Monday, January 21, 2008


One half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other. Jane Austen
Participants in sports often find themselves subjected to questions over the worthwhile value and time spent on the activity. At times, we may even do this to ourselves. Tennis is no exception. While those earning either a living in the sport or a college scholarship are exempt from such interrogation, what of the rest of us? Lacking a monetary reward, how might we justify our devotion to whacking a small chartreuse ball around?

Our growing softness, our increasing lack of physical fitness, is a menace to our security. John F. Kennedy

Since humanity's hunting and gathering days seem long past, sports have acted as a primary means towards the development of physical skills. Children no longer learn to throw a spear or run down a rabbit. They do however practice hitting forehands and optimal footwork. As modern lifestyles grow increasingly sedentary, exercise as a separate activity is becoming more important. Our work doesn't keep us fit and healthy, and exercise for the sake of exercise takes great determination. Running for a dropshot or scrambling for a lob is instinctual. We don't question the benefit of getting to the ball. The ball is there and we will focus every ounce of our being to get there. While the activity gained participating in a sport is vital, it also leads to off court workouts to enhance performance and improve overall health.

Without self-confidence we are as babes in the cradles. Virginia Woolf

Along with physical skills and fitness, tennis serves in the development of one's self-image and confidence. Each time a player steps up to the line to compete, his/her everything is on that line. Like a performer in the spotlight, the pressure to perform in tight situations is a constant test of one's willpower. Will I buckle here, or will I rise above the situation? As the body moves, strategies are forming, decisions made. Discovering that one can compete on an even field in tennis is an empowering idea for an individual. The self-confidence derived from such tests of one's hard work and determination manifests itself throughout a person's non-tennis activities.

For many people tennis is a way to interact socially and enjoy the company of friends. People come together through tennis' common link. I travelled a great deal for tennis, which brought me in contact with diverse people from this country and others, both players and spectators. In this respect, tennis has been a vehicle for me to see and learn about the world, all the while being accepted as a member of a community united by a shared interest. This bond of tennis defies barriers that separate people.

Tennis is often a means of escape from one's daily routine. The working person whose day has provided nothing but frustration, can find some release on the tennis court. The stay-at-home parent, cooped-up with children all day, uses the time playing tennis to devote energy strictly for his/herself. These people relish their opportunities to play, for tennis restores a bit of joy in otherwise stifling circumstances.

Tennis is more than just a sport. It’s an art, like the ballet. Bill Tilden.

For these and many other reasons, tennis and participation in athletics have tremendous value in society. Underlying these reasons is a deeper attraction to tennis and other athletics for everyone from the professional athlete to the social enthusiast. Simply put - We love playing this game! It touches something within us that longs to be expressed. To run, strike a ball, interact with and anticipate a ball in flight is a feeling that transcends words. To those who have experienced it, no further justification is necessary. - Nick Sousanis (1998)

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