The 2016 tennis season was a real eye-opener for me. And honestly there is part of me that liked tennis better when my vision was a little foggier.
It’s not that there weren’t encouraging aspects. I achieved my goal of staying essentially injury-free while playing 5-6 times a week in an unusually hot and dry season. I established a routine of mixing regular hitting partners with ladder matches and practice sets to get a good balance of practice and point play. And I managed to win the Club Championship.
But I also lost a lot of matches. Like almost every one that I played outside of the tournament. And to every type of player out there. At one point in the season I remember saying to my husband that I didn’t think there was one player at the club I’d be confident I could beat.
Tennis for me has always been about learning and improving, and I really do my best not to be driven by outcome but rather to focus on the process. So honestly it’s not really the losing that bothers me, but rather it’s the constant questioning of every move I make. What shot to hit, how much pace, how much spin, how much control and how much power? Am I moving my feet enough? Maybe I’m moving them too much? What should my game plan be? Does it need to be adjusted? Am I practicing the right things? Should I be trying to win this or trying to improve? Are these the same thing or not?
I struggled so much this season that I didn’t even want to write about tennis on this blog. I questioned my belief that by reading and researching I’d find the ways to keep improving. My conviction that by developing perfect technique on all of my strokes and learning to control my nerves I’d become unstoppable on the court wavered. Because while my forehand, backhand, serve and volleys had undoubtedly improved, and while my yoga practice and mental techniques were helping me to stay calm during matches, I found I was losing more games than ever.
I’m learning that tennis just isn’t ever going to be easy, and that I’ve really just scratched the surface of a highly complex sport. It takes so much more than good technique and steely nerves to play it well.
At times this year I was so discouraged that I considered dropping off the ladder and skipping the club championships to save myself the heartache, but I’m proud to say that I still competed, no matter how uncomfortable it made me. I continued to put myself on the line in competition, to sweat profusely in hot yoga classes, to hit baskets of serves whenever I had a spare half hour all in the name of improving at this sport that I know I love even though it doesn’t always feel like it.
Yes, I probably played 150 hours of tennis this season, but I don’t think I made the most of these 150 hours and I don’t want the same thing to happen next year. So as of now I’m rededicating myself to all things tennis. This blog is an outlet for my crazy tennis thoughts and for compiling what I’m learning. It isn’t meant to showcase what I’m doing or impress anyone, so I’m not just going to write about the good times. It’s during the bad times that we learn the most, right?
Perhaps you play tennis to have fun, learn something new, improve your game, socialize or get fit. I hope that whatever your goals were for the 2016 tennis season you managed to achieve them.
And, if not, that you’ll keep trying.