The start of August is known for evoking lots of feelings, mainly the anxiety of fleeting summer days as the start of a new school year is on the horizon. Fitting in final summer adventures, taking vacations, and school shopping all begin to reside at the top of the to-do list. Another thing that becomes a primary priority as calendars are flipped to the month of August is high school fall sports season.
I played varsity tennis all four years of high school. My involvement with the team and overall pure enjoyment of merely playing tennis was most certainly the highlight of my life in high school. A few years later, I still reflect fondly on all of the experiences that occurred, every once in a while, if something is brought up to remind me of those tennis times.
Here are 15 reminders for the high school girl who is still holding her tennis racket.
1. Practice, practice, practice
The more you do something, the more natural it will feel. Practice outside of scheduled team practice days and it will most certainly pay off.
2. Appreciate your supporters
In high school, it can sometimes feel embarrassing to have support from family members but trust me when I tell you that this support is incredibly valuable. Seeing your family members on the other side of the fence is motivational, and you are so lucky if they are choosing to spend their time witnessing your high school sports career.
3. Do what's best for your body
Only you know how are you feeling. Nobody can tell you when it's best to hydrate or eat (although they can kindly remind you). Ultimately though, prioritizing a healthy self-care routine is crucial to promoting your peak performance.
4. Wear the brightest court shoes
At no other time in your life will you elicit so many enthusiastic exclamations from bystanders about the appearance of your tennis shoes than during the days of high school sports.
5. Play each match with confidence
Even when your entire body is full of nerves and you don't feel confident, relax, take a deep breath, and remember what inspired you to even start playing tennis in the first place.
6. Celebrate all of your wins
Be proud of yourself for any achievement, no matter how small. lt feels good to accomplish goals. Yet, it's always imperative to remain humble when celebrating your wins.
7. Learn from all of your losses
Losing sucks. Why would anyone ever say that they "like" to lose? However, we learn more when we have to deal with challenges and the potential for a learning opportunity is multiplied when those challenges end up with results we wouldn't prefer (or sometimes even expect).
8. Support every single one of your teammates
Whether this is their first time playing tennis or they have been taking competitive lessons since they were five years old, everyone deserves positive reinforcement and respect for their choice to participate in the sport.
9. Hold yourself as if you are constantly being watched
You should do this because it is most likely true that somebody is always watching you. Your coaches and teammates are with you at every team event. Other coaches and tennis players from opposing teams are watching you during matches and tournaments. Family members and friends in your personal life or in the lives of your teammates see your reactions both on and off the court. Members of the school district and local newspaper writers are sometimes present at sporting events. Most importantly, young aspiring tennis players may be nearby watching you for an example. Thus, always ask yourself if you are comfortable with the way you are acting when it is known that any of these important people could be around.
10. Enjoy opening a fresh can of tennis balls
Because there's nothing as comforting as popping open a brand new can of tennis balls, breathing in their very distinct scent, and then bouncing them on your racket.
11. Maintain a relentlessly positive attitude
Emotional regulation can be a challenging aspect in all parts of life, especially while playing sports. It's perfectly okay to feel frustrated, angry, or upset but how you choose to handle those emotions is where the potential issue arises. Allowing your overly-negative emotions to impact your experiences not only leaves you feeling bad but your teammates too. If negative emotions do come up, then use that moment to practice acceptance of the adverse situation and find a learning opportunity to grow from it.
12. Take lots of pictures
Action shots, team feeds, bus selfies, awards banquets... take pictures of everything.
13. Always thank your coaches
Your coaches do a lot for the team because they too are passionate about the team and the sport. It can be really easy to get frustrated when things aren't going well in a match or with teammates, but remember that your coaches are there to help so try not to take your frustrations out on them. It's also super important to show gratitude for all that your coaches do for you personally and for the team as a whole in terms of time, wisdom, and support.
14. Realize that this is ~just~ high school tennis
This reminder may initially sound negative, but my intentions in saying this are totally positive. While I agree that putting your heart and soul into the sport is important, and I do recommend having a strong dedication, it is also very grounding to remember where you are and what you are doing. In other words, remain mindful of the fact that high school tennis can sometimes feel like it is your whole world right here and right now, but there is the entire rest of the world that continues to move on outside of this. Try to not get so invested in the celebrations and upsets that may arise from this chapter of your life because it may detract value from other opportunities that you are experiencing right now too.
15. Know that your high school tennis career will fly by faster than you will ever anticipate it to
On the days when going practice feels a lot more challenging than usual, matches are stressing you out, and the overall balance of high school life and tennis is overwhelming, remember that these days will soon be completely over and you might actually miss them.