disappointment = lessons

One of the most meaningful endeavors in my life thus far has been tennis: falling in love with and learning to play tennis in my early teen years; appreciating the sport for its history; meeting interesting people and cultivating lifelong relationships through the sport; teaching children the sport through local recreation summer programs; teaching family members and friends to play, and appreciate the sport; using it as a focus for my lifelong commitment to physical and mental health; and of course watching the grand slam tournaments all year-long; waking up early on weekends to watch the drama unfold, sharing in the hopes and dreams of superior athletes as they compete on some of the world’s grandest and most historic sports stages.

Some folks use Christmas as a time reference, some use birthdays or anniversaries, and any number of other special occasions. For me, the most exciting thing about January is the Australian Open Tennis Championships the first grand slam of the year. This tournament sort of sets the tone for the upcoming tennis year, gets the party started. Next up is my least favorite of the slams, and the impetus for this entry, Roland Garros, also known as the French Open. More on this later. At the end of June is my all-time favorite tournament, Wimbledon a magical two weeks of tennis. Don’t get me wrong, I love the U.S. Open at the end of the summer, especially since one of my all-time favorite players, Andy Roddick hoisted the trophy once upon a time. That was a magical run for Andy, but I digress.

I generally have a better-than-average record for predicting winners in the slams. However, this year’s French Open had me second-guessing all over the place. If you’d told me Robby Ginepri, an American with a #98 world ranking of all things (Americans historically play very poorly on the red clay of Paris) would make it to the fourth round, and be the last American standing…..wrong, you’re nuts. If you’d told me Robin Soderling would knock out the greatest player of all time, Roger Federer….again, you’re being silly. And, if you’d told me that both women playing for the ladies title would be players who have never been to a grand slam final I’d have doubted you mightily. Well, you’d have been right.

What I discovered is that even when my picks don’t make it through to the later rounds, I still enjoy watching the matches. Kind of like indy films where I don’t know any of the actors but the script is solid and the movie quite enjoyable. While I definitely enjoy seeing my favorite players succeed and win, I found that I still enjoyed the great spirit of competition offered in this year’s very unexpected French Open. It’s reassuring and almost comforting to see my favorites win, but sometimes, the unexpected reminds me that tennis truly is a microcosm of “real life” where you can work harder than anyone else, and completely and totally dedicate yourself to the cause, and still come up short. I suppose bitter disappointment is what makes victory all the sweeter.

Having said that, I will be sorely disappointed if one of my favorites of all time, Andy Roddick doesn’t add a Wimbledon victory to his resume this year. And if he doesn’t, well at least we’ve been reminded that somehow, life goes on.

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~ by William Maloney on June 8, 2010.

7 Responses to “disappointment = lessons”

  1. Truer words are rarely spoken by a better wordsmith. Well said!

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  2. Now that I think of it the greater moral to this story is that I have a chance at beating you at tennis. All I have to do is drop 60, train for 25 years, then …
    you will be just old enought to only bet me by a set. Crap, even in my head that didnt end well.

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  3. I don’t know if you can teach me to appreciate tennis. I had a terrible instructor in a college tennis class once. I’ll tell you some time. =)

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    • Jenna: First, wow thanks for stopping by! I think tennis is a sport that you either learn to love early, or get into later in life socially and enjoy it as just another social activity…like bowling I suppose…kind of. Come to think of it, if the only experience I’d had with it was my college elective (didn’t enjoy mine either: the tennis coach was forced to teach it, and it showed) I wouldn’t appreciate it either. I kind of like when you come out to watch, and read/study on the sidelines…awesome…now all you need is a big, lacy umbrella and a mojito! Huh? Yeah?

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      • I have always loved your passion about tennis Bill. Do you recall encouraging me to try out for the tennis team sophmore year? I failed miserably, not even an alternate. Truly love reading your blogs, especially “dissapointment =lessons”……and share with you the deep appreciation of the game. Cant wait to attend one of the Grand Slams with you one day! How about Wimbledon in 2011?

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      • Marky Mark Mark! Howdy. Yes, I do remember the tennis team tryouts…the coach was drunk, that’s why you didn’t make it, LOL! Thank you, my good friend, for taking the time to read and reply. And, yes, Wimbledon 2011 is a done deal. Make your plans. XOXO

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