Tag Archives: Tennis

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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A lesson in humility

23 Feb

http://dailybruin.com/features/jordyn-wieber-brings-strength-to-ucla-gymnastics-team/

 

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.

http://dailybruin.com/features/jordyn-wieber-brings-strength-to-ucla-gymnastics-team/

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.

Deciding my future or Writing again, though not a rant

22 Feb

I am a strong, independent young lady that has never lost sight of her goals. Of course, I have had detours, of course there were times when I had doubts or felt disappointed. But, in my heart, I always knew what I wanted, how much I need to work for it, what I need to sacrifice in order to achieve it, and I always were able to make that choice. I walked through hell and back for my dream.

Romance especially, has never been able to make me stray from my path. Then, why now, why does this ordinary guy have this influence on me? And for so long. Why have I allowed my mind to drift away from my work, strayed away from my goal, become insecure, clingy, and awkward?

This is not a rant about my latest crush. This is me, reclaiming my life. Acknowledging the problem is always the first step towards solving it. I realise that this has gotten out of my control and I give myself until next Sunday to solve it. Either something comes out of it, or I will push this issue out of my life.

For the past 7 months I have had to deal with a wide arrange of new issues. Packing my life, moving to the other side of the world was not supposed to be easy. But, I probably should not be surprised that the real problems I encountered were not the stereotypical ones, not the ones I was warned of.

I, personally had to deal with defeat. I didn’t walk on to the women’s tennis team as I had planned on. I was not able to call myself a tennis player anymore. I lost my identity. Not having a coach and not affording to pay a physical trainer, I allowed myself to become ordinary. I put on 10 kilograms, and those were not the freshman 15. Since I moved to college and until my supposed “try-outs” I had actually lost weight. I was ready, prepared, fit. It was the disappointment, the loss of a goal and the entire situation with this guy that made me go back to sweets, to chocolate, to avoiding the running track, to avoiding the gym.

Today, I decided I cannot give up. Even if I have to take another path, I am a tennis player. I will train by myself and I will work harder than the others and I can and will still get there. And this starts today, with the first 25 days left until my first major competition in almost a year. A lot depends on it, but more depends on how I prepare for it, and how I change back to who I am supposed to be when entering such a competition.

This however, will turn into a long-term goal. As long as I am not on the team here at UCLA, it means that I am a full-time student, working towards my academic future and my career. Yes, my dream is to become a professional tennis player. But even if that becomes a reality, which I promise I will do anything in my power to make it such, I will still have my career to go to. I will be someone important. I will work at the highest level in government, nationally and internationally. I see myself as a politician, as a delegate to the UN, as foreign minister, as a diplomat. I belong there, and again, I will do everything it takes to take my rightful spot.

I will make the right choices and I will follow my plan. Becoming involved, having those positions on the board of the tennis club, the MUN club, the Romanian club, my sorority will lead me there. Doing the research projects for my Poli-Sci 199, my quarter in Washington will get me there. Getting a job will help me on my way. Interning during the quarter in Washington and during the summer will do its part. Being trained in public speaking, in making friends and acquaintances, in putting myself out there will become the foundation of my highway towards those upper levels.

Yes, I now have another set goal, the devised plan to get there and the motivation to embark on another journey. Until I graduate or make the team, I will still have my personal side quest, tennis, that I am all in for. I am in no way giving up on that there or not even putting it on hold. I am officially making it a well guarded secret so I can work on it without pressure or distractions. The goal is to maintain and slowly raise my level of consistency, confidence and experience until I will allow myself to fully dedicate my time to it. Even if this means the next 2 years and a half. I have the patience and the determination to pursue something like this. Becomes it will make me feel special and it will provide me with the incentive necessary to put in the hours that I will have to put in. And those are long hours that await me. Hitting with people, running in the mornings and going to the gym, all as side-notes to doing homework, preparing my lessons, doing the research and becoming as involved in extracurriculars such as a job, a club and my sorority.

I realise it is a lot, but this is exactly what I need. Give me a free day ahead, I will accomplish nothing for all those 24 hours and feel disappointed. Provide me with an impossibly challenging schedule for the day that awaits me, I will get everything done and feel empowered. This is me, and I embrace it. I rejoice in being so.

 I am taking a stance.

 I am back.

And this time, I am neither stopping nor slowing down.

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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