The Love of Tennis
When we talk about the best athletes we know that he or she must be passionate and devote their life to whatever their passion is. Now what separates an athlete from a champion is that the champions are the ones that know the amount of sacrifice and self discipline required to win. Unfortunately, time will catch up to the athlete and whether it is a broken down body, or burnt out mind, they will have to retire from the game. What do you do when your favorite athlete retires? In team sports, such as baseball or basketball you can mourn the loss of your favorite player and still follow the team, even if they happen to have a losing season or two. There are even cases when your favorite athlete will turn his or her focus to commentating, sports analysis, or coaching, but the real question is this: Is the athlete truly walking away from the game?
The answer isn’t that black and white. In terms of competing from the daily grind of the sport, then yes they have retired, but have not truly walked away. To walk away, is to leave something completely behind. An athletic that has an authentic love for the game, has had this love within them when from when they were kids, and this is something that never grows old. Sure, the retired player will take time off, but it is also inevitable that within time they will feel that old magic stir within them once again. Then we see that it’s not the competing against others that drives them, rather it is the desire to test themselves, and their will. This desire is something you are born with. All the injuries, fatigue, and even retirement cannot effect the driving force that lies within every champion, and that driving force is the heart.
A champion’s heart remains pure. It will burn with that very same fuel it always had, back to when the athlete was a kid aspiring for greatness.
I can recall when my sports hero Andy Roddick retired at the 2012 US Open. He said, “I knew it was time when I couldn’t win or feel like I couldn’t compete at the highest level.” What Roddick is saying is that he mentally and physically had given it his all and he has nothing left in the tank. He was very clear that he is not retiring because tennis is not fun anymore, or he has lost his love for game. Could you even fall out of love with a sport you’ve devoted your life to? Maybe, but then did you even really loved it to begin with? It’s doubtful. Even the great Andre Agassi who had a love/hate relationship with tennis, admitted at the end of his career that he realized he loved tennis for what it gave him.
There’s a quote from the movie A Peaceful Warrior where a character Socrates (the spiritual trainer) tells his student, “A warrior does not give up what he loves, he finds the love in what he does.”
The Champions Tour serves this purpose for the former professional tennis player. Courier and McEnroe have been competing in this event for a while now. To their credit they have put it on the map.
Now, Andy Roddick will be making his debut on the championship senior tour this year, and I have no doubt that when Roddick plays his matches we will get to see just how much he loves this sport. Roddick will entertain with his strokes, but also with his personality. He will ham it up and joke around with the crowd, while trying his hardest to win as he always does, but he will also try to have fun. Perhaps the champion tour serves more of a purpose than we think. Maybe it’s more than just something for the old guys to do. Maybe the real intention is for players to not only test themselves, but to recapture some of that old magic.That magic being the fun and love for a game that existed when all they cared about was being fortunate enough to just play.