All eyes are glued to the television. The days, and unfortunately the nights, are spent watching the first big tournament of the year. The Australian Open is always the favorite in our household, it marks the beginning of the season and warms the cold January evenings with the hopes for the upcoming tennis season. My son has always found that his motivation to practice and improve his game is at its greatest during the Australian Open.
How many young eyes are gazing upon the greatness of Federer, Murray, Djokovic, the Williams sisters and Sharapova (to name just a few) and dreaming of following in their footsteps? They hit the practice court with a new vigor, stars in their eyes and hope in their heart for that day when they will walk onto center stage of one of the Grand Slam tournaments. Unfortunately the truth of the matter is that only one or two of these young, enthusiastic tennis players will ever set foot on the court of a professional tennis tournament.
As a parent is it our job to tell our children that they will never be a pro tennis player? Time and time again I have been asked by parents when they should give up on their children as a tennis player, when should they tell them that they will never make it to the pros. I remember asking my son’s coach the same thing when he was around 13. “Why break his bubble and kill his dreams”the coach replied. “If he doesn’t feel like he has anywhere to go with the sport why would he put in the time and effort. He is just a boy and boys dream he will figure it out on his own.” So that is what we did, we said nothing and let him dream.
What we didn’t do is allow his schooling to fall behind or throw away good money after bad for a pipe dream. We kept him focused on what was important to take away from tennis…the life lessons.
- If you have a dream you have to work hard to accomplish it, nothing in life is just handed to you.
- If you want something you have to go after it with everything you have.
- You don’t always get want you want
- When you do something you do it the best you can
- If you don’t try you never know
- Education is the most important asset you can have
- If you love it, do it! Regardless of how good you are at it.
I never had to kill my son’s dreams, he figured it out on his own. They grow-up and mature and their dreams change. As a parent make sure your own “dreams” are realistic, not everyone is good enough to go pro or make D1 tennis and your child may be one of those that no matter how hard they practice they just don’t have that natural talent. It doesn’t make them less of a person or you less of a parent and it doesn’t mean tennis can’t be a focus in their lives. My son will never be a “great” tennis player, he is a “good” tennis player. He knows he has to work a little harder than the others to keep his position on the team and when college is over tennis will remain a passion but just not a living.
So enjoy the beginning of another great Grand Slam season. Watch with your kids and listen as they share their dreams of someday walking into Rod Laver Arena and smile. You don’t need to burst their bubble, they will figure it out on their own. Just enjoy the moment!