This I Believe

Natalie - Wichita, Kansas
Entered on November 15, 2006

This I Believe

As a kid, my mother forced me go to tennis lessons at our local health club. I hated it, to say the least. It was hot, gross, sweaty, and no fun at all. Then, I went to middle school and decided to go out for my school’s tennis team. All my friends were doing it so I figured, why not? As it turns out, I developed a passion for the game. I began to play more and compete more and love tennis more. And as I played through middle school and high school, I learned some important life lessons which have led me to believe strongly in some things. Because of tennis, I believe that life is not about winning, but rather about trying my hardest and believing that I can win. Whatever else happens is out of my control.

I played a match my freshman year of high school against a senior girl who wanted to win against this unskilled freshman she was being forced to play. The match was in the heat of the day at about two p.m. and I had played two matches earlier that morning. This girl walked out onto the court like she owned the place and here I came, a goofy, awkward freshman, preparing to play this sophisticated and mature senior, or so I thought. We began to play and my opponent won the first set. “Ok,” I told myself, “Let’s go, Natalie.” And so I did. I won the second and third sets and the match. I was exhausted but elated that I had beaten a senior. After the match, my opponent would barely even shake my hand. What had I done? I told myself I could beat this girl and I did. It sounds like such a simple concept, but when it is applied to life it can become extremely complicated. There are always people, including myself, who think, “I can’t beat them,” and so they don’t. But if you ever stopped to think about it, why shouldn’t you beat them? What’s holding you back? The answer, as I have found time and time again, is myself.

At the other end of the spectrum is losing and learning something from that experience. This year, my doubles partner and I had a long and nasty match against a team to qualify for state finals. It was a three set match and my partner and I lost. Our opponents were nasty, and sadly, my partner and I were nasty back. After the match I thought, where did being nasty to my opponents get me? Definitely not state finals. I let my emotions and attitude get the better of me and I lost because of it. I learned a hard lesson that day, but it taught me that lowering myself to bad sportsmanship will never help me win. I learned that I need to block out everything, know that I can win, and play my game. This I believe with all my heart.