4 Comments

  1. Congrats on 7 years!

  2. Yes but ... for every story you have I have 20 about parents coaching during matches, bullying opponents, cursing other parents, whining to their section, complaining about "the system" instead of doing the things necessary to leverage the system, etc.

  3. Thank you for your column. It is wise, and this perspective is needed. I fall in the category of the live-and-let-live tennis parent. The examples you gave are all the sorts of things I probably wouldn't even notice, let alone critique. Sure, there are parents who behave badly -- just as some players behave badly. My son tells me that cheating (bad line calls) is common at the national level of junior play. It's unfortunate, but that is this sport: it relies on players' honesty. And it sometimes pays to be dishonest, unfortunately. My answer to this observation is that my son should just work hard to become good enough that an unfair point or two will not cost him a match. I tell him that I want him to continue to make fair line calls and to not retaliate or let something that is perceived to be unfair impact his attitude and mental game. It's tough. But most of us are invested in our children's tennis with our eyes wide open. We know they will have to work very hard and we'll have to spend a great deal for them to make it to college tennis - especially D1. And we know that the odds of our children going pro and making a decent living at it are extremely low. So why do we do this? My husband and I love seeing our son compete at a sport he loves. We love his wins. We mourn his losses, and we believe that playing a sport at an elite level has made him a better student and a better person. He has so little spare time that he finishes his homework efficiently. He has no interest in common high school vices because these things would be a distraction from his goals. Someday, we hope, the lessons he's learned on the tennis court will inform his decisions in the business/career world. So, yes, it's not difficult to have compassion for other tennis parents because we understand very well how challenging it can be to be one.

  4. David, I would like to offer an alternate perspective on your comment. If we all take a few moments to help educate those parents who are coaching, bullying, cursing, etc. maybe we can effect overall change bit by bit. When we hear a parent complaining, we can take them aside and give them some tools to help them better navigate the system. When we see coaching or bullying happening, we can approach the parent after the incident and have a conversation with them about a better way of interacting with their child and their child's opponent. Of course, I'm not Pollyanna, nor do I expect everyone to respond in a positive manner, but isn't it worth trying? Compassion isn't the easy way - it's much easier to judge and remove yourself from the situation. But when we engage in a positive way, parent to parent, sometimes we can make a real difference.

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