“We’re #13! We’re #13!”
It’s not much of a rallying cry, I admit. But when there are only fourteen teams in your division, ending in thirteenth place can be definitely worth cheering.
This last weekend, my Saturday league team played the final match of our very long season. Our team had spent the entire season in last place. Dead last. A couple of months ago, we lagged by six points. (Trust me–that’s a lot.) We came into this final match two points behind our nearest competitor. And…
…we ended up winning by a half a point! (Winning, of course, is a relative term here.) By finishing in second-to-last place, we’ve earned the right to stay in this division next year. Had we lost, we’d have dropped back down to the division we won last year.
I won’t lie–this was a tough season. It’s not fun getting your butt kicked week in and week out. At times, I wondered what we were even doing in this division. Maybe, I thought, it wouldn’t be so bad to return to the lower level.
And, in truth, it wouldn’t have been. We played many challenging matches that year, and the playoffs were true nail-biters. But it wasn’t the consistent butt-kicking we received this season.
Platitude alert: While sometimes demoralizing, it’s only through your challenges that you grow. Playing it safe won’t stretch your game.
Thinking about our nutty season, I came up with three takeaways:
1. Always look for a chance to get your butt kicked. A double-bagel win may feel nice to the ego, but a double-bagel loss will show you what you need to learn. If I want to get better, I need to swallow my pride and play the people who scare me.
2. Consistency matters. God knows I love my winners, but at this level my winners come back. (Hate that.) I could try hitting even better winners, but that seems kind of hard. The easiest route to more points is fewer unforced errors.
3. Finally, never give up. Even when you feel outclassed, there’s always a chance. Sheer dumb doggedness counts for so much, in tennis and everything else in life.
Congratulations to my Saturday team! We’re #13–let’s celebrate!!
Do you welcome the chance to play out of your league? Or do you prefer to play at your level and enjoy a more equal competition?