A number of years ago, I had a standing weekly date to play singles with my friend Megan. She was a lot better than I was (still is), but I did my best to keep up with her.
Being at heart a doubles player, I’d come to the net at any opportunity. Coming to net was rarely successful against Megan who could rifle passing shots from even the most improbable positions. Unfortunately, rallying with her from the baseline wasn’t a good strategy, either, so I just went to the net and got passed. Over and over. Very discouraging.
One day during a water break, after she’d passed me yet again to win the game, she said, “It’s so funny. You’re not a big person, but when you rush the net, you sound like a herd of elephants.”
(Maybe that makes her sound more like a frenemy, but she’s really not. Imagine the nicest way you could compare someone to stampeding pachyderms, and that’s the way she said it.)
As you can see, this comment has stayed with me. Every now and then, when I’m following my groundstroke into the net, I picture myself, all lumbering blubber in a tennis skirt, the ground quaking with each thunderous footfall.
So imagine my surprise during a recent round robin when two different partners told me I’m light on my feet. I’m quite sure no one has ever said that to me before–I’d remember such a specific compliment. I’ve been called fast, but never “light on my feet.”
Could it be that my September tennis challenge is paying dividends? After the frustrating serving challenge of July and August, I sure hope so.
You may remember that I said hitting against the wall was improving my footwork. The ball comes at you so fast, you have no time to stand around flat-footed. You’re always on the move, which makes it easier to take the small steps and get into the perfect position. I’m happy to see that this improvement has begun to carry over to my match play.
So September’s challenge has been at least partially successful–but what about my good luck charm? I said last week that I would devote extra attention to my good luck buddy by going through the motions of putting him in my bag each day. Most days I did that. And another day my partner and I rubbed his ears for luck.
I’m sad to report that my little friend doesn’t appear to have any magical powers, at least when it comes to tennis. I won one match but lost another. Most tellingly, when my partner and I were in a dismal seven-game losing streak, I yanked our mascot out of his cozy pocket and stuffed him into the dark depths of my tennis bag. Immediately we began winning again. (Could he be a bad luck charm??? I hope not because he’s awfully cute.)
What does all this prove? Unfortunately, it seems to prove that hard work pays off and lazily relying on luck does not.