Picking up Your High School Sport as an Adult
I started to play tennis again after I took a break in high school, and I never should’ve stopped
My grandpa was a Pete Sampras guy; I was more of an Agassi fellow myself. The first tennis racket I held was an old school, Wilson wooden racket that my Grandpa owned. Funny enough, I was exposed to the sport of tennis early on when I would watch matches on TV with my gramps, but I didn’t actually play tennis until my 3rd year of high school.
On top of that, I only played for two years, IF that. I mostly played during Spring, but nothing extensive after the season was over. I didn’t play for a club or a summer team, and when I graduated from high school, I took a hiatus from the sport altogether. I learned enough to hit a solid looking forehand (don’t ask me about the outcome, but the groundstroke looked nice).
I want to say anywhere between 6–9 years have passed since I picked up a racket. I play at least once a week with one of my old high school teammates and a good friend. I stopped wishing for things to happen in my life, but if I could make one change about my past, it would get myself involved with tennis earlier and stay consistent with the sport throughout my upbringing.
Tennis, like golf and really every sport — can be mentally draining. My coach used to preach to us during practice,
“Even if there is someone in front of you, you’re still playing against yourself.”
I reflect on what he says now with some maturity behind me and some wisdom, and it makes more sense to me now than it did when I first heard it. Fundamentally if your groundstrokes aren’t mechanically correct, it’ll be difficult to get the ball back into play but hit the ball in ways where it makes it harder for the opponent to respond.
Suppose you’re playing to hit winners down the line and hitting big shots rather than focusing on consistency. The mindset of getting better each time versus winning will impede progress. This is an approach that I understand better now as I’m in my late twenties.
It’s an approach that can be applied across most things outside of tennis and outside sports in general. When your foundation is solid, that’s when the creativity comes through.
As a tennis fan, Roger Federer is so asthetically pleasing to watch; it’s insane. At 39 years of age, he’s still my favorite player to watch to this day. The way he plays the game looks so effortless; it’s a thing of beauty. The amount of time and reps that he put in to get to that level is nothing short of mastery.
Time and repetition.
The two components to progress that transcend across anything in one's life. I played tennis last weekend for 3.5 hours and loved every single second of the time I spent on the court. Every time I hit with my friend, I always bring up the gap between high school and now.
What if I continued to play tennis for the past 6–9 years. It’s not about the possibility of playing tennis at a pro-level, but the curiosity about how good someone could get within that time frame. The number of reps one could accomplish in those years would’ve been an amazing thing to document. That is the ultimate What if for me, but I realize that I now have that opportunity. I’m older, yes, but I have the opportunity now to play tennis for years to come consistently.
This is how I see all hobbies that I care about, including writing. Now the question is,
What will 5 years look like for my tennis game and what will 5 years look like for my writing?
What will 5 years from now look like for your goals or hobbies? It’s an exciting thing to look forward to, and I hope that everyone enjoys the journey along the way.