Going into the tournament as an unknown, no rankings, no points to defend, nothing to prove! My seventeen year old is returning to the tennis circuit again this weekend after a long break. Summer training at the academy, followed by school tennis, followed by arm surgery has taken Alex out of the world of USTA tennis tournaments. He returns with no rankings, no points so obviously no seeding. It is a place he hasn’t been in a long time.
I thought he would be a little upset about his current status and may be overwhelmed by, what may seem to be, an insurmountable climb back to the top. I was wrong. He said he is so excited to return and having nothing to prove or defend is a welcome relief. “I like being an unknown, I can just go out and play my game without worrying about defending points, and I rather be the guy coming in and knocking out the seed. Suddenly it’s all about tennis again instead of all the “stuff” that goes along with playing.”
“I realize that regardless of what the rankings say, I am a good tennis player. I don’t need a number to tell me that. There are also a lot of other guys out there that may not be ranked very high, but may be awesome tennis players. I just need to go onto the court and play the best I can every time and nothing else really matters. You need to respect every player you face by their ability not their number. You can get into a bad habit of deciding how hard a match will be before you go onto the court based on seedings and rankings. I’m just glad to be playing again and I welcome the lack of pressure to prove anything to anyone other than myself.”
I don’t know if it is the age (17) or the fact that he already has his spot on a college team, but I have seen the evolution of my son into a mature young man who happens to play tennis. If only these lessons could have been learned years ago so much heartache could have been avoided. Then again, perhaps it’s the heartache that has driven him to this level of maturity and success.