Posts Tagged winning

Victory In A Tennis Tournament

The B Champs with their salad bowl trophies

The B Champs with their salad bowl trophies

I admit it: Winning really feels good. On Labor Day, I was part of a doubles team that won the B Division at the tennis club I joined three years ago. How sweet it is. I really wanted it…and not for the 15-inch diameter glass engraved bowl that I can use for salad and fruit.

Two years ago my team made it to the finals, but lost. This year we played that same team in the semi-finals–although I had a different partner, Jim Wu–and we won 6-2, 6-2. I began the match believing we could win. And best of all, I was doing my best without worrying if the other team would feel badly if they lost. As my tennis therapist told me, if they can’t handle losing, it’s their problem, not yours. I still don’t have a killer instinct and can still learn to play more aggressively. But I no longer feel so much sympathy for the other side that I subconsciously create my own errors and poor shots.

The most demandinging match was in the quarter finals, where we won 7-5 and in a tiebreaker 7-5. I served at the end of both sets, and I was ecstatic that I never choked. There were around 20 people watching and cheering me on. What a difference it made to hear people applauding and encouraging me after an especially good point. One experienced friend said I was playing the best game of my life…certainly that he’d ever seen me play. He may have been right. I was in the zone, anticipating better than ever and returning many balls that seemed ungettable. Now I understand a tiny bit of what the pros like Monfils and Djokovic feel, when they motion to the thousands in the stands to clap and shout louder after a winner or a victory. It feels terrific.

But I was a bit sad to learn after that close match that one of my opponents lost on his birthday. Both guys looked very disappointed, and I was glad that my sympathy didn’t kick in until AFTER the win.

For the finals I was really concerned about one of the opposing guys…a lefty with a powerful serve and a very strong net game. He volleys incredibly frustrating drop shots too. But he was a bit off in the exhausting, low-80s heat…and we won that one 6-2, 6-3 in front of an appreciative crowd that was often focused on the A Division finals two courts over. But some watched my game and applauded our victory. Many people were happy for me when I saw them afterwards. Very satisfying…even thrilling. I definitely wanted to win this final after losing it the last time.

Who knows? Maybe some year I will enter the A Division and see if I can win a match or two. Some of those guys are like semi-pros, were on college teams and are super fast. Many are under 50 and have astonishing capabilities after years of practice.

For now I am totally pleased. I have a year to relish my success and prepare to defend my title next time against all newcomers, wannabees and guys seeking revenge. The joy of sport…the challenge of athletics. My quest to keep improving. Pretty lucky to have this passion so late in life and be able to do it…I am savoring every minute…

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Why Does Winning Matter So Much?

I grew up with a father who played golf for “the fun of it.” He loved being outside, walking the course, enjoying the sunshine. His score wasn’t that important. Sure he wanted to do his best, maybe beat his personal records. But he loved the social and physical experience above all. Much more than besting his fellow players.

These days I bump into tennis opponents who “play for blood.” They are dominated by the need to win at all costs. They become enraged if they miss a shot. They yell at their doubles partner if he hits a ball into the net. And they will hit to the weakest player on the other team over and over and over, rather than mix up their placements to their opponent’s side of the court.

What is that all about, I keep wondering? Sure I do my best to win, run hard after each ball, focus on serves, well-placed shots, return unexpected gets. I strive throughout to hit where they ain’t. But if I lose a point, I frown—sometimes I curse—and get ready for the next shot. If my partner blows an easy one, I recall that I’ve missed a slew too. If we lose in a long rally, I shrug, smile and praise the victors. I am glad for all the excitement, good exercise and harmless tension.

For me it is all just a game. I can’t seem to get too upset on the court, when other less fortunate people are losing their jobs, watching storms destroy their houses or being maimed by suicide bombers. But for some locals I know, these sports entertainments are not just a game. It appears they are contests to assert dominance, build ego, establish superiority, enhance personal stature and to prove that they are better than I am. At least I think that might be the real aim of their victory.

I know that I am competitive when I run after the ball that no one else might have retrieved, practice in between matches for hours with a ball machine, against a wall or hitting serves. I took two-hour lessons almost every week for a year to improve my performance in the beginning. I believe I am clearly serious about becoming a stronger player. And though I have only been playing less than 2 1/2 years, and some of my competitors (aged 45 to 93) have been playing regularly since they were kids, I can often hold my own and earn their respect. At least they will play me weekly or call me to be a substitute. So I am good enough to give them a challenging game. Or beat them.

But I just don’t have that killer instinct they do. I am never out to draw blood. Read the rest of this entry »

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