I was behind. I had not picked up a racquet all summer, but college tennis was just around the corner. I was cleared a week before preseason. It had been almost three months since my severe concussion. I was scared and anxious for the start of the season.
My racquet felt awkward in my hand just dangling at times because I was not used to making contact with the ball. I would try to step up to hit a ball and completely miss since my timing was off. Then there were my feet. My feet twisted into a pretzel whenever I tried to move. Nothing was working. It took me weeks to learn to make contact with a tennis ball again on my serve. I felt like a five-year-old again learning how to play tennis for the first time.
The whole thing felt unreal. One stupid hit to the head made my whole world change. I had to pull myself together and focus on college tennis. I needed to get my game back to the best of my abilities for the sake of my team.
My game came back naturally, as if it had never left over time. I had to work hard and focus on getting to the ball faster than the last time. Over time I realized that my game had come back better than ever. I was able to push myself harder when it came to my serve. My serve has never gone over the net this fast before or with this much spin. Then my footwork was better. I was able to move my feet and get to the ball faster than before.
Collegiate tennis is a privilege. Not everyone is granted the opportunity to play tennis in college. I am so thankful for the opportunity.
I was able to improve my game mentally as well. My team worked with a mental toughness coach and I learned to step back and just focus on my game even when I get angry with myself. It was interesting to learn the madness that goes on through your brain during the course of a match. I always focus on the negatives rather than the positives during a match. This season I learned to let the negatives drift away in my mind which is not always easy. It is easy to get mad and lose focus on the game.
Preseason was hard since I was sore and not used to playing. I loved every minute of it. I got to know my team and play tennis every day all day. It was such a wonderful to start to the year.
My first collegiate tennis season was filled with wonderful memories that I will cherish forever. I am so thankful to have had a team that connects well with each other and share the love for the game of tennis. Being on a team helps the college transition be a little easier. You always have someone to go to lunch with and talk to whenever you need something. That means the world to me. I am so thankful to have had a wonderful season and look forward to the start of next season.