I have always missed youth. The time in my life where I didn’t have a worry in the world, where a stressful day consisted of the twenty minutes of homework I had to do before getting ready for sports practice. That lifestyle is absent in today’s society. I feel like I live in the kind of world where I am struggling to fit in one hour a day for exercise, relaxation, or just well needed sleep. The kind of world where an extra twenty minutes of studying takes priority over a run on the track. Where if I am not stressed out for some reason I feel guilty about it. Every now and then I need some time to do something for myself. Something that will, even if just for a few minutes, give me the opportunity not to worry. I need an escape from reality.
Tennis has always been a part of my life and it is what I love to do. It’s my escape. It’s what I believe in. I believe in the rush, the long points that leave me with a sense of accomplishment, even if I lost. I believe in the opponent. I believe in engineering the perfect point, moving my opponent around side to side, forward and backwards, waiting for the perfect time to strike. I believe in the fence, the metal cage acting as a barrier from the outside world. I believe in the court, the 2800 square feet of green pavement that produce the perfect sound when my feet skid after stopping from a short sprint. I believe in the three foot net, separating my space from my opponents, providing me with an area that for that time belongs to me and nobody else. I believe in the silence followed by the roar. The perfect balance of sophistication and competitiveness. The sock tan. The fist pump. The perfect serve. I believe in topspin, slice, forehands, backhands, and the drop shot. I believe in the blistering sun reflecting heat off the court. I believe in the handshake, representing the unmistakable respect and the only time in the match my opponent is allowed on my side.
Tennis takes me to a place unrivaled anywhere else in my life. It is the indescribable feeling I get when I step on the court. Everything just gets tuned out. There is no work, war, high gas prices, telemarketers, book reports, expired milk, old laundry, or fire drills at 2am. It is just me doing what I love.
Most of all, I believe in the fact that tennis has never changed. It is a sport that at the start a uniform consisted of a business suit and dress shoes. A sport that can be played by the rich and the poor, the old and the young, the talented and the downright un-athletic. I like knowing that if I traveled back in time 100 years, I would be able to find somebody to play with, because tennis is a sport for life.
Tennis is my escape. I believe in the fact that tennis will always be there. I love it because it takes me back to that youthful feeling, that I don’t have a worry in the world. From my early days influenced by McEnroe’s childish antics, to currently imitating Nadal’s backhand, one thing has never changed: Tennis has always been there for me. It has shaped who I am today, and I am thankful for every minute of it. Even after all the broken rackets, double faults, rolled ankles, lost tiebreakers, conditioning drills, blood and sweat, it has all been worth it. Because for that short period of time on the court…I’m free.