Yesterday I hinted to the disappointed I faced when I arrived at my new home, not only not becoming part of the tennis team, but also, not even being given the chance to try out and measure myself against the girls I could feel I am close to, in terms of tennis level.
I felt I was forced to give up my dream, even when it might not have been required and of course, the alternative, pouring all that energy and dedication into something else, that I didn’t even thought it existed was not very appealing.
I joined the tennis club, only for the opportunity to be on the court, still clinging to the hope of having try-outs at one point. I figured that the only other people whom I would benefit from playing with would be in it. It was terrible for me, seeing that we didn’t have a coach, that nobody was motivated to come out and train, not just hit around and play games, and that the competition was at a much lower level than I anticipated and hoped for.
In all honesty, I wasn’t happy, and I am fairly positive that it could be seen from the outside as well. I was stuck-up, thought myself better than everyone out there and had a diva-like attitude. Do not get me wrong, I worked hard. I only lost to one girl, against whom I also when playing the normal format, was on the court longer hours than anyone else, and had the work ethic I grew up with. They were happy to have me win matches, but I wasn’t part of the club. I didn’t want to. Respectful distance was all there was.
Fast forward 8 months later. We lose in the regional championships against USC and then to UCSB. I say we, but I wasn’t even on the court. It was crushing for the team, it was devastating for me. I did not understand why wasn’t I put to play, why didn’t they use me and my initial reaction was to say to myself that I didn’t lose anything. They did. I was more worried that I would not have whom to train with anymore, that I would be unprepared for Italy, my Italy, my tournament. But then I realized how sad I was for them. Our president is graduating this year. She won the tournament her freshman year and didn’t even qualify for it in her last year. I was hurting for her. And I was hurting for me and the other freshman who will be remembered for the first in history who did not qualify for nationals.
However, it wasn’t until I read this article about US Olympic Gold winner, Jordyn Wieber that I truly realized that not only did my attitude need to change, but that I wanted it to.
Jordyn Wieber is an amazing athlete, sponsored by Adidas, who took the highest stage in the world and delivered at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Now, she moves the mats around for a team that she does not compete for and prepares the girls’ equipment, and she is happy.
Everyone looks up to her, respects her and is inspired by her and while she trains by herself, she does not feel like she is performing any lower duties. Or at least, this is what the article says.
I cannot imagine how someone who has a gold medal sitting at home feels in a small gym with no one to challenge her in it. Given, the gym may not be small, but we are talking about someone an entire country put faith in. I wonder how she stays motivated in this environment and what pleasure she takes in already being the best here, without even trying. I cannot comprehend this situation but I can acknowledge the beauty and honor in it.
I know that she still has access to all the facilities and everything she requires. Plus, she still trains with UCLA coaches, though not together with the team.
But, truthfully, it doesn’t matter. I just felt humbled and ashamed of myself. I will continue to work hard with my club team and for it, irrespective of my private goals and aspirations in the sport. I will hopefully take a position in a club that has allowed me to continue to cling to the prospect of me ever playing tennis at a competitive level again.
I will honor the friends I made and smile more at practice. I can train by myself, I don’t need to ruin the fun for them. I need to realise that they were not exposed to the same schedule, intensity or level of competition and pressure that I was. And I have no right to hold it against them. For them tennis is a pleasant hobby and I should not intervene or judge.
I will not.
Now I know that even if I make the varsity team next year, or even if I don’t, when I graduate and look back, the tennis club will be among the first things on my list of activities and organizations that have impacted me and my college life. Some of my friends will be from it. Some of the lessons I have learned will have come from it. And even some of my biggest victories will take place in it. Because I know I will have won them for someone other than me. And those will have their own flavor and place in my heart and story.
All in all, if I spend that many hours with it, I might as well start enjoying it, right? I will continue to refuse to play games at practice though, and that, nobody can hold it against me.