For me the phrase ‘Tennis anyone?’ has always conjured up a mental picture of clear blue skies, white outfits, sun visor caps, and hitting a few balls around the court. However, the real fact of the matter is that there are those who ‘really’ play tennis, and those who don’t, and there are good reasons why.
When hubby and I were first married, we decided to get fit … as you do when you’re young and energetic, and tennis was how we chose to do it. Hubby had played quite a lot of it in his younger days, and as it had been my chosen summer sport in high school, we figured tennis was definitely for us. So with the court booked for a daily hit, off we trotted every morning at 7 a.m. sharp with balls and rackets in tow, and looking very sharp in our tennis gear.
And we loved it! Full of morning energy we’d get out there and serve with confidence, relishing that sound the ball makes after it hits the racket. And then we’d tear around the court trying to hit it at the other end. We thought we were doing really well. We’d arrive home hot and sweaty, jump into the shower, and because we felt so terrific after running around for an hour, we’d say to each other, ‘Wasn’t that great!’ Oh yes, we were playing tennis!
Then one morning, about a week or so later, the owner of the courts sauntered over as we were leaving, and with a good natured good-morning nod said, “I’ve been watching you two!” And then as he slowly shook his head from side to side, the look on his face said it all. Obviously we weren’t doing nearly as well as we thought ~ we needed lessons, and the very next day we were hitting balls that were flying at us from a machine!
But that became very boring, as did the game of tennis, and we soon gave it up. Why? Because for us there was no sense of healthy competition! Not the kind where you want to wipe others out at all cost and win; the kind where you get a spark to try harder. Hubby and I have certainly never been in competition with each other. We are partners, both in marriage and business, and our partnership has always been built on teamwork. In how we operated our business, however, we always had that competitive edge. But unfortunately, tennis just didn’t do it for us.
While plenty of people will say otherwise, having a healthy competitive spirit can be a good thing. As I have intimated, I’m not talking about comparing yourself with others or competing for a trophy. I’m talking about using it to challenge ourselves, learn, grow and move forward. Of course we learn and grow in many ways, and healthy competition is but one. On a spiritual level, there is no competition, but in our everyday lives, it is not only a natural thing, it can be extremely useful. It can create incentive and be motivational, energising a fire within that helps us do better, take a chance and even try something new. It can also help us be more creative and inventive, and in so doing, it spurs innovation.
Even in the most competitive environment, if we stay true to high ethical standards while seeking our goal, then competition can be a very healthy growth experience. It helps to set benchmarks and encourages progress. Without it, where would civilization be?
So, there was no ‘game, set, and match’ in our tennis experience. If someone was to say: ‘Tennis anyone?’ I don’t think we would even bother to look up, but give us a challenge where we could tickle our competitive spirit, and we’d feel right at home. We’d play that game very well indeed and have loads of fun doing it too!
Inara Hawley © 2014