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New Year, New Beginnings

The new year always brings with it new hopes, new expectations, new resolutions, and new chances.  The thought of wiping the slate clean, starting fresh, can be inspiring or it can be daunting.  If the previous year was filled with success and happiness, then there is the fear that the new year won’t live up to the past one.  If the previous year was filled with hardship and disappointment, there is the fear that those things will follow you into your future.

Every tennis match our kids play, though, is like wiping the slate clean.  Just because you beat somebody last time you played doesn’t mean you’re necessarily going to  beat them this time.  And vice versa.  It’s a great lesson for us to hammer home, especially at this time of year.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, my son struggled a bit in the 12s and 14s.  There was a group of boys who beat him on a regular basis, even though they seemed evenly-matched on paper.  It became sort of a mental thing against these guys – they had always won, they would win again today, and there was nothing my kid could do about it.

Fast-forward to the 16s . . . in each of the last 7 tournaments my son has played, he has beaten at least one boy he had routinely lost to in the younger age groups.  For whatever reason, moving into the 16s allowed my son to finally wipe his mental slate clean and win these previously un-won battles.

I can’t tell you, specifically, what happened.  Yes, he’s grown several inches in the past year, which has definitely helped in terms of his confidence on the court.  Yes, he changed coaches which has given him a new outlook and a broader skill set.  Yes, he seems more focused during his practices and more determined during his tournament matches which, of course, makes him a better competitor.

But, I have to assume that the other boys are experiencing similar changes, too.  So, why has the tide shifted?  Is the universe finally rewarding my son for all the hard work and all the missed social events?  Is the universe finally rewarding ME for all the time watching court-side?  (Just kidding . . . sort of . . .)

Who knows?  The thing is, though, that each match, each practice session, is an opportunity to start fresh with a clean slate and to re-write the ending to the story.  That’s a message that I hope my son carries with him every day.


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