Above every sport, tennis is my favorite. I started playing when I was 6. Back then, I lived in Paris with my mom and her husband. In our neighborhood, there was a big country club with tennis courts and a wall. One summer, I was playing there with my friend close to the tennis courts, two teenage guys were hitting some balls on one of them. I stopped playing and started watching at them. They were hitting the balls with grace and ease. I was fascinated by the game and captivated by the sound the ball would make every time it hit the strings, it was music to my ears (not to say that one of the two guys was also tremendously cute!). That day I decided I wanted to start playing tennis, so I ran back home and asked my mom to buy me a racket.
A few days later, with my brand new racket, my mom took me to the courts and got me my very first tennis lesson. In my mind, I was convinced I could easily play like the two guys I had seen on the courts. I had observed their moves so well that I thought I could easily repeat them, it didn’t look like a big deal. As you can imagine I woke up on a different reality. My first tennis lesson was a complete disaster! I wasn’t even able to catch the ball. The few times I could, it would fly up in the sky or end up into the net, it’d go anywhere but in the court. I felt so frustrated but I’ve been lucky enough to have great training from the very beginning.
My first coach was very patient and good with kids. At the end of our first lesson he took me to the wall, gave me a soft ball, and showed me how I could practice against it and get familiar with the movement. He said “This wall is a good friend. If you listen to it, it will teach you everything he knows about tennis”, so I started. A few years, thousands and thousands of balls against the wall and hours of lessons later, I was 10 and won my first junior tournament.
I never forgot the lesson my first tennis coach taught me that day. In Life as in tennis, there are many times we are faced to a wall. We know that everything we want is on the other side of the wall and the only way to get there is to break through it. It would be so easy if only we had some kind of super hero power that would allow us to open a fence with laser eyes or make us propel in the air with a bionic jump and land intact on the other side. Sadly 99% of the times that doesn’t happen because we are humans (in case you are wondering, the 1% left is represented by geniuses) and one and only way we can break through a wall and accomplish our goals is through Action and Discipline.
Athletes commit to a rigorous training every day. Musicians practice thousands of arrangements before they compose a symphony or a song. The best actors put hours and hours in rehearsals and scene study in order to embody their characters. Greatness in its every aspect requires passion, commitment, a plan and discipline, discipline, discipline. Michael Jordan, one of the greatest basketball players ever existed once said: “Commitment cannot be compromised by rewards. Excellence isn’t a one-week or one-year ideal. It’s a constant. There will be days when you don’t feel on top of your game, or meetings in which you aren’t at your best, but your commitment remains constant
I never pursued a tennis career, although at some point in my life I had a chance to do it but I guess the Universe had different plans for me, which I’m very happy about. Today, tennis remains my favorite sport, I still play it regularly and I keep training against the wall when I don’t have a partner to play with. Tennis teaches me about Life, commitment and discipline, it keeps my body and my mind in great shape, helps me to improve my skills and shows me how every single action I take is a step froward to break through any wall or obstacle I may encounter along my path.
“You will never have a greater or lesser dominion than that over yourself (…) the height of a man’s success is gauged by his self-mastery; the depth of his failure by his self-abandonment. (…) And this law is the expression of eternal justice. He who cannot establish dominion over himself will have no dominion over others.”
Leonardo da Vinci –
“Til the next one!