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When home is not home anymore and How playing a 10k in Italy decided my future

28 Mar

When home is not home anymore and How playing a 10k in Italy decided my future

After travelling for 21 hours straight, crossing an ocean and having two lay-overs, I would have expected to drop dead of tiredness not have an epiphany. Yet, as I found myself over Los Angeles, looking through the little window of the plane, I felt a shiver down my spine and a warm feeling inside of me: “I’m coming home” was all I could be thinking.
This past week, I was technically closer to home than anytime before in the past 8 months: in Europe, with my parents. However, that is not my home anymore. In my parents’ house, where I’ve lived for 12 years, stands my empty room and that is a place I’ve been wanting to leave for at least 10 out of those. Seeing my parents for the first time in such a long time, I expected to be at least content. I wasn’t. I was annoyed at their joy of seeing me, at their smiles, at their hugs. I couldn’t stand their poor English and their insistent question and thirst of hearing and seeing me. I didn’t want it to be that way. I certainly felt bad pretending, smiling and telling stories, in order for them to indulge my every wish, which they did, without even thinking, just because they finally had their daughter back.
I don’t know yet if Los Angeles is my home. I haven’t exactly lived in the city for on campus, in a shielded bubble. However, I know for sure that it is not where my parents are anymore. Flying to Italy, I was excited: I would play tennis at a tournament again, I would hear a foreign language, I would eat delicious food and I would admire good-looking Italian men. It was the excitement of discovery. Flying back to the US, I was excited: I would be back, start anew, ready to take on a new quarter, change my life, motivated. It was the excitement of coming home, recharged, with grand plans. 8 months ago, I remember being on the same flight to LA, but having the exact opposite sentiment, the first one I described: the shiver of experiencing something new. I was a bright-eyed little girl going on an adventure, leaving home behind. Now, I come back here, almost an adult, content to have explored something new, but happy to be home.

But now, a little about Italy.

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These shoes were made for winning or Daily Promt: These Boots Were Made for Walking

24 Aug

Daily Prompt: These Boots Were Made for Walking

Tell us about your favorite pair of shoes, and where they’ve taken you.

To start off with, yes, I am that type of girl. The one who has at least 100 pairs of shoes and still feels that none matches her outfit for the day perfectly. I love heels, I love flats, I love running sneakers, I love sandals, and I love boots. But there is no pair of shoes in the world I love more than my tennis shoes.

It’s not that they are the most used ones, which they definitely are. And it’s not that they are Adidas or that one pair I had used to have Swarowski diamonds on them:)).
It’s the fact that when I put them on, I change. In my white, hopefully redish form clay, tennis shoes I feel I can take over the world. These shoes have seen me in victory and they have seen me in defeat. But, they have also seen me in countless hours of practice. They have seen in setting a goal and working for it.

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Seeing the sport you’ve been playing your entire life anew or Competition after one year

22 Jun

Retirement and hitting rock bottom.
Almost one year ago I took the heartbreaking decision of giving up playing tennis. My results were not the ones expected by me or my coach or my family, the recruiting process didn’t go as planned (although I received offers from D1 universities I had chances to get into higher ranked ones based solely on my academics) and putting all those hours and emotions into sports wasn’t justified anymore especially since I was entering my senior year and had the leaving examination waiting for me at the end of the year.

What followed was a severe case of athlete’s depression and I will write another post describing the experience but I feel positive today and I will fast-forward in order to get to today, at the end of the first competition I played in almost a year.

First tournament results and what I want to write about. Continue reading

Changing my “About” page, again or My life is about to start

13 Jun

I once read a quote, I don’t really remember it, but it said something about how fast everything changes when you are young and during these days I could not agree more. I reread my “about page” as well as a post I wrote about having to change that page, and I notice I almost do not relate to the person who wrote that anymore.

I am no longer a senior, having just graduated and identify as an UCLA freshman. My focus is no longer getting into college and I am no longer stressing with applications but embarking on a journey, as cliché as that may sound.

highschool graduation

In less than 2 months I will pack my life in 2 pieces of luggage, each about 23 kg and fly toward a new life on a new continent, in new city, where I know no one and will only come home for a short period of time next year in June. I am so excited about finally starting to live my dream, but at the same time, I can’t help but feel a tiny little bit anxious. I am thrilled at the possibility of reinventing myself, meeting so many new people and cultures, forming new groups and friendships, doing a lot of extra activities, continue with my passions and simply live. I have waited so long for this moment and I cannot wait for it. Exams now seem pointless, I do not need great grades, but I am studying for them, because this is who I am, I want to be the best, and plus studying keeps me busy and makes time fly faster.

tennis

A huge part of my life until now has been tennis, and I’ve gone through a lot with and for it. Even though I was courted by some Division 1 Universities, together with my family, I decided that I would for sure get into higher ranked colleges just based on my academics and because I was senior year, tennis fell on my priorities list. The transition from international junior player to simply doing it for fun has been extremely difficult for me and I could not adjust to my new position. So, despite not playing competitions during the year, I continued to train at a slower pace but managed to rediscover  the joy of simply being on the court and thus brought a new mentality to my game.

Now, I stand at a crossroad in this area of my life. Both my trainer and I, especially after seeing some videos of UCLA girls playing matches believe I could be on the uni team. I certainly have the level required. But I could not contact the coaches there. I desperately hope that they hold try-outs or at least allow me to challenge members of the team, because I need to know if I’m not good enough for the team or if I could help them and even strengthen it. In preparation for that decision, that is no longer mine, I have started training a little bit harder again, both on and off court and will play my first tournament in almost a year next week. Fingers crossed. I didn’t tell anyone yet, but even if I don’t get on the team, I will continue to train and play at club level and will try, for one year the 10.000$ tournaments, which are the lowest category for above-18 years players. I have saved some money and plan to use it to offer me the chance to fulfill my dream. If it doesn’t work out then I will finally admit that maybe it was not meant for me and focus on something else, but I do not want to live with regrets and questions such as “What if”.

Anyway, much has changed and I am sure I will go through a life-changing process in the next few months and will keep you updated on my other areas of interest which have yet to change, other sports, languages and international politics, but for now I believe I have to go back to studying.
52 days left until my life starts 🙂

life starts now

Tiny little racquet or My private reserve of happiness and passion

3 May

Daily Prompt: The Little Things. Describe a little thing — one of the things you love that define your world but is often overlooked.

Today’s daily prompt is something that resonated with me, as I am one of those persons who believe that live if made out of details and little things.

Perhaps because of this belief I also found it very difficult to pinpoint only one small feature of my life. But I as was starring at the blank word document in front of me, my mind frantically trying to separate one idea from the millions that were passing through it, I noticed that I was involuntarily biting at my necklace, actually the medallion on it.

And then it hit me. My entire life is somehow summed  up in that medallion and it stands for so many of my actions, my experiences, my desires, my frustrations that I couldn’t possibly find something else of that little size but of that enormous importance to me and my daily life.

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Decision or Finding my desire again. I Am a Tennis Player

18 Jan

I always said my greatest fear was being mediocre and that I want to live an exciting life. Well I can assure you I got my wish. I have done some amazing things during my short life but what I feel I have gained the most is the emotional maturity I have reached.

These past two weeks in which I have not written were some of the most demanding and challenging ones I have ever experienced. And I now refer to the emotional roller coaster I have been through and not one of those exciting weeks of visiting 5 countries and trying out living to the full.

And the reason why I have not written is because I do enjoy having clarity in my posts. I want to know what I want to say and how to do it and even in my diary when writing through states of sadness or being angry or extremely happy I usually find that balance between my emotions and the peace of mind I need in order to be coherent.

In my last post I wrote about a decision I had to make and a choice that was laid in front of me. I knew the time was coming to face that question and I still felt unprepared. I had successfully avoided it for the past 10 years of my existence, it was impossible for me to sit down and solve my problem in a few days. Now, I can contently say I know the answer.

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The post I dreaded the most or Do I have to give up tennis?

2 Jan

I need to change my about page . And this is killing me.

I learned to embrace change as a positive thing some time ago. It usually means development, evolution. But today, I am uncertain if this change I need to make can in anyway be for the better. And the dramatic part is that I cannot avoid it.

In short, I am no longer a tennis player on the international junior tour. My last year as a junior has officially ended on the 31st December 2012. And today, in relation to this game I do not know how I stand and what I am.

Questions regarding my future in this sport arose again. Questions I have tried to deffer for as long as possible. That means for the last 10 years, as I have been under constant pressure from my friends, parents and teachers to give it up in order to focus on school.

I know I have always know I would not become pro. I am aware I am not that good and even if I was the career is too uncertain. Even if you have tremendous success you need to retire at 30 and rethink and restart your life over. Of course I dreamed of such a life and quietly hoped I was going to be good enough for it to become my obvious choice.  But despite my hard work and wishes it did not happen that way.

At that point where it became obvious for everyone, including me, that I did not have a future on the pro tour, I came up with the middle way between that life and quitting. I could not even start thinking of giving up, it was that painful. Playing college tennis seemed the answer. I would continue my sports career for at least four more years, have a way to fund my studying and overall be happy. Continue reading