What does tennis mean to me?
Through the haze, my All-American opponent stood on the heat stricken court ready to return. I was 6-4, 3-6, 5-1 up and was serving not only for the match but also for the team win, against a College we had not beaten for 13 years.
The boisterous crowd quieted, I leant over to serve; a bead of sweat dripped of my brow and as it sizzled on the blue hard court beneath, an unstoppable voice in my head shouted, “You’re not going to win this.”
I lost the match – I cramped up in just about every muscle imaginable and I was left shattered in a heap on the floor as a whole team bombarded my opponent on the other side.
Tennis is a brutal game and I’ve definitely had a love/hate relationship with it. When I was a teenager I moved to Barcelona, Spain to study and train at Sanchez-Casal. I traveled the world a little and enjoyed a great social life but ultimately I fell out with tennis.
Slightly burnt out and ready for a new beginning I moved to America to study at Augustana College, in Rock Island, Illinois. I thought I’d give the tennis a try but wasn’t overly ambitious.
It wasn’t until I lost that match from 5-1 up in the third that I really decided to give it my all. Two years later we had to play the same team in the semi-finals of the year-end conference tournament and I won in three sets with the team winning 5-4.
I wasn’t playing at the very top level, far from it, but regardless of the level, tennis pushes you both mentally and physically equally in a grueling and addictive way. Tennis has taught me so much about life and about myself and I couldn’t imagine my life having not played it.