29 June 2014
From the very ripe age of six, I began my journey as a tennis player and to this day I continue my journey, however this is only the beginning. My name is Samyuktha Rajagopalan, I’m 15 years old and I go to Wesley College. Tennis has always been a passion of mine, ever since the day I hit my first tennis ball, it’s a sport where you can express yourself as a person with your own individual talents, strengths and weaknesses. It’s a sport where everyone has their own individual style, their own way of playing but it’s a very difficult sport to succeed in. Millions of people all over the world try to become a player but only a few make it, in fact, the chances are extremely low. When it comes to tennis, it’s not just a matter of ‘natural talent’, it depends on the amount of commitment, determination and hard work a player is willing to display. The sport consists of both advantages and disadvantages and as a player I am well aware about these factors but tennis is a sport that I thoroughly enjoy, something that is not just a hobby but also an aspiration in life.
The idea of ‘natural talent’ only plays a minor part in the art of tennis. Talent is definitely a factor but it is not the key element of a player who is aspiring to be a professional at the sport. It takes a tremendous amount of hard work, dedication, commitment and experience. It takes years and years of practise to gain experience and it will take thousands of losses to understand the dynamic behind the sport. To be successful in the sport, you need to be skilled both mentally and physically. Firstly, you have to be physically able to hit a tennis ball, run and move on the tennis court and this sort of movement can only be perfected after thousands and thousands of hours practising. Mentally, you have to be able to stay focused, concentrate, continue to fight and perform well in high-pressure situations. Tennis is an extremely difficult sport, you are alone on the court and are required to fight on your own, being allowed no help or advice from his or her coaches, friends or family. It’s a lonely sport; you are forced to fight on the battlefield on your own. However the most important aspect of a tennis player is the desire, the desire to win. The mind set that no matter what the situation, you will find some way to win, whatever way that is.
For the last eight years of my life, I have played hundreds of tournaments and I have lost more matches than I have won. In each tournament there is only ever one winner, no matter how many participants. It could be a tournament consisting of sixteen players or a hundred and twenty eight players there will always be one winner. Tennis tournaments are extremely competitive, people from all over the country and even the world travel to these tournaments to play and compete against other players. As a player, I thrive on the adrenaline, the excitement when I am either serving for the match or saving the match.
Tennis creates all sorts of relationships between people, whether that is friends, coaches or family. The sport gives us all an opportunity to bond and develop friendships, allowing us to create relationships, which could last for a lifetime. There are plenty of opportunities for players to develop bonds through tournaments, tennis teams, tennis lessons and many more. These bonds then last for months, years, lifetimes it creates a sense of community and belonging to a particular group. Tennis allows people to develop relationships not just between different players but also between the player and the coach. A coach plays a huge part in a player’s life; they act as a mentor throughout the player’s tennis career. The relationship between the player and coach is a very important one as the players depends on the coach to advice and takes care of the player as they continue along their journey as a tennis player. The friendship can last for a lifetime and the coach no longer acts like a teacher but more like a friend.
The sport of tennis involves a tremendous amount of sacrifice by the player; the amount of dedication and commitment necessary to become successful requires a person to give up all sorts of things. The amount of free time for a player decreases significantly and tennis becomes a major priority of their life but Bjorn Borg once said, “As tennis players, we work and we sacrifice many things. To lose, that's not a happy thing - I mean sure, I was disappointed. You have to come back strong. But to win the last point in a grand slam tournament, that's the most beautiful and most satisfying feeling you can get as a tennis player. It's worth it”. Without any sacrifice there is no chance of making it, you have to be willing to sacrifice the time and effort to succeed in what you do. It is not just about the sacrifices that are made by the players but also the parents. The parents drive their children to and from their lessons, to and from their tournaments all around the country. It’s not an easy job for a parent to sacrifice their time, effort (and petrol) to drive their children all around but it also requires a lot of money. Tennis as a sport is not cheap, the cost for tennis lessons, racquets, clothes, strings, tournaments etc eventually add up to a very large number, but if you have parents who truly believe and encourage you to play (such as mine), it all pays off.
Tennis doesn’t just develop skills in a sporting environment but also in life. Through tennis, we have the opportunity to build character, develop confidence, cultivate sportsmanship, teamwork, foster tolerance and diversity; on and of the tennis court, I am able to promote peace and harmony between others and myself. The sport allows a person to develop a sense of self-confidence and to be more self-aware if their surroundings but most importantly the idea of keeping fit and healthy is developed. People become more aware about health, the need to stay fit and the importance of their body and fitness; tennis creates awareness within ourselves in all sorts of aspects not just in the present but also in the future,
In the past week, I have had the opportunity to explore the work that goes on behind the scenes of a tennis lesson. For the last nine years of playing tennis, not once did I imagine the amount of work that goes on behind the tennis court. For work experience, I was able to spend a week with Craig and Tricia Miller, where I was thoroughly debriefed about the different soft wares, the programming, the way things work and in addition to that I was able to coach little children at Elsternwick. Personally, it was a whole new experience for me, I was able to put myself in their shoes and experience the amount of thought and process behind the tennis lessons and IQ tennis as an enterprise. IQ tennis coaches in three locations, including St Kilda, Glen Huntly and East Bentleigh. The enterprise takes quite a lot of hard work to and over this past week I have been able to understand and experience the work necessary, it has given me the opportunity to appreciate the effort behind the business.
Tennis is and always will be my favourite sport; it gives me an opportunity to develop not just my physical but also my mental skills. It challenges me as a person and brings additional dimensions to my character. Tennis does have its disadvantages, but its advantages outweigh the disadvantages by a mile. Through tennis I have developed friendships and relationships which I will cherish my entire lifetime. Tennis has taught me valuable life lessons and skills that will not just come in handy for sport but life altogether. This sport is not just a way of expressing yourself as an individual but a way to make memories, learn and become skilled in the art that tennis is.