Back hand, Ace, Love, drop, winner, unforced error, rally….With such words built into it, is it any wonder writers fall in love with this sport?
But I fell in love with Tennis a decade before I became a writer. To me it was the other way round. Tennis made me a writer.
I started playing Tennis regularly 20 years ago. One of the things I like most about tennis is that it is a sport that can be played at any age and where there is a lot of interaction with different age and social groups. Children, adolescents, adults and older can play doubles together. A 16-year-old kid can easily beat an adult of 30 years for example, an older person of 60 can win the newest boy and so on.
It is a wonderful sport that makes people of all kinds to get involved with one goal: to play tennis and have fun.
I learned quite a few lessons from Tennis that life had failed to teach me.
1. Defeat and people’s reaction to defeat:
Perhaps no other field exposes one’s emotional maturity than sports. Bad losers indulge in lame accusations, putting squarely on the partner if it is doubles and, on the umpire, if singles. I saw players who blamed everything around them except themselves for losing. An elderly player once went as far as blaming his own shadow for losing! They were serving as horrible examples of what not to be in life and that as lesson in itself.
In Tennis, you need to understand your strengths and doggedly focus on leveraging them to your advantage. This has a synergic effect on reinforcing your ability to make strategies based on your strengths in life. Tennis taught me that the mind plays as important a role as one’s talent in playing against solid opponents.
3. Age is just a number:
Tennis taught me that age is never a barrier to starting any hobby or sport in life. Adults and elders can play against youngsters and can even beat young newcomers. I was almost 50 when I started. My college friend, who was the tennis champion for the university, and stopped after turning 30 mocked me when he found out that I began Tennis at the advanced age of fifty “you are starting tennis now at this age? What’s wring with you?” He passed the next year while I am still swinging my racquet!.
4. Have Fun:
Tennis taught me that having fun and joy while playing is more important than the mere obsession of winning. Having fun did not make me an easier opponent, and it, in fact, made me a better player.
5. Aim to evolve, not to win all the time
Tennis also taught me to focus on changing and evolving gradually rather than merely on forceful hitting. As a result, I try to be a better player in making fewer errors rather than playing better than my opponents. This lesson helped me in my writing career. I gradually evolved from focusing on structure, substance, and voice rather than on literary eloquence.
Life is like a game of Tennis; you have to fight hard to earn every point. Sometimes you win, while sometimes, you lose. The fear of losing inspires us to work hard, just like Tennis.
I urge you to pick up a racquet when the shackles are loosened in the new normal world.