Anyone who’s ever met me will know: I love tennis. It gets a little more complicated when I think about why I love it though, and what it really comes down to is not explainable in one simple sentence. With the freedom to write about anything tennis related, I thought, “What’s better than a list about why I love it?” So I made one. And as usual, I bullied my office mates into giving me their opinions, too:
10. Stress reliever. There is something about being out on court, running around, sweating it out and hitting tennis balls that just makes me feel better. My endorphin production increases (I get my runners high when I play), my anxiety levels lower, I sleep better, I relax, and I stop thinking about all my daily stressors. I don’t even realize I feel better until I get off the court. Even when I’m not enthused to play, I get out there and voila! I’m happier. It’s like magic. Tiffani hit the nail on the head, saying,
“To relax some people like to hit the beach or pool. I like to hit fuzzy yellow balls instead. Tennis is perfect to rid yourself of the day’s pent-up aggression. Smack a few forehands and backhands, and you’ll start to feel better. I know I do. Tennis is a chance to refocus my energies — and my brain — on something other than life’s stresses. It gets the blood pumping, and the adrenaline flowing. Here’s one way to look at it: Each bead of sweat you have to wipe from your brow is like wiping away the day’s stresses one worry at a time.”
9. It’s just me. Despite loving doubles (the teamwork, working with another person to win something together, the camaraderie), tennis was always attractive because it was an individual sport. If I lose, it’s because of me, because I wasn’t good enough on the day, because I made poor choices, or sometimes because I simply just got my butt whipped. I lose and I am defeated alone, and I know I have to work harder. But, BUT, I win? I did that. That was ALL me, and the achievement and success I feel is extremely, extremely satisfying. Brittany agreed, saying,
“I love the ability to create strategy against different playing styles and challenge myself to the fullest. I love that when I win in tennis I earned every bit of the win and even when I lose I was the one in control of the outcome.”
8. The Tri-Factor: mental, physical and technical. You can’t have one without the other two, and if you want to compete at a high level, you need all three. It’s not simple. In fact, I’ve seen (and experienced) how tennis can completely break people down. To be truly successful at tennis, you have to try to master all of them (think Fed, Djoko and Rafa), and each is its own struggle. It’s a constant battle, and to be better players, we must face these head on. Andy had a similar opinion. He said,
“I love tennis because physically its one of the most challenging sports, mentally it’s like a chess match, and it’s just you out there to take all the glory or all the blame.”
7. The fire. For me, being a tennis player comes hand in hand with being competitive. I want to compete. I want to fight it out. I want to play my best tennis, and that fire of competitiveness I feel is what makes this sport so damn fun. It’s not this way for everybody, but I find that drive to be the kick in the pants I need sometimes to get me fired up on court. George S. Patton (an American WWII General), summed it up for me exactly:
“Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge. It brings out the best; it removes all that is base.” Being on court is a battle, and I love to come out firing.
6. It’s a culture. It’s not just a sport, it’s my community, it’s a constant in my life. As weird as it sounds, it’s been one of the better educators that I’ve ever had. It brings people together, and I like that. It also extends past individual lives and into a broader spectrum. The culture of tennis is a worldwide phenomenon that is so varied and multifaceted, and can be enjoyed whether playing or watching. Tennis is French, American, British; it’s global, and the fashion, the glamor, the grind? It’s something to be revered. Tennis is a lifestyle, and one that I very happily live. For Karly, the tennis culture shows the depth of the sport. She said,
“I love, love, love the tennis culture. Everything about it is great. I love seeing the variety of outfits throughout the year, instead of basic uniforms. I love how the different surfaces shake up the competition a bit for players. Imagine if basketball players played on grass or clay. Do you think Kobe and LeBron could handle the change? Or how about the fact that tennis lasts almost year-round. Would you rather have one Super Bowl Championship or four Grand Slams? That’s like asking if you’d like one vacation day or four? All-in-all, do I like the culture of tennis? Psht. C’mon, ask me a harder question.”
5. Life lessons: Within a couple hours on court, I can move through the entire spectrum of human emotion: joy, anger, ecstasy, euphoria, hatred, loathing, frustration, nerves, anxiety, happiness, fire, passion, among others. It teaches us humility, perseverance, hard work, anger management and graciousness in victory and in loss. It is perhaps one of the most rewarding and maddening activities we can partake in. Dramatic? Maybe. Heartbreaking? Always. Tough? No question. Character building? Definitely. It gives us the ability to rise from the ashes, from the moment we step on the court, to the moment we step off.
4. It’s confused exercise. Sometimes the thought of a run, the gym or another boring form of exercise just makes me want to chain myself to the couch with a dozen doughnuts in my hand, soda in the other and pizza on the way. I do, however, love playing tennis, and – I’ll let you in on a little secret, it’s actually exercise! I know, crazy right!? I’m pretty sure tennis doesn’t realize that it’s exercise because it’s so fun and enjoyable. Jason spoke for all of us ladies on this one when he said,
“In order to keep my girlish figure, I need to workout and do cardio, but I hate running just to run. Which is why I love tennis. It’s an amazing workout where, after just one hour of intense hitting, I can be drenched and completely exhausted. Even though tennis is mostly legs, I think of it as a full body workout; I’m using my arms, back and core to hit the ball.”
3. Love. To put it simply, tennis is the love of my life. It is SO much fun. I have learned what it feels like to be truly passionate about something, and I count myself as blessed to have discovered, from such a young age, something that I enjoy being involved in so much. You see my true character: me at my finest, my worst, the good, the bad and the ugly. And hopefully, every now and then, you’ll see something great. As someone who started playing as an adult, Spencer could relate to this. He said,
“It’s being a kid again. It’s the same experience I’ve had growing up: playing with and against your friends, and putting your best effort against theirs. It’s the challenge of competition, improving and learning the intricacies, emulating the pros I admire…it’s having the competitive drive to want to beat players who are better than I, and most of all, it’s fun.”
2. Oh, the places I’ve been. From a small town in New Zealand on the bottom of the globe, to tournaments and training in different countries all over the world, to playing tennis and studying in Oregon for four years, to California in the “Happiest City in America” at a job that is ALL about tennis. Tennis has taken me so many places and given me so many opportunities. Sure, I still have plenty of places I need to go, but one thing I am sure about: Tennis is the vehicle driving my travels.
“Oh the places you’ll go. There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all.” Yes, until now, it was never known and I am about to drop a bomb on the world with this one, but Dr. Seuss was most definitely talking about tennis when he wrote that.
1. THAT feeling. The No. 1 reason I play? A perfect cross court forehand. A bomb of a serve. Crushing the huge winner. The feel of the ball off the string. As Chris eloquently put,
“It is tough to describe the feeling of just hitting the ball. There’s nothing like that feel on a well timed shot. How smooth and fluid it feels, the effortless power, the ball going exactly where you want. For me, it is especially great feeling on a drop shot when I know as soon as I’ve hit it that is going to land ridiculously close to the net. It’s as if the ball just floats off the strings with this incredibly soft and sweet feeling.”
And to that? I say, Amen.