Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Are you tennis obsessed (or possessed)?

I am really not sure what it is about tennis that is so addictive. It's like a drug in that it can consume you.

No, I'm not talking about when a Grand Slam tournament is being played, and you feel like you have to watch the entire event; a problem which is exacerbated by the fact that three of them are played in time zones that require sleep deprivation.

I'm referring to the "tennis bug" that one gets when one first starts playing the sport. When I first starting playing tennis, I was obsessed with getting better, with being able to control that little yellow ball, to make it go where I wanted it to go. Then, if you're competitive at all, you want to win. And of course, as one gets better and wins more and more, one starts playing even better opponents, and the cycle continues until it feels like a treadmill that never ends. However, unlike the grind of a work schedule, this one is fun!

If one then takes on the responsibility of being a tennis captain, the obsession is taken to another level entirely. It's not now just your game that matters, but the success of the entire team is dependent upon you taking the right actions to enable it. One has to find players, establish pairings, put together lineups, and constantly make adjustments until the balance is right. One may also have to endure criticisms from one's own teammates, who's focus is more inwardly so, and deal with opposing captains who, like you, are trying to maneuver situations (such as rain-outs) to their team's advantage.

Not everyone is willing or cut out to be a leader, because it can be wearing. For example, this season, I haven't been sleeping very well. When I wake up, it's because I'm thinking about my players, the next match, my lineup, and the contingencies in case there is a rain-out, etc. Before becoming a captain again, my only obsessions were: my own performance (whether it was reliving and replaying points and matches in my mind, or worrying about whether I would play well during a forthcoming challenge) and whether I got to play enough - was put in the lineup - during the season.

Although this current "team-focused" obsession appears to be paying off - the mixed doubles ALTA team that I captain has just made the playoffs and may win its division - I will be glad when this season is over.

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