Tennis

May 29, 2012
By , Palatine, IL
One big happy family. That’s how every team is classified because of their unity. Their secret handshakes, nicknames, and inside jokes brings them closer to each other and strengthens their bond. From the outside, everyone seems so happy and so grateful to be in a team “where everyone feels like their sister.” Pasta parties would be discussed after every major game. Where would they eat? How were they going to celebrate their major victory against so-and-so school? Would it be possible to have a sleepover? The girls would nag these questions to their parents until they finally gave in and agreed to all of their requests.
Encouragement was the one of the most vital parts about in being in a team. Even if a game was lost, each and every person was regarded as a valuable player and was comforted right away. Anyways, almost all the games were won, so losing wasn’t a big deal. Sure there were a couple defeats here and there, but nothing major to deny them a place among the top ten teams within the state. A plethora of pictures would be taken after each game symbolizing their victory; they made sure they left their powerful mark on every school ground they had played on. Everyone got matching uniforms, matching sweaters, and they even went as far as even getting matching shoes. That was how committed they were to one another and the team itself as a whole.
There was absolutely no discrimination among the three teams. It didn’t matter if you were on varsity, junior varsity, or the freshman/sophomore team; everyone was treated equally and fairly because they operated as one big unit. You weren’t treated differently just because you were younger or less experienced than the other girls. No, they’d teach you how to play just as well as the rest of them. They’d keep pushing you to your full extent until you’ve finally mastered what they’d been trying to teach you; it was an all or nothing kind of mindset. They would let each other know if there was going to be a cancellation due to a rainy day or bad weather by pulling out their cell phones and clicking speed dial; the girls on the team would end up being your best friends for life.
As much as I hoped all of these things were true pertaining my tennis team, almost none of them related back to my own team. Sure, we cared about each other, but it was a fake kind of care; it was almost as if we were forced to be nice, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to play to our best abilities. We never outwardly fought because we were much more mature than that, but the tension could be easily sensed. Competition to beat the person that was one step ahead of us was a constant, everyday struggle. Every point was accounted for and lines were closely watched to see if the ball was in or out; if it was out by even the tiniest millimeter, an overwhelming relief swept through their bodies, assuring that they secured the point and that they’re that much closer to beating down their own teammate. Wasn’t being in a team supposed to be fun? Why must there be so much competition within a team rather than against other teams? My team was exerting too much time and energy into competing against one another rather than focusing their time to beat their opponents from other schools. They cared only for their personal benefit to get farther than others; they would do almost anything to be ranked number one.
An invisible line was drawn among the three teams. No one on the freshman/sophomore team dared to cross that line because they were too intimidated by the big, bad seniors who basically dominated. Their intimidating glares could be sensed from a mile away. They would constantly pick out faults the underclassmen had, whether it was their ability to play or as simple as their attitudes. Even when it came to choosing the big, athletic lockers in the locker rooms, the seniors and juniors always got to pick first because they got first priority. The coaches didn’t seem happy most of the time, either. It almost looked like they were frustrated with us for not following their every single demand on shot placement, or hand grips on the racket when hitting a smash or a slice. “It’s the same grip, I don’t understand what is so hard to understand,” they would drill into our minds until we were perfect.
Don’t get me wrong I loved my team. Well, at least the ones that weren’t freshman and thought they should be worshipped because they were on the junior varsity team in their first year of high school. Being on the tennis team made me realize how unrealistic the teams you saw on TV shows or movies are when compared to real life. On TV, they dramatize and exaggerate everything. It may be possible that some teams are actually like a family, but it’s a rare occasion to find one that functions like one. The experience I gained, though, will carry with me throughout my life because it’ll allow me to face extremely competitive people better.





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