Blast from the Past
This past weekend, we had one of the Regional Segment tournaments in Atlanta. My son didn’t play, but one of his good friends from North Carolina did. And we invited him and his dad to stay with us.
My son met Danny (and I met Danny’s mom) about 3 years ago when they were both playing a tournament in Augusta. The boys hit it off right away and have stayed friends ever since. While they don’t get to see each other as often as they would like, they communicate daily and are a strong presence in each other’s lives.
I swear, having Danny and his dad, Steve, at our house made me feel like I had gone back in time to when I was playing tournaments as a kid! My family always had kids staying with us during tournaments, and my favorite events to play were the ones where I could go stay at a friend’s house instead of cramming into a hotel room with 4 or 5 other kids and parents. My son was so excited to have Danny staying here, especially since he could now, under Georgia driving laws, take Danny in his car and show him around town.
On Thursday night, after Danny arrived, the boys hung out and did schoolwork together (sadly for him, my son had to go to school the next morning!). On Friday afternoon, they hit for a while then started making the rounds to their Atlanta-based tennis buddies’ houses. After a nice dinner at home, they hit the road again, visiting with friends and doing whatever it is teenage boys do (and, no, I really don’t want to know the details here!). Early the next morning, they warmed up together for Danny’s first match, then my son hung out at the tournament site and watched his friends play. That night, it was more riding around and hanging out with tennis friends before settling back at home to sleep and prepare for the next day’s matches. Sunday was more of the same.
In between all that, Steve and I had lots of time to visit. We talked about Tennis Stuff – sure! – but we also talked about Life Stuff. We talked about the challenges of raising teenagers. We talked about the challenges of parenting in general. We talked about travel and food and marriage and Modern Family. It was really fun to get to know each other and to plan future weekends where our boys will be together and where we, as couples, can spend time together, too.
I know I’ve written about this a lot, but this is what junior tennis is about, and this is where our focus, as Tennis Parents, should be: on building relationships, on supporting friends, on having fun. Yes, it’s important for our kids to understand and do the hard work necessary to reach their tennis goals. Yes, it’s important to win matches. Yes, it’s important to eat healthy meals and snacks and to get enough sleep, especially during tournaments. But, it’s equally important to balance all those things and to – sometimes – let go and Just. Have. Fun.
You should see the amount of junk food that made its way into my pantry in just 3 days – chips, candy, sodas, packaged cookies, Krispy Kremes – I hardly ever buy that stuff! But, it was all part of what made the weekend special, what made it fun. And, no one is any worse for the wear. It was just 3 days, after all!
I hope we get lots more chances to have Danny and his parents stay with us for tournaments. Or to travel to Charlotte and stay with them. Or to plan the boys’ tournament schedules so they intersect somewhere fun like Hilton Head. This is one of my favorite parts of the journey!