I never thought the day would come when I would actually write this post, because I’ve been hard at work on this goal for exactly one year now.
365 days ago, I competed in Iowa’s State tennis tournament. I saw the talent and the caliber of the girls there, and I was in awe at how good they were. As much as people overlook it, tennis is a tough sport, and these girls were true athletes. I was so far from competing with those top girls, and I totally knew it. I ended up getting 6th place in doubles and was dissatisfied with the results. It was then, on that day in Cedar Rapids, that I realized I needed to step it up if I wanted to see a change in my results senior year. I told my coach that I wanted to place in the top four next year. That goal was a total stretch, because prior to that, I hadn’t put in the time or training to get there. Plus, the top four doubles teams were so good. As crazy as it seemed, that was what I wanted.
In the past year, I have seen a better version of myself than I even knew was there. I pushed myself harder and further than I truly thought I was capable of. I woke up myself up at 5:00 a.m. to go workout or take lessons with my coaches, I spent hours on the court when it would’ve been so much easier to go do homework or hang out with friends, and I organized a heck ton of practice matches. The thing I’m most surprised about is the fact that nobody forced me to do any of these things; I just did them. The goal was always the same, though: STATE. The state tournament would be a great way to measure if the work I put in over the course of one year would actually pay off. As time passed and I realized how much I was getting done, I decided to make my goal a bit more ambitious: to win state. The biggest and best goals are supposed to scare you a little, right?! Well, that’s what I told myself.
I remember texting my lovely and wonderful doubles partner and dear friend, Anna, the night that our school’s football team won their fourth state championship in a row. It got me so much more fired up, seeing these guys make the their dream, a 4peat, come true, and I was even more determined to get after it on the tennis court. I wanted state that much more. And the thing is, I never wanted it for the media or the attention, because I am well aware that state tennis is at the bottom of the school, the community, and the average person’s radar. But I wanted this for me, for my doubles partner, and for all the coaches that helped me along the way for twelve years. While so many people were going about their normal business over the past year, I pushed myself to get in one more day, one more hour of practice. I honestly surprised myself with what I was willing to do to make my dream come true. I guess I just decided to work hard, and something deep within me decided to listen.
Fast forward to today. June 2, 2017. Anna and I made it to the semi-finals, AKA: the top four. We made it to the top four!!! My original goal became our reality. Step one, check. I was elated to get that far—holy cow, I was so excited. But I knew the true challenge was waiting ahead and that we had a lot of work left to do.
So we go out and played the semi final match. Honestly, I don’t remember much of it. I remember little blurbs, like the fact we had a legit student section, the fact we lost the first set, the fact we came back and won the second set, the fact I have never sweat more in my entire life, the fact I’ve never had so much fun playing such quality tennis with Anna, and the fact that all that we had going for us and all that we worked for was taken away by a truly unfair line call to end the third set on match point.
Emotions felt on June 2, 2017: hope, excitement, anxiety, pride, humility, joy, love, respect, anger, heartbreak, fatigue—all amplified to an extreme. The dream that I had climbed towards for so long was no longer even an option—the semi final match was over, and we lost. Had we just lost the match ourselves and totally blown our opportunity—fine, whatever. As pissed as I would’ve been, I could’ve lived with that. But to have it end like that? To have my dream shattered like that?
Anna and I ended up getting third place at the state tournament. We exceeded my original goal, and I’m very proud of that. I’m proud that I’m able to call such a loyal, hardworking, talented girl my partner. I’m proud that we got back up and gave the next match all we had. I’m proud that we take these things, these sometimes unfair things, and learn from them. I’m proud that we always give it all we’ve got, that we always give it our whole heart. I’m proud that at the end of the day, I know my partner and I are on the same page: sportsmanship above success, and God above all else. I’m so proud of her, and I’m so proud of how far we came together. I couldn’t have done this alone, and neither could she.
Moral of the story: working hard will get you places. It really will. Sometimes things don’t go your way, and that’s life. That just means it’s time to set a new goal and work, work, work until you get there. I’m forever grateful for the doubles season I shared with this amazing woman. Anna: thanks for inspiring to be better everyday. You are a champion in my mind, and you always will be. To all the people that came to support us: thank you, thank you, thank you. This meant the world to both Anna and me. Your cheers and hugs and smiles were everything, and I won’t forget it anytime soon.
Next up on the to-do list: take home the team state title tomorrow. There’s still work to be done this year. xx