The following is a Guest Post by Chanmeet Narang, a young man we’ve known for many years who is just finishing his junior tennis “career”. Enjoy!
Today marks the first day I’m ineligible to play in junior tennis and it hasn’t really hit me yet. 10 years went by like the snap of my fingers, I distinctly remember playing my brother Chris Yun in my first tournament ever, on the far left court at Laurel Park.
This past weekend I went back to play my last ever junior tournament, a small local tournament. I had been looking forward to it for weeks and I thought it would be a fitting end to my successful junior tennis career; not necessarily only successful in terms of wins and losses, but in terms of maturing as a person and creating friends for a lifetime as well.
Although I was fortunate that my grandparents and pops were able to come out and watch my last tournament, it wasn’t the same celebratory final experience that I had envisioned in my head for the last several weeks. Without all of the friends, coaches, players from my academy as well as others, the referees, and parents, also there as well, it wasn’t the same.
Tournaments can be held in remote towns like Rome and Macon; it’s the people there, the competitors and their families, along with the tennis, that make it special.
For me, tennis was not only a place for me to drill, compete, and win, but also to see my old friends and make new ones. Tennis is generally known more as more of an individual sport, but in junior tennis, the academy where you train, and the players with whom you train also serves as your “team” or “family”, even when you are playing against each other. The coaches can often serve as mentors, or parental figures. This sense of family can extend past the academy as well, to the many others competing with same goals and aspirations as you, especially after you see them week in and week out playing in the same tournaments. Competing with someone throughout junior tennis is similar to the experience of going to the same elementary, middle and highschool as someone. Although there may be some differences, people from all different backgrounds and personalities are brought together through the single conduit of tennis. These tournaments create friendships that spread across the entire nation, even other countries. Each player I met or competed against, also served as a branch to meet many others as well.
Basically there is a junior tennis family that extends across the nation, and this is what I’m going to miss most.
Graduating from junior tennis is similar to graduating high school, with one difference. There is no organized final goodbye. Players age in and out based on their own birthday and there are no “reunions” to go back to. Everyone that you competed with gradually leaves, and if you do go back to the tournaments, there will be a completely new batch of young athletes enjoying the ride junior tennis take you on.
I want to thank my coaches who took me under their wing, when I wasn’t always the easiest player to coach, from my first in John William Irvin and Coach Jim at HotShotz, to Ryan Brandt and the others at TAG, to my second dad Sanjay Jayaram and all the other coaches at RCS, to Stephen Diaz Rios who took me in my senior year and the other coaches at SDTA as well. Thank you for mentoring me throughout my teenage years, you had an unmeasurable positive effect on my development into a young adult. I want to thank my pops Preetinder Singh for accompanying me to almost EVERY single match. I also want to thank my mama Inderpreet Kour for spending countless hours on her driving us to and from practice and waiting, so my brother and I could practice.
Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
For the last 12 years my life has revolved around junior tennis, and it did go by really fast, but I don’t think I missed it. Junior tennis and many sports in general, are microcosms of life. You learn how to problem solve independently, how to go ask for help when you need it, how to fight through adversity, among many other things you face in real life. Although this does mark the end of a great stretch that I would love to go back to, I believe this is also the beginning of something great, another inevitable move in the game of life that one must take in stride.
My junior tennis experience was one that I will often reminisce on; I will miss it immensely. I met some unbelievable people, and learned so much from the game itself. Junior tennis doesn’t mark the end of me competing in tennis; that was simply child’s play, now its time for the real game to start. #inLOVEwiththegame