Living with tennis

Photos by Harriet Cuthbert

We have often read the phrase, “living with …” Just about 100% of the time, the words that follow describe a dire medical condition, and the person who is living with his prognosis is to be commended for his bravery/survival instincts/willpower/courage.

He will give it his all to conquer his medical problem. The message seems very discouraging, but the afflicted individual is trying hard to put a positive spin on a negative situation.

However, I have a bit of a different take on “living with …” I am out and proud (and not ashamed) to say that I am living with tennis. I’ve been attached to my obsession since childhood, occasionally dropping it for social or academic priorities, but always being drawn back in.

Living with tennis has played a huge part in my life, and my passion for playing and watching it has not abated at all. As with many passions, the longer I stay with it, the more obsessed I become.

My first date with my husband-to-be was on the tennis court. His regular partner couldn’t play, so I volunteered. We were probably both very well-behaved during the match that day, but years later, continuing to play with him, I was furious that I could never beat him.

Living with tennis teaches us good manners when we lose; honesty and ethics when we’re playing; and that it’s OK to be assertive, because this is a competition, making it also OK to win.

Tennis was always part of our family life, too. And I didn’t like losing to my sons, either.  What always amazed me was that during our games, the multi-generational factor never got in the way of a competitive match. Nobody cared.

It was always easy to find a well-maintained public court in our neighborhood, and the clay courts actually had the same red clay that is played on in the French Open. Being able to play outdoors up north for three seasons out of four was wonderful.

Living with tennis means that tennis is a “life” sport. If you play consistently, your body and muscle memory will keep up with you. Reaction times and quick decision-making are vital to being a good player, and these basic abilities help us enormously in everyday life.

And, once in awhile, if we do need to take a break from playing this magnificent sport, we can turn on the TV and check out Wimbledon or the French Open. Now, that’s really living with tennis.

The ball is in your court.