Tournament Update 5

Empty Win

While sitting at breakfast this morning I checked the tournament website to make sure that my 1:00PM match time hadn’t been changed. Good thing I checked. My opponent, who had won his first round match yesterday defaulted. So, disappointingly, no match today. And nothing about which to write. Well, actually, it brought up a couple of things.

First, the question of whether I should take advantage of resting my body or should I get in a hit to help me stay tuned.
Well, I generally don’t need to practice a lot during a tournament as some players do. On the other hand, I love playing and that is what I am here to do. So I bugged everybody until,I found someone who would play and I got a nice workout.

I love playing tennis.

Second, I recalled the first time I was faced with a default in a major tournament. I was playing the National 35 and over Clay Court Championships in 1986. I had yet to win a match in a National tournament and I was scheduled to play one of the seeded players. I was so far down in the rankings that I wouldn’t have even gotten the label of an underdog. The referee came up to me at my scheduled match time and told me that my opponent had missed his flight and would probably be around two hours late. He told me that I could certainly advance by default if I wanted to. But at the same time he said that I could choose to wait and play the match. At the time, all I wanted was to be able to return to New York and to tell everyone that I made it past the first day of a National. I just didn’t know what to do. I remember asking the top player, Butch Seewagen, who I knew from NY, what I should do. He gave me my first big lesson in competing. He said, “did you come here to compete or did you come here to win?” Well, the truth for me was that I didn’t really know. But I thought about it and thought about what I would tell my daughters about it. The answer was clear. I entered the tournament to compete. I felt great about the decision. He arrived late. We played. I lost the match. I won, though, by defeating the fear of losing. It took a couple of more years before I got my first win, but ever since that day I was changed.

Several years later I was playing a fine player in the finals of the back draw of the National Grass. I wanted that win badly. My opponent hurt his back half way through the match. He wanted to retire, giving me the victory. It would have been a hollow win. So, instead, I massaged his back, helped him get to a point where he could compete and he played to the end. I won the match. The bigger win was not taking a hollow victory.

I love to compete. That is what this game is all about for me.

Match tomorrow at 9:00AM

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