It was love at first sight.
The first time we met, I was in 2nd grade.
We met on a dirty court, in the middle of a park.
Only 8 years old, I was captivated.
My dad introduced us.
Sitting at our kitchen table,
I remember that night like it was yesterday.
I had no idea that this day would change the rest of my life.
On an old basketball court in a park outside my house, I learned to play the game.
Having no idea what I was doing, but having the determination to learn.
I would go out for hours hitting one ball after another.
Just grasping for a chance to play the game I loved.
I wanted to be like Venus and Serena.
Their success drew me in.
But it was their work ethic and competitive fight that inspired me.
I remember watching them on the tv in my living room, hoping to one day be on that same stage.
My competitive spirit was handed down to me by my dad.
Growing up with three older brothers only fueled my fire.
Now I had found an outlet to let out my competitive desire.
Racket in hand, I was determined to let that little yellow ball fly.
My first racket was about $15.
Purchased at a department store, It was my most treasured possession.
The little pink frame, made complete by the even pinker handle.
Its scratches prove it was loved well.
My first time playing was definitely a learning curve.
Hitting the fuzzy yellow ball as hard as I possibly could was my only plan.
That is until I learned that this wasn’t like baseball.
Up until this point, all I had known were baseball fields and football stadiums but this sport was a whole new experience.
For almost a decade I have been in love with the game.
I don’t remember much of my life where I haven’t had a racket and tennis ball in hand.
But for me, tennis is not just a game.
Tennis is not just something I do for entertainment.
Tennis helps me to learn what kind of person I am.
It helps me prepare myself for life outside of tennis.
A lot of the time the things that happen on the tennis court have way more to do with my character than they do with tennis.
I don’t believe that sports build character but I do believe that sports reveal character.
How will I respond when I am losing and things are hard?
Will I cowardly shrink away and hide from challenges?
Or will I give it my all no matter the situation?
Tennis for me is a way to help me learn the way I respond to the difficult challenges before me and live out my faith.
So hopefully, when challenges and obstacles present themselves in life, I won’t run away and hide. I won’t cower away from my problems and blame them on everyone and everything else. Instead, I want to learn to love life, with the challenges, rewards, pain, failures, and victories it brings, just like I learned to love the difficult but beautiful game of tennis.
It was love at first sight, and now the way I see life will never be the same.
For that, I am thankful to God.