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Twenty-five Broken Strings
“Adjustment in life is a difficult thing to do but it makes you successful”. A saying that I’ve heard almost a thousand times in my life but didn’t understand what it meant until today. ‘RING RING RING’. My alarm clock was screaming at me and my dad was screaming at my brother. A typical morning. Until I realized I had a tennis tournament finals today. It’s been 5 years of practice, hard work, dedication, patience, and the day was finally here. It was what I waited for, the finals. My first finals in a tennis tournament. I brushed my teeth and took a fast shower, I was so excited. My mom was making me breakfast and my dad was walking down the hall, yelling,”Coach Michael said he would come, he told you to exercise before you go”.
I jumped outside the door with full energy just like how a rabbit would jump when it saw a carrot. I took my older brother, Ketan, with me to a close by park. We raced for 20 minutes and of course, I won. While we were coming back he was grumpy, he kept on muttering,”You only won because you are taller. If I was your height I would be way faster than you”. “Ya ya, of course”, I replied. When we came back it was 10:00, my mom was in the praying room reading a book and my Dad was preparing my tennis back and drinks. We finally got into the car and drove off.
When we got to the tennis courts I got out of the car got my bag and walked towards the courts until I stopped. All I saw was six empty courts. Nobody was there. I stood there for 30 seconds until a breeze of wind punched me in the face. I finally ran back to my car and asked my dad, “Nana where is everybody, can you call them and check where they are”. My dad rushed to the car to get his phone and called. While he was talking I came back into the car all saddened. My brother took advantage of that and started laughing, “Haha, I told you that you were never gonna win. You’re not gonna win”. I got frustrated and punched him in the stomach hard, very hard. My dad came back, I asked him,”What happened? Did they say anything?”. Without answering he kept driving.
I sat there in the car in the backseat, almost about to cry. I closed my eyes for five minutes and thought about a big trophy in my hands until my brother woke me up. In a few minutes we reached to another tennis court and I saw people here. My dad got out of the car grabbed bag and told me that we went to the wrong tennis court but we came to the correct one now. He also said, “Play your best. Winning is your goal”. I paused for a second, understood what he said and ran off to the courts.
I came at the exact time of the match and the referee came in at tossed a coin. I won the toss and chose to serve. After an hour I ended up winning the first set, it was a close set a very close set. We got a break and we both sat down drank some water and took a bite out of a banana. Both of us were exhausted. I decided to introduce myself,” Hey, I’m Tarun”. “Hey”. he replied and went back to staring at his water bottle.”I decided to talk to him a bit more,”What’s your name? You're a good player”. “Thanks, I’m Aryan”, he replied and went back to staring at his water bottle. I talked a little more and he began to talk more comfortably.
We had time out where we go talk to our coach. I approached coach Michael, we did our normal handshake and he squatted down to my height and told me what to do, “Be more confident on your serve and serve to his backhand. Also, attack the net more, I want you to volley strong, don’t just hit from the baseline. Take more risks because you are winning, the pressure is on him to stay confident. He punched me lightly on my chest and said,”Good Luck lifted”. Whenever he said this it made me feel proud because Federer was my favorite player, my inspiration.
We both came back to the court, time for the second set. If I won this it would be over and I would take the trophy but if he won we would have to play one more set. First to win two sets wins. We walked up to each other shook hands and said good luck.
Aryan was going to serve first. He served to my forehand and slammed it back to his backhand, he sliced to the net and I hit a drop shot back, he ran and gave me a high shot, I overhit and the ball slammed to the ground and won that point. But, I heard a sound. A sound that came from the racket. A sound that I heard before. When I broke my racket. I looked at my racket’s strings and realized that my string had broke. At that second my confidence dropped like a thermometer in Antarctica. I paused completely for five seconds counted the strings that broke. I was worried, twenty-five broken strings. I called the referee and asked for a timeout.
I ran to my coach, I didn’t explain to him what happened because he was watching. He jogged to his car and grabbed his racket and gave it to me. He gave me some advice,”This is a different racket then the one that you had so it will take some time to adapt, but just play the way you were playing and it will be fine. I believe in you”.
Unfortunately, I lost the second set which forced the last and final set. I couldn’t adapt to the racket I missed easy shots. My shots were so weak, I realized how hard it was to adapt to a different racket. I was frustrated and mad.
The third set had begun, I was starting to play better, not as good in the first set but it was an improvement. We tied at 6-6 in the last set with forced a tiebreak, first to 7 points by two. We got a timeout in the tiebreaker. I met up with coach Michael he gave me some good advice again, “It is a tiebreaker, don’t take risks, play calm and only take risks when you need to.”
It was a tough match but finally, I won 13-11. I raised my hands, dropped to the ground and kissed the court. I felt proud. My parents, coach, and my brother were clapping. Both, Aryan and I walked to the net shook hands he patted me on the back and said,” Good game, well played”. I gave him a fist bump and said,”You're an amazing player. Hope to play you again. Good Luck”.
And both of us packed our bags and walked up to the trophies. My eyes were stunned, the trophy was shining like a lion’s mane. I gave my coach a fistbump and hugged my parents and held my trophy high and kissed it.
When we were driving back home, I held my broken racket in one hand and my trophy in the other and thinking about how hard it is adjusted to something different. I stared at both, the trophy and the racket for the entire drive, continuously comparing the number of broken strings the one trophy that I had. One trophy. Twenty-five broken strings.