Forgiveness on the Courts 7


Todays match was totally different than our last one. Yesterday we were in total synch, both of us playing great at the same time for the length of the match.

We played well together for the first set, winning it 6-2 and we rolled in the second set to a 5-2 lead. Up two service breaks it looked like a fast afternoon that wouldn’t take much out of our tiring bodies.

And then, on the verge of victory, we fell out of rhythm. First I missed a couple of routine volleys, then we had a mixup on a ball up the middle and we had dropped serve for the first time in the match.

They won their serve game as, from deuce, Charlie and I couldn’t win two points in a row. Playing the deuce side, he would win his return point and I would then miss. Or he would lose his return point and I would win mine.
They held serve.

Still up 6-2, 5-4 our confidence was dropping. Too many errors. Too many playing “not to lose” shots. My serve games had been routine so we should have been in good shape. Not the case. I hit a double fault to start the game. Then another moment of confusion on a ball up the middle. I lost my serve with another double fault. Long story. We lost a tiebreaker and were dead even in the match.

This is tennis. If you blink once a game is over. If you blink twice you can be in the locker room. And this can happen even more in doubles as the tendency is to blame your partner for their errors and your own errors are blamed on your partner because of being annoyed with your partner.

But Charlie and I have been here before. What helped us get it together was the forgiveness that we felt for each other’s mistakes. It is the game. We know that errors happen not because of lack of effort but because eah of us is unable to be perfect. So I forgave Charlie and he forgave me and we stayed connected. We kept talking to each other, supporting each other, keeping the team together.

No blaming. It is always a team effort.

This was the strength of our relationship.

I was a little deflated after the second set. Charlie took over by bringing his energy up. He led the way. Mine picked up as we broke serve to a 2-0 lead. We cruised through the final set 6-2.

Even when I played an out ball on our first match point, fogiveness. What a powerful team strategy.

We stuck together. We, as always, win and lose together. Today we won.

By the strength of our relationship even more than the strength of our games.

Finals on Friday.


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7 thoughts on “Forgiveness on the Courts

  • Irwin Shorr

    Thank you, as always, Bob, for providing an inroad into your insightful way to live life — both on and off the court. “Blaming” others for a situation translates into not being accountable in any way for an outcome – not a good way to live life both on and off the court. Your choice of words in your blog describing your relationship with Charlie has depth and meaning — ‘not blaming’, ‘forgiveness’… There’s another word that describes many, both on and off the court — “Anger”. You once wrote in a blog, “When my life is good, my tennis is good.” When one’s life is good, there is no room for blame or anger – they just aren’t there — the good takes up so much room that there is no place for words such as ‘blame’ or ‘anger’ that inevitably pave the way for “bad stories”. Someone who is at peace with him/herself, exhibits a sense of inner calm that is palpable — again, both on and off the court. You always tell “Good Stories”,Bob, which we can all learn from and apply to life… yes, that’s right… both on and off the court!

  • Catch-the-Line

    Thanks Bob! Good insight. I have had matches where I was forgiving and matches where I needed forgiveness. No matter the outcome I always enjoy myself and my beer better when I’m forgiving. It’s harder I think to receive forgiveness, but it does remind me of the continued work I need on my game. I hate to let my partner down. Forgiving myself is the hardest.

  • Stacy McHugh

    Oh Bob, thank you for sharing this! It is reassuring and heart warming and gives me a framework to bring to my doubles game. I am adrift right now without a partner, but I have in mind, thanks in part to you, what it can look like. So appreciative of you and your willingness to share yourself.

  • Dennis Tucker

    This reminds me of when I lived and played in Laguna Beach, Ca. There was a guy whom I often played with and against in doubles. He was an emotional guy and if he started making mistakes, he would easily slip into kind of a defeatist state and then as a result, would usually lose.
    I could see that he also felt bad that he was the one responsible for the losses. Just a lot of feelings and thoughts that were of the future and the past. Not in the here and now.

    So I figured out the solution.

    Whenever I played with him, I told him right before the match and if necessary, a reminder during the match,
    “Ron, it doesn’t matter how many mistakes you make, it’s OK. Just let them go.” [or something to that effect]

    The results of me doing that was, when we played together, we almost always won.

    For this to work the best, I had to make sure that in my mind, it WAS ok for him to fail and not to harshly judge him.
    Thought are things and they do influence those around you.