Shaped By Tennis

Essay by crazy53928 February 2009

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It was a hot sunny day and the temperature on the court had exceeded 100 degrees. I had been playing for three hours and I was down a set in the match and on the edge of defeat. My legs were aching, I was physically tired, and I had begun to doubt whether or not I had what it takes to come back and win the match. However, I knew the stakes were too high and I had put in too much effort too quit now. I had done the seemingly impossible having upset two tough opponents in the early rounds to reach the quarterfinals of the Southwest Junior Closed and place myself in this situation. Using my inner strength, I managed to focus and put together an effort to come away with victory. Like me, there are thousands of juniors in the United States from the ages of 8 to 18 who are seriously dedicated to tennis and already have or may someday go through a similar experience.

Many of them are playing or will play tournaments, with perhaps the dream of one day competing at Wimbledon or at the U.S. Open. Just like many of these young players, I can remember tennis having a profound impact on my life from the first time I picked up a racket until now. Tennis is a game that deals with all phases of technique, and shot-making, but it has taught me more than that. From taking private lessons to traveling for tournaments, tennis has helped me become more of a goal-oriented and determined person. It has also taught me about versatility, anticipation, and mental toughness. Playing competitive tennis has defined me as a person and has taught me to embrace challenges.

As a result of my years of dedication to tennis, I have learned that a champion is someone who can adapt to the particular circumstances, by analyzing the obstacles and selecting the most effective way of overcoming them. In other words, being versatile. Regardless of whether the sun is in my eyes or there a strong howling wind, or whether I am facing an opponent who is technically and physically stronger, I look to adjust to the situation. Versatility is doing whatever is necessary to win, whether or not it seems logical or not. This is also a lesson I have learned to carry over to my life as versatility in tennis is parallel to versatility in life. Competitive tennis has helped me become someone with more diversity and variety in my life. I am now capable of turning to varied subjects or tasks and am more responsive to change.

Having played years of competitive tennis, one trait that I have picked up is risk-taking. I have learned that to be successful in anything someone does, he or she has to take risks. Risk-taking in tennis is tennis is going for your shots and not holding back, and that is something that I have acquired over the many competitive matches I've played. I remember a series of matches I played against a kid named Nick. In all candor, Nick is a better tennis player than I, but in all close matches I have played against him, I have been the victor. The reason is, when the match comes down to the wire, I invariably go for the lines on my groundstrokes, attempt an ace on my first serve, and rush to the net behind my second serve. When the match is close and comes down to a few shots, I am willing to take a risk and go for shots I normally wouldn't attempt, to grab the win, and it usually pays off. I have learned that fortune favors the brave and I have a chance to succeed at something, I am not afraid to put all my effort into it and do what in necessary to succeed. One example in which I have applied this to my own life is when signing up for classes at school. I have the option to take standard courses or challenge myself with Honors and AP courses. Tennis has helped give me the will and determination to challenge myself with more difficult courses and succeed in them so I can stay ahead in life. From years of competitive tennis, I have learned that the willingness to stay on the offense in life is a great trait to have.

Tennis has always been important to me and I have dedicated many hours to the sport and improving my game. I have put countless hours of hard work into the sport, so I can become the best player I can be. One instance in which I recall putting in hours of hard work and my maximum effort to reach a goal is my freshman year's high school tennis season. I had a disappointing freshman season where I failed to qualify for the state playoffs, and I worked extremely hard not to repeat my freshman year. I set a goal at the beginning of the season that I wanted to finish top three in the regional tournament and qualify for the state playoffs. I put forth my best effort and was dedicated and determined to ultimately accomplish my goal spent numerous hours on the tennis court including extra practice on the weekends, and eventually, I succeeded. From this I learned that the ultimate way to reach success is to set a goal and have the determination to accomplish that goal. For example, I have recently set a goal to gain acceptance to the Honors College at Arizona State or the University of Arizona. Since I have set this goal, I have been more committed and determined to my studies in an attempt to reach this goal and move forward towards the next stage of my life. This shows how competitive tennis has helped me become more of a goal-oriented and determined person in all aspects of life.

Of all the years that I have been playing competitive tennis, one of the most important qualities I have gained from it is my ability to embrace challenges. In tennis, whether I'm playing in unfavorable weather conditions, I am facing an opponent who is more talented than I am, I am able to stand up and overcome that challenge. If I am trailing in a match, or if I am trying to reach a goal that seems too far away, I have learned that I can overcome almost any obstacle. This has carried over to other aspects of my life including school. Tennis has taught me never to back down from any challenge and that anything is possible if I am determined to meet that challenged and I put forth my best effort to do so.

Tennis is my favorite sport because in many ways it resembles life. As in other sports, there is a psychology and mental aspect to tennis, but because I'm playing against one other person, it draws such a comparison to relationships. To watch the antagonism, frustration, joy and respect that occurs on the court reminds me of our daily interactions with each other as human beings. Tennis gives me inspiration because I draw many traits and lessons from it. It reminds me not to give up when the chances are low, to always fight and shoot for the reward. Sometimes I may lose in the process, but the rewards are great if I am persistent and succeed.

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