If you can’t fix it, learn to live with it.
If you don’t have a dog in the fight walk away from it.
If you don’t have something nice to say don’t say anything at all.
All of these are sayings we have grown up with and heard our parents repeat to us time and time again. Most likely if you are a parent you have heard yourself utter these very words to your children. Yet in the tennis world all we seem to hear is complaining, complaining, complaining!
A fellow blogger and tennis mom, Parenting Aces, wrote an excellent article about this the other day and it sparked a fire in me. Her article allowed me to think about why I had distanced myself from the tennis community lately and why I was having trouble sitting down to my computer to give words to the Crazy Tennis Mom. It is the complaining, the nonstop complaining that seems to go along with the competitive tennis world. There seems to be nonstop complaining about changes to the USTA schedules or rules, changes to the College Tennis format, poor high school coaching, allowing “lower level” tennis players play in tournaments, lack of quality American tennis players…it is always something.
My goal in starting the Crazy Tennis Mom blog was to remind parents and players to enjoy the sport of tennis. I wanted to remind the tennis community that we all came to this place because of the love of tennis. I came to a point where I realized that I had become so involved with the “politics” of the game that I had forgotten about why I had become involved with it in the first place. The Crazy Tennis Mom was born of my desire to let other parents learn from my mistakes. I wasted time and effort on being the Crazy Tennis Mom, and worse yet I allowed it to affect my child’s view on the game as well. Perhaps if I had kept a better perspective on the game I may have helped him to do the same.
It all began with a young boys passion and absolute love for the game. When he picked up his first tennis racquet he never even knew what the USTA was, he didn’t know about TennisRecruit.com, or what a ranking was, all he knew was that when he was on the court he felt more alive than he did anywhere else. I started out with those same innocent eyes, just a pure pleasure from seeing my child happy and passionate about his sport. His enthusiasm spread through our home like wildfire and before we knew it his brother and sister had racquets in their hands too. Never once during those early years did we study rankings, plan family vacations around tennis tournaments, have arguments about work-out schedules, or debate the fairness of National Level Tournament Schedules. In the early days we did nothing more than enjoy the game.
So how did we get to the place where tennis seemed to consume our every moment? It starts rather innocently at first. You become part of the tennis environment, listening to the talk at the club or tournaments. You start off just listening but before you know it, you are joining in on the conversation. The conversations begin to spill over from the club to the car ride, to the dinner table. The kids are hearing as you repeat the local gossip about the terrible officiating at the Southern Open, or how little Joey’s mom is picking the “easy” tournaments to improve his rankings. It creeps in slowly and soon begins to grow, much like mold on a stale piece of bread, and just like the mold, it spreads to the rest of the loaf. Before you know it, instead of being a wide-eyed, naive, tennis parent and player you have created an environment of negativity, pessimism and complaining.
It doesn’t take much to see how our innocent complaining about rule changes or officiating, or draws, translates into a poor attitude in our junior tennis players. If it’s okay for the grown-ups to complain why can’t they. Suddenly, their accountability for their game has changed. No longer is the bad match or attitude their fault. They got a lousy draw, or their opponent made bad calls, or the official was a jerk, or their strings where terrible. What did we expect? That is what we have taught them.
When my two younger children decided they didn’t want to join their brother in the competitive tennis journey, I was shocked. I could see that they had as much or more talent as he had. Why would they not want to follow in his footsteps? This was my first opportunity to realize how off track we had become in our tennis journey. Instead of seeing the passion and love my son had for tennis, they saw the negative side. They heard the complaining, saw the battles, and witnessed the heart-break that came with the game. As they so innocently put it “we just want to enjoy playing.”
Isn’t that what we should all want? Isn’t that why we all came to tennis in the first place, because we loved the game and enjoyed playing or watching it? Our family was lucky, we learned to step back walk away from the “crazy” tennis world to find a place within the tennis community and game where we could just enjoy it again. The funny thing is it didn’t cost my son anything. He didn’t fall out of the Tennis Universe to become a lost soul that no one ever heard of again. He did fall out of the rankings and his name wasn’t known in the tournament circuit for the last few months of his senior year but he didn’t stop or forget how to play tennis.
Not so long ago all the tennis talk seemed to revolve around the changes to the College tennis tournament schedule. Quickly I jumped on line and began to research what the changes were, but then just as quickly, I stopped. It really doesn’t matter to me what these changes are and more importantly my D1 tennis playing son doesn’t care. He is just thrilled to be playing. Now if that isn’t a reality check I don’t know what is.
So please stop complaining, and start enjoying. If we are really concerned about the future of American tennis than shouldn’t we be trying to get more people playing and loving the sport. We already have a reputation of being an elitist sport, so let it go. Let’s open the doors to as many players as we can and when we do let’s make sure the environment they see is one that is welcoming, positive and passionate.
Please visit Parenting Aces and read her article “Complain, complain, complain…DO” so if you really must complain you can find a positive way to do so.