Some situations in life don’t always go in our favor.
Example: my tennis tournament.
As I mentioned last week, I entered into a pretty foreign world over the weekend: the tennis tourney world. While I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, my friend Wendi—who plays a lot and is really good—hit with me Thursday evening and offered me some pointers to help prepare me. There were only four women total in my division, so it was set up as a round-robin style, which meant we were all guaranteed three games. It was spread out over three days, so I had a match Friday night, a match Saturday morning and a match Sunday morning.
And each day was complete with varying emotions.
Day 1: Anxiety
I didn’t really think about the tourney much at work Friday until it was almost time to leave and actually play. And then I realized I had no idea what I was doing. I’m pretty tired by the time Friday afternoon rolls around, and I typically like to do nothing after work (other than go straight home and put on my comfy clothes), so the thought of this tennis match was sounding less appealing by the second.
But I had a mission, and I needed to complete it.
I got to the club a little early, checked in and tried not to act like I was completely out of place (though I’m pretty sure my running attire gave me away). I met my opponent, Tami, and we began walking to our assigned court. As we were walking, my sister showed up, and I felt a sense of relief. It was comforting to know that, even though I was facing something a little intimidating, I had her there with me.
Apparently there’s a pretty standard warmup tennis players do before their matches. I was not aware of the routine, so when Tami said things like, “OK, want to go long now?,” I could only respond with, “Sure!” My sister was in the spectator section laughing at the scene—I would have, too.
Tami beat me Friday night, but all of the games in each set were really close. She was so nice and encouraging when she found out after the match that I had never played in a tournament before (and that I never really play outside of tournaments, either). And my sister took some great selfies of her reactions—commentary included—throughout the match. I thought she had been texting the whole time, which she had, but she was texting me all of her photos and comments.
I chatted with my sister a little after the match about everything going on in our lives (because, you know, she is GETTING MARRIED this Friday), and it made me feel better to talk to her after losing.
Day 2: Excitement
I woke up Saturday morning and went running, and I noticed I was a bit sore in muscles I didn’t know existed. But I was looking forward to my second match. I had that first one under my belt, and I also knew some of my friends would be there to support me, so I was feeling ready for it.
I got to the club early again so that I could request to the man in charge to let us have a court that was spectator-friendly, because some of the courts have no place for people to watch. He ended up giving us a prime court and my second opponent, Marla, and I made our way there.
I had a nice crew out there that day—Amanda, Laz, Disco, Fred, Fred’s boyfriend (Jacob), Mandy, Mandy’s son (Tyler), Jason and my mom—and it turned out to be a pretty competitive match. The first set even went to a tiebreaker, which was fun.
I lost, though. Again.
But I really liked that match. It gave me a little more confidence, and I felt more inspiration to keep trying in the moments when I really didn’t want to. It was really hot, and my body felt tired, and toward the end of the match, all I could think about was how much I wanted froyo.
But I had my people there, and they were making me smile through the pain.
Even though I lost, I walked away with a joy that overshadowed the disappointment. People I truly care about were there for me—I mean, they drove all the way out there to sit in the heat and watch me play a sport I don’t play in a match I wasn’t likely to win. That thought made me feel better after losing.
Day 3: Discouragement
The final day of the tourney wasn’t nearly as positive as the first two. First, it was a very rainy and dreary day, which always makes me want to stay on my sofa all day. Second, my match was moved to the indoor facility but was delayed more than an hour, and I didn’t find out until I got to the club, which meant a lot of sitting around and waiting. The thought of “I could easily forfeit and go home and nap, instead” ran through my mind more than once.
But I knew I couldn’t do that.
When my final opponent, Sonya, and I finally made our trek to our court, I was trying to get myself a bit more motivated, but it wasn’t really working. I just wasn’t feeling it Sunday morning. I wanted to hit the fast-forward button and be finished with this mess.
When the match got underway, it was much of the same story: a bunch of close games (one with seven deuces) but an overall loss for me. I’m going to be honest and say that there were multiple points during the match when I thought about not trying anymore so that we could get it over with more quickly, and I could go home. But for some reason I kept trying, which was frustrating, because I still lost.
My dad was at that match, and though it was nice to have him there supporting me, I felt bad all of those people had come out there to watch me lose. That did not make me feel better after losing.
Over the weekend, I did something I’ve never done before. I faced situations that were almost sure to end in failure. I lost when I really wanted to win (even just one match). I experienced joy, pain, frustration, fear and a multitude of other emotions.
But complete defeat wasn’t one of them.
We’re going to face times in life that leave us feeling hurt and confused—and sometimes all alone. Those are the times we have to dig deep within us and dive for whatever shots come our way (by the way, I only ran into two fences trying to make shots that really were never going to happen), knowing that we don’t have to go through the messes all alone. People will be there for us to help us smile through the pain. And even though we can’t hit the fast-forward button to get through the messes, we can still feel better after losing.
Because love may not be a good thing in tennis, but it sure is good everywhere else in life.