The following post has been written by Sumit Satarkar, Nextenture’s Retail Solutions SME and resident tennis enthusiast.
For my whole life, I have only ever been interested in one sport: tennis. One of the biggest sports in the world, its millions of followers are now spread across all continents. But tennis wasn’t big in cricket-devoted India when I was growing up. I only have vague memories of watching Steffi Graf and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario on red clay on a grainy screen of my neighbor’s television from then. Otherwise, I would have to get my updates from newspapers, which sometimes shoved them to a tiny corner on the sports page. I had never even seen a tennis court in real life, much less played on one.
Somehow, and really, for no fathomable reasons, my love for the sport persisted until I came to the United States. Here, I eagerly followed the game: first through online streams, then on paid high-definition channels and finally at the tournament sites themselves. As I learned more and more about the sport, I realized that its unique nature draws some very interesting parallels to life.
Ever heard the phrase, “half begun is well done?” An “ace” is the best beginning you could have to your tennis game. One shot and you have won a point by making your opponent and their skill irrelevant. They never even got a chance to play. Every other shot depends on how your opponent played the ball. But the serve is the only shot where you have full control over what happens. And the ace is a perfect example of how you can win by simply mastering what’s under you control. If you become really good at what you can do, sometimes what you can’t is left irrelevant.
Tennis lives for the phrase “It’s not over, until it’s over.” If you are losing, every single point is your chance to come back. Because no matter what happened before, you and your opponent have the same chance of winning the next point. If you can let go of your past failures and work as if the next challenge is your first ever, you can come back from depths of despair.
On the flip side, tennis also forces you to learn how to let go of your success. Winning the first point or even first 50 points means nothing if you don’t win the last point. A 6-0 score in first quarter of a football game counts towards the end, but in tennis, that score means nothing after an initial set is over. You can’t accumulate your or let the clock run out. You have to keep playing till you win the last point. What’s the lesson here? We can’t let early success go to our head. Keep the end goal in sight and keep working towards it.
Tennis shows that there is no one way success. You can attack or you can defend. Hit hard or hit soft. Power the serve or thump a return. We all have our own strengths, weaknesses and personalities. So, it makes sense that what worked for someone successful may not work for us, even if they reached the top. It’s okay to choose our own path, take our own time and maybe take a winding road to success instead of running out of the last breath on a seemingly straight one.
Just like we have different roads, we have different home turfs. If you are Rafael Nadal, find your clay. If you are Roger Federer, find your grass. If you are Serena, well, you are all set. But realistically, we will never be good at everything we do. So, if you are analytical? Analyze everything, even art. If you are creative, be creative at Science or History. The important thing is you find what you are good at. And then?
And then, you fight your battles on that home turf.