Tennis: Learning Lessons

I’m  not taking tennis lessons, but tennis is teaching me lessons! Let me start at the beginning of the story.

A couple of months ago Middle Son told us he wanted to go out for tennis at the high school. He got out the old rackets from the garage and scrounged up some tennis balls. Then he asked us to take him to the tennis courts, on multiple occasions. Unfortunately, we didn’t make this a priority (we being his dad and me). There was always something that needed to be done around the house. I think he maybe went 2, or possibly 3 times. He did a tennis camp several summers ago at grandma & grandpa’s. That is the extent of his tennis experience.

Hubby and I both played tennis in high school. We weren’t stars by any means, but we were both on the team and still like tennis. However, we never play anymore. Oldest Son decided his freshman year he would tryout for tennis…until he found out there were 50 boys trying out for 24 spots. He too had not really played at all. The morning of try outs, he decided this was a bad idea and didn’t try out. As a parent, I was relieved. I hated the thought of him being cut. The rejection of being told you’re not good enough.

Yes, with hindsight, I see the error of my ways.

Fast forward to March. The night before try outs begin, Middle Son tells me he’s not sure what to do. He doesn’t know whether to try out or not.

The best I could come up with was, “what’s the worst that could happen?” That’s actually the way we play things out a lot…can you live with the worst case scenario?

His reply, “I’ll spend hours at try outs, not make the team and not get my AP Euro History outlines done.” I reminded him how much better he manages his time when he is really busy.  I really wasn’t sure what he would do when he got up in the morning.

He decided he would go for it.

He spent a couple of hours every day that week after school at try outs. And Friday I got the call from Hubby, “He made the team!” Middle Son offered the caveat that they didn’t cut anyone. And we’ve later figured out that they took 26 rather than the expected 24 players. We’ve also learned he was the 26th player. Humbling, but not devastating. He’s so OK with that. And he is working his way up. He  challenged and is #25 now and will be challenging someone today to try to move to #24. He has played one singles match and one doubles match. And he is 2-0. Not bad.

Lesson – It’s ok to let your kids fail. Had I let my fear of him being hurt by rejection guide his decision, he wouldn’t be playing tennis. And he would probably be doing a lot of “what if” thinking. Although this turned out positive, I think the lesson would bear true even if he didn’t make the team. You have to take risks to get what you want! I’m sure I am way behind some of you on learning this one. You would think I would have caught on years ago….guess I’m just late to the game.


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