Before this past weekend’s local tournament even started, my son told me that I wasn’t “allowed” to post any pictures or status updates on Facebook about it. I asked him why. He told me, “Because it’s just a Georgia Level 4, Mom. It’s no big deal.” I, of course, respected his wishes. (He never said anything about keeping it off my blog!)
As I thought more about my son’s request, I realized just how far he has come tennis-wise and maturity-wise in the last year. He played this same tournament last Fall (except he played in the 16s instead of the 18s as he did this year). When he entered the tournament a year ago, he hadn’t won a single tournament since he was in the 10s . . . not a single one! And, last year, he won this tournament, just a few weeks after aging up from the 14s to the 16s, and it was a VERY BIG DEAL. He was so proud of that trophy, his first Champion trophy since he was 10 years old! It got a special place in his room where it would stand out among all the clutter on his shelves.
Now, a year later, he was feeling a little embarrassed by the fact that he was even playing a local Level 4 tournament, even though he was playing up in the 18s. All of his buddies were at the Bullfrog (Designated) tournament in North Carolina, but we had missed the entry deadline, so he was “stuck” playing a lower level event close to home.
Eight boys were signed up to play in the 18s of this local event with two of them seeded – neither of whom was my son. And, as luck would have it, my kid had to play the top seed in his first round match on Saturday. He figured if he got through that match, he had a very good chance to win the tournament. Both boys fought hard, playing some high-quality tennis. Several other players and parents stopped to watch them banging the ball, running down dropshots, and hitting amazing passing shots. I overheard two boys around my son’s age talking about my son and how good he was – I was beaming! [Remember, this was a local tournament and most of the area’s top players were at the Bullfrog.] My son wound up winning the match after almost 3 hours and came off the court very relieved to have gotten through to the next round. His next match was much easier, thankfully, and was over pretty quickly. It was time to go home and rest up for the next morning’s Final versus the 2 seed.
Right before my son was called on court for the Final, he caught me composing a tweet about having butterflies about his match. He said, “Really, Mom? You’re nervous about this match?” I smiled sheepishly and said, “Aren’t you?” “No,” he laughed, “it’s going to be fine. I’ve got this.” And he did. He won 6-0, 6-0 in about 40 minutes but didn’t seem all that excited about the victory. I wanted to take a picture of him receiving the trophy from the tournament director. He asked me not to. I insisted that he let me capture the moment so I could at least text it to my husband who was out of town – he relented. But, he again made me promise I wouldn’t post anything on Facebook or Twitter.
On the car ride home, I asked my son if he had called his coach to let him know the outcome of the weekend. He said no, that his coach didn’t care about a local level 4 tournament. I knew that wasn’t true, and I didn’t respond but simply held up my proverbial Magic Mirror in hopes that it would reflect the importance of this tournament victory back to him.
We talked about the weekend and about how efficiently my son had played. We talked about how the goal of the weekend was to earn ranking points in the 18s so he could improve his chances of getting into some of the higher-level events. We talked about the lessons he had learned in Waco and how he applied them in his matches this weekend. We talked about the fact that, but for the first match versus the 1 seed, my son had won his matches without dropping a single game. We talked about how the 2nd and 3rd matches combined took less time than the first set of his first-round match. We talked about how he dominated the final match and hit an ace to close it out. We talked about those boys from the day before who were in awe of his ability. We talked about how thrilled he had been just a year ago about winning this tournament and how he should take equal pride in this victory, especially since he had played up and still won.
I don’t know if any of it sunk in – only time will tell – but I’m hoping that my son was able to shift his view of his weekend accomplishment and feel good about the win. It wasn’t the fact that he won the tournament that was such a big deal but that he won in such a dominating fashion, taking care of business quickly, dealing with the pressure of being the better player, and closing out the matches while controlling the pace and style of play. These are all things he’s been working on, and his hard work paid off.
I hope my son looked hard at his reflection in my Magic Mirror and now realizes how far he’s come. Of course, he still has a lot of work to do to reach his goals, but it’s crucial that he take at least a few minutes to revel in the small victories and accomplishments so he has the motivation to keep pushing and moving forward. I’m very proud of the effort he put forth this past weekend. I hope my Magic Mirror helped him feel some of that same self-pride, too.