I have a confession to make. Whilst my son has now played almost 150 tennis competitions and my eight year old daughter has played in over 60 events, I have never played a competitive tennis fixture. The closest I’ve come has been the Friday evening social tennis at the club where my children play.
This season my son has regularly been saying to me, ‘You don’t know what it’s like’ and whilst I can talk about experiences from my own sport, he’s right. I do know what it likes to serve for a match or to stay in a match. I do not how it feels it hit double faults which could I mean I get knocked out. So this summer I decided to put that right and to expose myself to that pressure.
We holidayed in France this year and I wanted both my children to enter the competition at the local club. Both of them were a little reluctant so to encourage them I signed up for the competition too. In future blogs I’ll discuss French competitions and playing in a different country when your own language skills are very limited but this is about how I find competition.
I suppose the first big difference between my competition and my children’s is that my aim was not to embarrass myself whereas they both want to win. Once I was in the heat of the match my competitive nature did take over but the reality was I was still playing trying not to lose rather than to win.
It is certainly different hitting those second serves, especially on break point down and there were times when I double faulted on this point. I also found the annoyance of trying to hit a winner when I created the opening only for my top spin to sail long or wide. The frustration of the scoring system was also there. That feeling of being 30-0 down and recognising the difference that one point would make either way.
One of the things that I have often discussed with my son is that at any stage in a match, anyone can win a few games on the trot but if you are the better player you just have to stay patient that your opponent will not keep this going. In my second match this duly happened and after winning the 1st set 6-1, and then being 3-2 up in the second set, I suddenly found myself set point down at 5-3. I believed that his luck would not hold and I had to keep playing my game. Ten minutes or so later, I was receiving for the set at 6-5 and I won the match.
My son did actually come and watch this match though I think he paid more attention to the Pokémon on his DS and that of his friends.
I did enjoy the experience and I certainly have more sympathy with my children’s travails than before. I played three matches in three days and my whole body was aching before the third even as someone who runs 5k’s every day. I This certainly helped me understand my son’s complaints of going back for the 2nd day of a competition.
I don’t know if I’ll play another match but it certainly was a really interesting experience. If you are a tennis parent and have never played a match, I would certainly say it was very worthwhile in trying to understand a little of the pressure that our children are under.
Ps the picture is of Aubeterre tennis club in the Charente but its not me!