I was recently asked by my cousins why I play such a weak sport like tennis. Granted, these are the same cousins who bought their most recent home based off the quality of the deer stand in the back yard—which if you didn’t know is a cage up in a tree used for hunting deer—to paint the tableau of who we are dealing with. The point remains however that plenty of people seriously underestimate how unique a sport tennis is. This comes to the constant exasperation of all the people out there who have played the sport and have realized all its complexities. Having grown up playing competitive tennis up to an NCAA college level, let me clear the air once and for all and fill all you non-tennis players in on everything you are missing.
1. The amount of athleticism involved.
People who don’t play tennis think that all you have to do is simply ‘knock’ the ball back over the net like a game of patty cake for the opponent to get it. This is false. The guy on the other end of the court is trying to hit the ball as hard as he can to the furthest possible spot from where you are currently standing. You have maybe 2 seconds to sprint to where you think the ball is going to be, catch your balance and momentum, then completely redirect that momentum in order to hit the ball to the opposite side of the court from which it’s coming from…and that’s just one shot. Now do that over and over and over and over and over again. That’s a point. Now do that for another point. And then another….
2. You are out there alone.
This is the serious kicker that people do not realize when playing this sport. In team sports, you have other guys out there to channel your emotions, keep you mentally on track, strike up a conversation with, etc. There is a coach on the sidelines to call plays, give you strategy, and kick your ass into gear.
In tennis, you are the coach, player, strategist, cheerleader, pep talk giver, shrink—you name it, you gotta do it. And it’s not like other sports where some people play defense and others offense, or where some throw, block, run, catch. There aren’t guys who hit only forehands or backhand or serves. You do everything.
And then there’s the frustration. Sometimes it feels like a solitary confinement sentence on a tennis court. Even the most calm and collected person will succumb to fits of rage; outbursts; and will berate themselves, their ability to play the sport, and the assholes who thought of tennis in the first place.
3. Attractive people play tennis.
Okay, so maybe this is unrelated to the competition of the sport, but its a point that should be seriously considered when picking up a racket. Hot people are attracted to tennis. I can’t explain it, it’s a fact that just simply exists, like gravity. And newsflash: you can play with the opposite sex. In case you just missed that, you can play tennis with the opposite sex. Trust me guys, an hour of tennis is going to get you way further with a girl than a game of one on one basketball. It’s exercise and an instant date all in one. And the tennis dresses brands are rolling out with these days? Come on, bro, it’s a no-brainer.
4. You can play ‘til you’re 80.
I’m serious about this one, too. Other than golf, I don’t see any other sport when you can play it literally your entire life. There are members at my tennis club who are over 80 years old and still get out there to play. They’re not very fast or limber, mind you, but let’s see you try and pick up a game of pig skin in those twilight years. Whoever wins is the guy who doesn’t break his hip.