Life Lessons from My Love Affair with Tennis — 1

Tennis and I go back a long way, ever since I was a little kid, and my Dad first taught me how to play.  Make no mistake; I was never a good enough to play the grand slams, but I love the game and owe it so much!

As a sophomore I was the number one player on our East Orange High School tennis team.  I posted a 2-13 record that year.

The first of the “2” occurred when the number one player from our cross town rival Clifford Scott, Henry Paillard, was not playing, and I got a win over their not-as-strong number 2, Bob Lawrie.

My second win, though, was huge!  We played each of our conference rivals twice.  In our first meeting at West Orange, I did not only lose; I received a 6-0, 6-1 drubbing from Jay Saunders.  Maybe Jay took me for granted when they came to our courts a couple of weeks later, but I earned a 6-4, 6-4 win. I was so proud!

I was EO’s number one for three years, and in those three years I lost to Kearny’s Cal Trevenen six straight times.  In those six matches I won only one set, the first set of the first match we played when we were sophomores.

At Hamilton College I became a better player earning a 50-3 record in three years on the varsity and winning a couple of NCAA, college division, regional tournaments and being the finalist in another.

My breakthrough came freshman year.

In those days freshmen were not allowed to play varsity, and I was the number one player on our freshman team.  Who should walk out on the court as my opponent for our opening match against Colgate – at Colgate, no less – but Kearny’s Cal Trevenen!  But this time I did something I honestly thought I couldn’t do and grabbed a straight set victory.  I defeated Cal again when Colgate came to Hamilton.

I reached out to Cal about two years ago (he is a successful attorney in Montclair, NJ), and though he was very gracious, he really didn’t even remember who I was. I can never forget him, though, for helping teach me one of life’s most important lessons:

Yesterday is gone.  It doesn’t matter anymore.

Do the best you can right now, and who knows what good things can happen?