Column: The spirit of competition and playing the best of the best
It seems the human race thrives to a large degree in the art of competition - who can do what - bigger and better than the next person, team, region, section, business, state or even nation.
There’s the best of the best and then the best of each level, the best of each age category, broken into juniors, adults, seniors and super-seniors. Trying to excel at your chosen competition is taxing, exhilarating, frustrating, time-taking, and quite the up and down learning experience.
The learning curve moves upward quite rapidly when you first start off and then plateau’s, gains a little and then plateau’s again. The gains move much slower as you get better and better.
When you play against better players it gives you the opportunity to learn the intricacies’ of what they’re doing to be at the next rung you want to reach.
Many times you reach the point of training and you own the basics, the right moves in normal situations, and then you get to see how well you deal with pressure, performing under the gun and not getting rattled.
Holding serve in the first couple games of a set that’s a competitive match isn’t the same as holding your serve in a tie-break, or is it?
The brain and thought patterns seems to rule under pressure - maybe that’s the next step to the next level.
Your motivation to become a better player might start with just hitting around with some friends socially to then wanting to be the best player in your group.
Someone see’s you’re hitting pretty well and you’re asked to join another group, then a team.
A tournament is coming up and you wonder what that’s all about and decide to try. You do well enough to put a few more on your schedule and think about what the next level of players would be like to test.
Your team win’s their regional event and you get to go to sectionals - you like the competition and camaraderie.
You decide to become a captain and put a really good team together to see if you might make it to nationals.
After years of playing many of your best friends are enjoying what you are - playing the game you’ve learned to love, compete with and against and it’s not just locally, but state and nation-wide as well.
What you’re doing is healthy, tests your mind and body, gives you a drive in life, a good social outlet, is relatively inexpensive, can be played almost anywhere in the world and knows no language barriers - so what started as just a friendly game of trying to swat a small yellow ball over the net has become a special friend in a world we might call the “Spirit of Competition.”
Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 45 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 928-642-6775 or firstname.lastname@example.org.