Sweat dripped down my face as I anticipated my opponent’s next shot. This match decided who qualified for the Orange Bowl National tournament, the tournament I had dreamed of playing infor as long as I could remember. A multitude of nerves and excitement rushed through my body. It was match point after a tight game and I had finally taken the lead. As my opponent returned my serve I had two options: I could wait for her to miss, or I could take a risk and go for the winning shot. With little time to think, I made my decision and hit my forehand down the line to pass my opponent and win the match. Tennis has taught me the importance of taking risks, both on and off the court.
Growing up, my life revolved around tennis. I started playing at a young age and quickly formed a strong passion for the sport. As I grew older, I knew I wanted to play tennis collegiately. I started training more intensely; however, in such a small town, I realized that had fewer resources than the girls I was competing with. Despite my accomplishments, towards the end of my sophomore year of highschool, I watched my competition continue to improve while I plateaued. I was struggling with the offensive side of tennis. I always found myself playing it safe and I knew that in order to surpass my competition, I needed to make a change.
In hopes of fulfilling my goals as an athlete, I began researching boarding schools with tennis academies. I was very hesitant at first. What if I hated it? What if I didn’t improve? Or what if I got homesick? But as time went on I decided to inform my parents of this idea and after a lot of thought I had finally convinced them to let me go. I was scared to be on my own but I knew it was what I needed to do if I wanted to improve.
At the end of my senior year, I had accomplished my dreams and I had offers from many amazing schools. However, after a multitude of tournaments, fitness, and practices, my love for tennis had depleted. College tennis did not appeal to me in the way it had before and I made my decision to not play in college. Although things did not go as planned, boarding school taught me a lot about tennis, and even more about myself. Even though I decided college tennis was not for me, I have never regretted taking the risk to pursue my dreams because I learned so many valuable lessons and life skills through that experience.
Boarding school taught me to embrace risk taking on and off the court. In tennis, if you do not take risks, then you are no longer trying to win, you are trying not to lose. Similarly, I believe that you cannot be successful in life without taking risks. If I wouldn’t have taken the risk to go off to school, I would have never realized that college tennis was not for me. Although it can be frightening, it is important to embrace the value of uncertainty and to learn from past mistakes. Success is not something that will simply be handed to you; you have to pursue it.