Congratulations to Andy Murray winning his first Grand Slam! He is the first British (although he's Scottish) man to win a major title since Fred Perry won the U.S. Championships in 1936. I love tennis and I love the tradition of tennis, so I can understand how important this is to him!
My dad taught himself to play at age 16 after exclusively playing baseball since he was a little kid. He then won a spot on his high school team and upcoming college team. He became a ranked player on the pro circuit for a short while. He also got his license to teach. I think that is quite a feat for a kid who started playing late in life. Did I mention that he learned only by reading a book about tennis and modeling his game on Rod Laver?
I started playing tennis at age 2. I can believe that since Riley was perfecting his golf swing at that age. In 1991, when I was 11 or 12, I played in my first tournament. I could have played in many years prior, but I was shy and unsure of myself. My parents never pushed me. Our community's junior tourney was one I felt comfortable in since I knew all the resident kids and adults. It was also open to outside residents and I ended up in the finals of the 10-15 year olds, playing an out of town wiz kid 3 years older than me. She was well known in the county because her dad was a developer in Orlando. She was good. I lost love and 2.
The second tourney I played was in Orlando at a small club. My dad had taught there at one time. It was unorganized and poorly attended because of it. There were no other 16 year olds, so I had to play in the 18 year old division. I was runner up.
I joined my high school team my freshman year. Now that is an experience! I was low ranked on the team and would sometimes sit out. But I got to play enough that kept me happy. I remember one match that I was put in to replace the number 2 player. It was a doubles match with the number 1 player. Amber was so nice to me and she didn't have to be since she was a senior. She'd take me home from practice or away matches when my dad wasn't able to come. Sometimes we'd go out for a snack after practice and some days she took me to school in the morning. We lost that match, but really, I lost it for us. I felt so horrible after letting Amber down. I think that was when I stopped being competitive. I loved going to practice but dreaded being called up to play a match. During my senior year, my chorus teacher (I had always been in chorus since elementary school) told us that we needed to drop all other electives and focus solely on singing. Senior year was the most competitive choral year. So I dropped tennis. Part of me regretted my decision but part of me knew it was relief. I never played competitively again.
Of course I always continued to actively play tennis. My dad got a full time teaching job at the local club long after my school life and being there was an almost daily occurrence. When Riley was born, I went to work at the club in the shop. He gave Lake Mary a famous name! All the ladies loved him and when the other ladies teams came to play their matches there, he was a hit.
It's been three years since I've picked up a racket and I am in the worst physical shape of my life. I've never been one for the gym or exercise videos so my motivation is nill. I am patiently waiting for my parents to move up so I can get back to playing again! Tennis has always been in my life and I am blessed to have been able to witness some amazing players like Pete Sampras, Stefan Edberg, and Steffi Graf. Some of the current players make me cringe (and want to throw up). The women sound like they are doing naughty things on court and all the men want to do is out slug their opponent. I remember grace, finesse, and strategy. And I remember commentary before John McEnroe's constant, biased chatter!
Do you have any life-long sports passions?