This I Believe

Mike - Western Springs, Illinois
Entered on September 26, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: sports
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This I Believe

I believe in tennis and the things you learn from playing. I have been playing tennis for the past five years, and I never thought that I would learn anything from it except for where and how to hit a tennis ball.

That is until I tried out for the LT tennis team. I had always been a singles player, always staying back towards the baseline trying to physically wear down my opponents and beat them later on in the match. Then, after I made the LT team, our singles was filled out with guys that had no experience with doubles, so I stepped up and decided to play doubles for the year.

In the first three weeks of the season, I had been switched between four different partners, which makes adjusting your game to theirs particularly difficult. I still had to persevere and trust that once I got paired with a permanent partner, things would start to pick up and I would win more matches. Finally, about a week before conference, I got paired with a concrete partner at #2 doubles. We played well together, and got to know each other, and I learned how to adjust my actions to accommodate for his, and we started winning our matches. We actually finished the season with a record of 16-2.

Then conference came. We had to beat York, and they were stacking so we were actually facing their #1 doubles team. We were fighting to stay in the match, and we managed to bring the match to a tiebreaker for the first set. We lost it 0-7.

Our coach was furious. He literally told us to turn around and shake our opponents’ hands and walk off the court. We obviously refused, and we won the next 12 games straight because I

started to let my partner play his own way, and he let me play mine. We learned how to fit together, which is vital for any relationship in life to be successful.

Another thing I learned from the tennis season is perseverance. My partners got switched around a brutal amount, and I had very little time to get my personal game to work with my partners’. I had to stick with it and try to make things come together and win matches, but without knowing what your partner can and can’t handle makes winning much harder than it already is.

In the conference match I described earlier, after we lost the longest and most demanding set I have ever played, this perseverance started to manifest itself. I started sprinting down that last ball even though my opponent would win the point anyway. My partner and I fought through that first set, but we fought ten times harder to win the next two.

Tennis taught me how to interconnect with other people and to persevere, especially when you are down. These lessons are essential to survival in the real world.