Sports Parenting

From Generation to Generation

My favorite part of the bar or bat mitzvah service is when the Torah is handed from grandparent to parent to child, signifying the passing down of religious tradition from generation to generation.  The Hebrew name for this ritual is l’dor v’dor.

In our family, tennis is one of those traditions that has been passed down from generation to generation, beginning with my dad who played for Tulane in the late 50s.  My brothers and I all grew up playing tennis, too, at our neighborhood tennis club.  My middle brother, Gary, and I did the junior tennis thing until high school.  My youngest brother, Jeffrey, ended up playing at Washington University.  And, now, my son plays, and has developed quite a nice little rivalry with his Uncle Jeffrey.  Much to my son’s chagrin, Jeffrey always wins.

My parents and Jeffrey and his wife spent Thanksgiving with us this year.  Of course, Jeffrey brought his tennis gear.  Of course, he and my son took to the courts.  This time, though, my son won.  For the first time.  Ever.

And my dad and I were court-side to watch.  My dad predicted that this was going to be the day that my son won and his son lost.  I wasn’t so sure.  My brother is a grinder.  So is my son.  The points were long and tough.  But, my son beat my dad’s son.

The next day, my dad and brother went to watch my son play a practice match.  He got lots of kudos from his grandfather and uncle that afternoon.  My son asked their opinion.  They gave it.  Over the course of the weekend, the three guys continued to talk tennis.  They talked about playing in college.  About work ethic.  About nagging injuries.  About love of the game.

Before my parents left for the airport on Sunday, my dad had one last opportunity to talk to my son.  My dad told my son that he needs to have fun out there, that the winning will come.  He gave my son a game-plan for reaching his goal of playing college tennis then turning pro.  He told my son that he will play D1 tennis.  He told my son that he believes in him 100%.

L’dor v’dor, from generation to generation.

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