Thank you, tennis…

Nothing like a little US Open Tennis and a cold drink on the couch to pass away the time on a hot summer night in Toronto. It’s the night session on TSN and Venus looks like she is poised to roll through the 1st round. I’m on the couch still thinking about all of the tennis I’ve played over the past couple of weeks -the matches that I won, those that I lost and those that I didn’t get a chance to play (I actually made the final of the C Consolation at the CGO, but had to withdraw). I believe I’m going to add to my trophy haul soon, once I take some time off to rest my knee (heavily strapped) and refocus for the Winter and look ahead to the North American Gay Games in 2011 in Vancouver.

Martina Navratilova was honoured among others tonight during the opening ceremonies and during her speech she made mention of all of the moments in her life where tennis was there to help her through some tough times in her career. It definitely stirred me up and got me thinking about my tennis over the years. Coming out in the 80s, leaving her communist country after much success in the sport and through her battle with cancer, tennis was there to help her through some tough times. I haven’t had 1/10 of the struggles of the tennis great, but tennis has seen me through some interesting times over the years.

  • Tennis was there for me to try when I decided that I was done with soccer. I played defense, 12 years strong, semi-forced into it because I did enjoy it, and also because my dad wanted me to play it to keep my weight in check as a child. I was a good player, fast, strong kick (I took all of the corners, free kicks), but I was not in control of the win and was always responsible for the loss. I liked the individual nature of tennis and the fact that no one else in my immediate family had any knowledge of the game, how it was played, etc. so I knew the choice to play would be mine and mine alone.
  • Nothing relaxed me more after working at IBM than heading to the courts at Blackmore Tennis Club and hitting serves for hours. Definitely reflect on many things; my parents divorce, coming out, my compulsive need to be perfect.
  • My current manager gave me an idea to get through my endurance training that I did to drop 30 before I turned 30 – listen to podcasts. Tennis was there to keep me on the treadmill (given the breakups I’ve also gone through recently, you could say I dropped more than 30 🙂 and when I knew that I was passed that, then I was free enough to play the type of tennis I wanted ).
  • I used two matches following a heartbreaking tournament in May where I had to withdraw from the final to beat two close friends of mine in succession during social matches. I’m over the incident now and recognize that experience from a few months ago is probably responsible for my current form today
  • Tennis has also brought me closer to the community – having successfully supported Phillpotts this year and now I’m personally investing in resurfacing Ramsden Park, home to many who have been part of TLGTA over the past 26 years

I’m looking forward to resuming court play very soon. A freak accident in San Francisco prior to Detroit could have derailed my tournament, but when all is said and done, my mind carried me through when I thought my body would crash and burn. I had just had a shower on the last night of being in San Francisco and as usual, I was thinking about being on the court. I closed my eyes and thought about how good it would be to take my racket back and hit indoors without the elements. I actually performed the shadow serve, naked, dripping wet in the bathroom and hit my right hand hard against the marble counter top. I know that at that moment that I cracked or bruised the bone and cried like Federer at the 09 Australian. Less about the pain, but more on how it would affect my play. Many of my friends had commented on my level of intensity during my matches – extreme focus, intense stares, methodical pacing in between points, all because I wanted to play my best regardless of any injuries. The best athletes do that, so why couldn’t I? Despite the losses, I’m happy. Here I sit, having played in back to back quarters for singles, semis in the doubles – after a flurry of first round defeats in 2010. I’m not worried, but you should be if we have to face each other on opposite sides of the net in the near future.

Happy playing.

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