In Tennis I Trust
Adrenaline rushed through my veins as I shifted back and forth on the tips of my toes, my feet moving faster than my thoughts. I gripped my trusty steed, familiarizing my hands with the leather handle, the Babolat racquet becoming an extension of my forearm. As my left hand joined the fray, my mind became fully tuned, and my peripheral vision sharpened.
The teams were tied, so all the pressure was on Nicole, my doubles partner, and me. The score of the set was 5-3, and the current game was deuced. I took a deep breath and briefly reminded myself of Coach’s encouraging words: “I don’t care if we’re up against a team of Serenas and Sharapovas, we must treat every point like it’s our last.” The funny thing was this point was our last, as in the deciding point of the deciding game of the deciding set which ultimately would decide whether or not my team would advance to the finals.
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Nicole turned her head towards me, giving me an anxious look. I gave her a reassuring wink and smile, and she nodded back at me, her confidence clearly restored.
I had always considered myself an independent person. Whenever my class would be assigned a group project, I’d supervise all the work. In addition to being an outside-the-box kind of thinker, I was also very energetic and athletic, but, team sports were never my forte. That’s why I chose to play tennis, just my racquet and me against the opposition. However, I had failed to consider the possibility of playing doubles, but as fate would have it, that’s exactly the position in which I ended up.
I peered at my rival as she got ready to deliver yet another striking serve. She bounced the neon-yellow ball three times before tossing it vertically into the air, thereby signaling the start of the game. With one swift motion, she swatted it over the net. Just like that my feet darted towards the service line, my racquet ready to catch the short ball on the rise. I threw my body into the shot, and spun the ball deep into my opponent’s side of the court. And so the rally began.
The ball flew back and forth across the net, landing short and far, left and right, all over the court. Nicole and I cooperated very well, carefully reading each other’s body language. There was a ball coming low in between us, and I knew I would have to let her get it. Though she had once expressed how she was uncomfortable at the net, I trusted her. As she approached the ball, we made brief eye contact, and I gave her yet another comforting wink. She got there and smashed it over. Phew. It came right back and she volleyed it cross court. Wow, go Nicole! I backed up and prepared myself for the ball that was rocketing toward me, with all the speed and menace of a bullet. I slammed it back into my opponent’s alley and she hit it right over my head. I ran to get the overhead but it was too high and too far. I swung and missed. The point was over, and so was the game, and the tennis season. I watched as our adversaries roared and cheered, celebrating their victory. Although a part of me envied them, I felt oddly relieved and content, even proud; proud of my partner for those risky shots, proud of my team for making it this far, and proud of myself.
Before joining the team, I let my drive to succeed influence my interactions with others. But over time I’ve realized that true success comes from compassion, communication, and most importantly, trust, the essence of teamwork. Without trust there can be no giving, no bonding, no risk-taking. But let’s just say, now, trust is a risk I’m willing to take.