When I started playing tennis eight years ago, I had no idea that the best part would be the opportunity to travel with my friends. I’ve had the privilege of attending a weekend-long tennis camp with friends four years in a row. Located in New Hampshire and Vermont and run by New England Holidays, it is always so nice to take a road trip, escape my routine for a few days, and play the game I love in a new place.
Four years ago I began playing USTA (United States Tennis Association) league tennis. USTA gives women of all ages and abilities the opportunity to compete at the game they love and play for the opportunity to—you guessed it—travel! I captained a team last summer that won districts in the Boston area and went on to play New England Sectionals in Springfield, MA. In 2014, some of my teammates competed at USTA Nationals in Tucson, AZ, and I was there to cheer them on.
While it’s great to spend a weekend away with teammates and friends, the road to a championships is rarely a smooth one. Sometimes our lust for a win can get the best of us, so I try to keep these two thoughts in mind. When things go well, it’s so worth it.
It feels good to win. Really good. And as a captain, it was great to know that I could recruit people and plan a team well enough to win. But more than anything, I’m involved in tennis to have FUN. Through my four years I have experienced all kinds of “bad behavior” from the adults I’ve played… verbal fights…bad attitudes…people throwing our balls away from us so that we would have to chase them because we were beating them. At Sectionals, the official had to come over and literally babysit the players. But the worst thing I have seen is friendships end- even life long friendships- over a recreational game that has the power to bring people together. There are so many real problems in life, and tennis should not be one of them. Come on people, tennis is above LOVE.
I have three boys, and I work hard to teach them two things: Treat others how you want to be treated and don’t assume things about people. Most fights on the court are about bad line calls. At most levels of recreational and USTA tennis, we make our own line calls, and sometimes people make mistakes. Have you seen a professional tennis match on TV? There are line judges watching all the lines, and that is all they are doing. And sometimes when the computer reviews the tape, the judge sitting on the line is wrong. Things can appear very different depending where you are in relation to the ball. So even when the game is very important to you, try your best to make a fair call.
Along these same lines (pun intended), if you think the other team has made a bad call, first assume they made a mistake. If they do it often, calmly suggest that you would appreciate their fairness. I have done that and we all stayed happy and they fixed their mistake. Here is a great website that tests whether you make the right calls all the time.
I believe those of us who are fortunate enough to play this great sport and maybe even travel to play it with friends are truly blessed. Let’s keep it in perspective, and have as much fun as possible!