A Tennis Life


MacDonald and two of her tennis students

Elle MacDonald, Reporter

Ever since I was twelve, I have been a tennis player. It was who I was, how I spent my time, what my friends knew me as, and what my school associated me with. If I was nothing else, I was a tennis player. Tennis was a part of how I carried myself, so instrumental in forming the valuable skills that I keep with me to this day and as I continue forward. 

Being a tennis player was not always easy. During the height of my training, I was doing six-hour training blocks in the summer, 5:30 a.m. workouts on school days, and conditioning in my free time. It was a serious commitment that seldom allowed time for anything else. I formed close bonds with my coaches and hitting partners and was constantly pushed for more; more hitting, more conditioning, more outside practice. It was extremely difficult, yet I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. 

My coach often joked that his lessons covered more than just tennis, that he was my life coach. Looking back over the years, he was absolutely correct. The learning experiences, however painful, went on every single day. 

The temperature, often hitting triple digits in the summer only to be magnified by the hardcourt’s reflective nature, was crippling. Waiting for instruction came with shifting foot-to-foot, for fear of melting into the ground if still for too long. My coach preached about mental toughness, one of his favorite concepts. Beyond mental toughness, it took a mental fortitude to endure the spider and eight-ball drills, double-court suicides, or my least favorite, shuttle ball runs, as the heat intensified. 

However, in my times of uncertainty and questioning, I realized that if I could push through my distaste for 5 a.m. hill sprints, whatever I was facing surely couldn’t be too difficult. 

Being a tennis player taught me how to conduct myself around others. It taught me how to manage myself and my time, how to work toward a goal even if it was at a crawl’s pace. 

However, as I went through high school, I found my goal of playing collegiate tennis less and less appealing. I had begun to dread the long hours of practice as opposed to looking forward to them. With my job teaching kids ages 2-12 keeping me on the court for even longer than before, I was more looking forward to the kids than my practice. My schedule whittled down to only three practices a week. 

I am thankful for my tennis career every day of my life. 

While I won’t be playing for my college’s team, I know I will cherish the memories.

I will soon be outgrowing this intense facet of my daily regimen. As this part of myself and my life winds down, I look forward to forging a new identity as I continue in my growth and learning.