December 18, 2008

4 Reasons To Keep Playing Tennis

Yesterday I had a lesson that went badly - really badly. For the last 10 minutes, I played out points crosscourt with my coach. I was receiving on the forehand side. I didn't even have to serve! Just play out the points.

I think I won one point out of maybe 35 serves. My returns were all over the place. I followed the wrong returns in. I couldn't hit an overhead. I couldn't hit a volley.

After this awful performance, my reaction was, of course, "I need to quit tennis."

And I woke up this morning STILL going over my poor play. But, I was finally able to get a grip on myself because I remembered - there are lots of good reasons to play tennis beyond winning points. Here are my top 4 reasons to keep playing tennis:

1. I have more and better friends because I play tennis. I started playing tennis because of the encouragement of so many of my friends. Apparently, I was the only woman in the neighborhood NOT playing tennis! And, as they promised, playing tennis has given us all something we can experience, practice, play, enjoy and, occasionally, hate together. I also have lots of new friends who I've come to know and love from my tennis teams. It is a fact - no one will sit with you and analyze each point of the match you just lost as intently as the partner with whom you just played.

2. I do more with my family because of tennis. I'm lucky. My husband is a great tennis player. He doesn't play regularly and doesn't really care to. He only plays to keep me happy. My older son is a natural tennis player - he's never taken a lesson and yet, I guess because he's a boy who plays other sports, he understands all of the nuances of spin and placement. His biggest fault is that, like many males, he's all about power. My youngest son wants to play tennis and loves to get out on the court with me. In fact, he actually LIKES to pick up balls and so it's great to have him out there. Even my daughter, who claims to be completely unathletic, can get out on the court and hit balls with her family. So tennis is something fun we can all do together that rarely degenerates into my husband and I yelling at the kids.

3. Guess what? I'm competitive! I honestly did not know this about myself because, sadly, I had not played any kind of sport since I was 12 years-old! But tennis has shown me that I like to compete and I like to win. Tennis gives me, and every woman I play with and against, a socially acceptable means of working out that competitive streak.

4. Tennis helps me stay in shape. Because I play ladies' doubles almost exclusively, I do not think I'm getting much of a workout when I play tennis. But I do make myself exercise on a very regular basis because I want every advantage I can get when I play. So I do aerobics several times a week because, while I may lack precision out on the court, I want my opponents to know I will always keep running down balls. I am also taking up yoga because I just can't get loose enough in my back, shoulders and arms to serve the way I would like. And I need to relax while I play. Maybe yoga isn't the answer, but what do I know? It can't hurt.

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