Tennis and I go back a long way, ever since I was a little kid, and my Dad first taught me how to play. Make no mistake; I was never a good enough to play the grand slams, but I love the game and owe it so much!
As a sophomore I was the number one player on our East Orange High School tennis team. I posted a 2-13 record that year.
The first of the “2” occurred when the number one player from our cross town rival Clifford Scott, Henry Paillard, was not playing, and I got a win over their not-as-strong number 2, Bob Lawrie.
My second win, though, was huge! We played each of our conference rivals twice. In our first meeting at West Orange, I did not only lose; I received a 6-0, 6-1 drubbing from Jay Saunders. Maybe Jay took me for granted when they came to our courts a couple of weeks later, but I earned a 6-4, 6-4 win. I was so proud!
I was EO’s number one for three years, and in those three years I lost to Kearny’s Cal Trevenen six straight times. In those six matches I won only one set, the first set of the first match we played when we were sophomores.
At Hamilton College I became a better player earning a 50-3 record in three years on the varsity and winning a couple of NCAA, college division, regional tournaments and being the finalist in another.
My breakthrough came freshman year.
In those days freshmen were not allowed to play varsity, and I was the number one player on our freshman team. Who should walk out on the court as my opponent for our opening match against Colgate – at Colgate, no less – but Kearny’s Cal Trevenen! But this time I did something I honestly thought I couldn’t do and grabbed a straight set victory. I defeated Cal again when Colgate came to Hamilton.
I reached out to Cal about two years ago (he is a successful attorney in Montclair, NJ), and though he was very gracious, he really didn’t even remember who I was. I can never forget him, though, for helping teach me one of life’s most important lessons:
Yesterday is gone. It doesn’t matter anymore.
Do the best you can right now, and who knows what good things can happen?
5 thoughts on “Life Lessons from My Love Affair with Tennis — 1”
This is a funny anecdote.
When there’s 2 people involved both must be willing to let go of the past.
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You are right, Tony! Thanks for you comment!
As another tennis loving Rabbi- I have taken so much from tennis to share in my Rabbinate.
2) be in the moment for the entire match
3) you are only as good as your competitor
4) in singles it is you and your racquet, nothing else matters. In doubles you need to work together as a team and create signals that only you understand
5) we all have rites and rituals that we do before taking the court
6) we remember our opponents and our teachers long after they have inspired us
7) each of my coaches from my father, to my coach-coach who taught me for many years, to my camp coaches and high school coach- before the big accident, gave me something different to take to the game
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Wow! Renee, this is terrific. Are you still able to play? I would LOVE to talk more about this with you!