serve today?” Such phrases have double meaning now.
Andre admits in this book that he hated tennis with a passion even though he was so good at it.
His father forced him to play tennis as a child even though he longed to play a team sport.
He went from being the #1 player (which was his father’s goal for him) to sinking so low he had to spend several months playing in the equivalent of the minor leagues in tennis.
He was finally able to rise again and play at a consistent level after he had an epiphany…
He realized he did have a team after all – his new prep school for disadvantaged children in Las Vegas.
This motivated him like nothing before ever did.
And he finally focused on his own goal – winning all 4 Grand Slams. He won the French Open in 1999, 13 years after turning pro (many pros retire before the 13 year mark).
As a “tennis mom” this book is a good cautionary tale. Sports are best when viewed in this “life as miniature” way. By doing so, I hope my girls will lose fewer “break points” in the real word, have more “Advantage, Miss Ashland” scenarios and always have an awareness of which team they are on.
Tagged with: Tennis
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