Tennis Industry magazine

 

Your Serve: Finding My Tennis ‘Angel’

A tennis pro’s unwavering support on and off the court helps a high school player make the cut in life.

By Annie Beier

If you’ve heard the name of my tennis pro, it’s probably because he and his brother set a tennis world record. But that’s not how I think of him. To me, he’s a person who has influenced my life in so many significant ways.

He’s helped me through hard times. He’s inspired me to never give up. He’s made a larger impact on my life than anyone else in my tennis career. I know he cares about more than just my tennis; he cares about me as a person. And I can’t thank him enough for everything he’s done for me.

Five minutes after meeting him, I knew he was going to be the best pro I’d ever have. He was happy, enthusiastic, kind, honest, helpful and caring — and a wonderful instructor. His teaching style was perfect for me. After a couple of lessons, my mom booked a weekly lesson with him for the year.

I would always look forward to my time working with him and improving my game. I played tennis a lot throughout the week, but my favorite time was always his lesson. He always knew how to fix any problem I was having, and I could see myself improving.

As the year continued, I started to get nervous about my high school tennis team tryouts in the spring. Only 14 girls would make the team, and I was up against tough competition. It was all I could think about. I’m a pretty analytical person, and every way I looked at it, I just couldn’t see myself making the cut. I had been playing tennis ever since I could remember, and loved everything about the sport. And I was nervous beyond belief.

Then, disaster. We had a bad winter storm, and the roof of the indoor tennis club I played at collapsed under the snow. Thankfully no one was in the club at the time, but we all scrambled to find new indoor places to play.

While trying out a new clinic, the new pro kept telling me I wasn’t hitting the ball correctly and would need to change my strokes. I barely made it through the session without bursting into tears. Tryouts were in a few weeks, and I knew I’d never be able to change by then. I was so upset and depressed that I just didn’t want to play tennis anymore.

I was scheduled to have my lesson with my regular coach the next day, and I just didn’t want to go. I wanted to be done with it all. But I reluctantly decided I couldn’t give up now. Maybe he’d have a quick fix for me.

And as soon as I saw him, I knew he’d be able to make me feel better. After only an hour on the court with him, I was no longer discouraged and found new confidence. He told me to go home and write 100 times, “I will make the high school team,” and to also write a press release about tryout results with me making the team. “You have to believe you can do it,” he told me. I did what he said, although inside, I still had doubts. I met with him the next week, a week before tryouts, and he told me again to believe in myself, that I could do it.

And you know, he was right — I could do it. That Friday, I found out I had made the team. I was so excited that all of the hard work had paid off.

When I called my coach that night, he was as excited and as emotional as I was. He kept telling me how good of a job I did. The fact that me making my high school team was so important to him is what makes him such an important person to me. I cried as we spoke on the phone, because he has had such a huge impact on my life.

A few weeks later, I saw a blog he had written. Without using my name, it was about my experience. He had a photo of the “I will make the high school team” lines I wrote out. He wrote what it meant to him as a pro to be able to help me through this life-changing experience. This most amazing pro just got even better.

I continued playing my best tennis, motivated by his kind words and support. I had a great first season as a freshman, made wonderful new friends, and have never forgotten how I got to where I now am. He gets so much credit for the player — for the person — I’ve become that I can’t thank him enough. Anyone who has an “angel” as great as mine in his life is a truly lucky person.

Annie Beier is now a sophomore at Brown University studying biomedical engineering and a recreational tennis player. She played four seasons on her high school team, highlighted by reaching the semifinals of the state doubles tournament.

We welcome your opinions. Please email comments to info@tennisindustrymag.com.

 

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