Sunday, January 16, 2011

Tennis, Anyone?

So far, a very relaxing and rewarding weekend! It's been pretty quiet here since SportsBoy is away at a tennis tournament this weekend. Miss him! But he's having a great time and these tournaments have been great - he is really excited to play tennis now!

Mr. Wonderful and I are very keen on the sport. We both grew up playing tennis with our families, played in college (we actually met on the college tennis courts) and still play several times a week. While SportsBoy has always been involved in various sports, tennis was never a draw for him. He took his group lessons but grumbled about going and never wanted to get on a court to hit some balls when he didn't have a lesson.

He would explain that he likes team sports, and having watched him for years in the team sport setting, I knew what he meant. He is the kid who dies for his team - but mostly from the sidelines. SB is not very aggressive, not very loud, not an extroverted leader and not the coach's kid. So his playing time over the seasons and years has ranged from almost none to about 75%. Anyway, lots of playing time or not, he looks forward to every practice and every game. He cheers his teams and analyzes every play after the games (he has a great head for sports analysis, I must admit). He just loves being on a team, and will happily and eagerly play whatever role is needed - even if it's sideline cheerleader. (Mind you, this is recreational sports - not travel, so there's really no excuse for a kid to get ZERO playing time - but that has happened!)

So this year, our tennis club got a couple of new pros for the junior program. SB had been on a break from tennis for six months or so and reluctantly, when school began, agreed to take some group lessons again. Amazingly, after the first session, the pros invited him to move up to the next group. Yowza! Two hours of tennis and SB could barely get any of the other kids' balls back. They hit so hard and were so fast. But the pros said he had the potential to be in this group and SB stuck with it. Now - about three months later, he's squarely in the middle of the pack. Progress!

So the pros have begun taking a group of kids to tournaments in different cities. None of the kids are superstars - they're all pretty much like SportsBoy. They travel together in vans, room together, and cheer each other on during their matches. SportsBoy is hooked! Tennis has become a team sport for him! He's improved markedly during each match, and has found some friends to play tennis with at the club. We are so happy! Well, right now I'm happier than Mr. Wonderful. He has chaperoned these trips, so today he's more tired than happy. But the happiness will resurface after a good nap! :-)

So why have we pushed tennis onto our kid who loves other sports? A few reasons. We live in a city where team sports are very competitive, and we know there is no way SB will be able to continue playing after he ages out of the recreational programs (which will be soon). SB is creative and cerebral and contained. He could easily amuse himself all day without any exercise or outdoor playtime. He also loves sweets and other treats. With Mr. Wonderful's family history in mind, we think it's important to make sure SB has the option to do something athletic for the rest of his life. Tennis will do that for him.

Also, SB is the kind of kid who takes a while to bloom. He is very thoughtful, calculating and cautious - he doesn't just "go for it." In tennis, he can choose his playing time - he can practice as much as he wants, go to as many tournament as we can afford (time and money), and hopefully have some time to get confidence in his maturing, developing athletic self. He is not used to being seen as a team star. Just this year his basketball coach told SB he was one of the team's go-to guys, and SB didn't really know how to process that responsibility. We think tennis will allow him to work through all that on his own time.

And even if we're wrong about all that, we enjoy sharing this activity with SB and seeing him get excited about it. Mr. Wonderful and I have made many friends over the years on a tennis court, and hope SB will do the same.

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