I wasn’t the greatest tennis player in the world, but in high school I played on a team that was usually in the top 2-3 in our district and the top 10 in the state. My home state was a pretty competitive tennis state, so that wasn’t a small achievement. I was on the varsity team in the 10th grade, playing mixed doubles (basically the #4 guy on the varsity team). I just missed the cut to letter, but by my junior year I was up to the #2/#3 guy on the team, playing men’s doubles, and a few times I even played at the #1 position. By my senior year I was pretty much in a good position to challenge for #1 although there were definitely two guys much better than me on the team (both seniors, like me), and one junior who was probably better although not really “into” it that much – he tended to skip practices and miss tournaments, which obviously meant the coach didn’t trust him much.
I had a love/hate relationship with tennis throughout high school. It dominated my daily life more than anything except my studies, really. However, the day I played my last tennis match as a senior, I more or less quit forever. I think I played sporadically that summer but basically I quit playing for anything more than just idle “hit-arounds” at that point.
But I learned a few thing about sports from those days playing tennis, and some of those lessons apply to life past sports, as well.
I don’t think I’ll ever take up tennis again. I enjoyed it intensely while I played it, and then I put down my racket and walked away without ever looking back (I took up lacrosse instead). Every activity or interest in life is a step. If that activity continues to lead you forward, hold on to it. If it doesn’t, let it go. I’ve taken up many interests in my life – hobbies, studies, jobs, sports and even TV shows – that I cherished, used or enjoyed and then left behind. Make sure that each activity is a building block, and not a filler – if it’s building you up as a person, it’s never going to be wasted time.