It started out as a way to get more exercise outside of PE class. Often, I would play tennis with my brother to prepare for my upcoming tennis tournaments. I did not realize the importance of tennis until after disappointing losses during tennis tournaments. Tennis not only improved my physical strength, but also developed my mental strength.
In tennis, it is impossible to win a match by relying on only either the mind or the body. Players must coordinate their arms, wrists, legs, shoulders and torso in order to perfect their strokes. In addition to being physically demanding, tennis also requires strategy and perseverance.
Scoring in tennis is set up so that winning is not possible without determination. Winning a point is easy, but winning a game or set requires persistence. In order to win a match, players have to win best two out of three sets. Each set consists of six games with special scoring rules when the score is tied during a set at 6-6. To win a game, players must win four points. Essentially, a series of small points leads to a game point. This makes tennis unique because unlike basketball or badminton, not every point matters.
There is a major difference between winning a point and winning a game, set or match point. Although the last point is like any other point, it’s much harder to win a point that secures the victory than it is to win any random point in the middle of the match.
Only the game points can determine a winner. There have been too many times when I have been one point away from victory but, due to my hubris, lost that chance and had to fight my way back to victory. If a player loses the game point, they still have a chance to win the deuce. In a deuce, players must win by two points in order to win the game.
Although winning a match seems simple, that is almost never the case. During one of my most discouraging losses, I easily won the first set 6-1. It should have been an effortless victory, but my opponent somehow found the strength and determination to fight back. Despite a perfectly functioning body, I lost faith in my ability to defeat my opponent after several unforced errors and collapsed under the pressure, losing in the third set tiebreaker.
The loss never ceases to haunt me as I continued playing for the school team, but I finally understood the importance of my mindset in tennis. My state of mind is crucial to the outcome of the match. Tennis requires absolute focus in order for players to perfect their shots and play their best.
Tennis taught me to focus on the important events in life and trained an ability to control my emotions during critical times. During a game, set and match points, it is hard to keep myself from being too anxious, resulting in an increased chance of unforced errors. With time and experience in these situations, I am able to control the anxiety and focus on winning the point, knowing that losing that point will not end my tennis career.
The ability to focus and control my emotions greatly affects me in school too. Without the major distractions of phones and most social media, I can efficiently plow through homework and still have time for extracurriculars, such as tennis. During tests, I won’t be significantly affected by the time crunch, so I can focus on answering all the questions to the best of my ability.
Life is one decision after another. In tennis, each point is a chain of decisions, but the most important part of tennis is to win the last, key points. Without a strong, resilient mindset and focus during critical moments, the game is already lost.