Sunday, September 25, 2011

Back on the team

I have been on the fence about rejoining my tennis team.

 Comfortable with George's clinic and weekly round robins, I asked myself whether the added pressure of being on an official team was worth it.

But I always wanted to get back on the team, and when Korby needed more official 3.5 players to create a team, a signed up.

Donna and me before our match.
I was always a 3.0, but in August 2007 when Korby and I won our match at the Districts, where the winning teams from the area compete, I was bumped up a level to 3.5. A few days later, I learned that I had relapsed, and I was back in the hospital before I ever played a match at the higher level.

Yesterday, Donna and I played my first 3.5 match.

I had butterflies the night before and talked to Ben, who reminded me that first of all it's only tennis.

Yes, we are playing for brownies and not big bucks, but when you've played league tennis for as long as I have, it takes on a life of its own.

Ben also reminded me that just getting to this point is a huge accomplishment. He said that maybe I couldn't see it that way because I was not in the room that night in 2009 at the family meeting when Dr. Alyea said there were 50 things wrong with me and I might not make it.

"I'm so proud that you are going to walk on the court again and play official USTA tennis," he said. "It doesn't matter if you lose, 6-0, 6-0.

When we got out on the court yesterday, that's what I thought was going to happen after we lost the first set 6-0.

The ball came faster and with more consistency, and my mind drifted off the court. "As soon as this is over, I'm going to get out of here and appeal my rating and get back on a 3.0 team where I belong. Bla, bla bla."

Our opponents were nice...and younger. One of them was tall with a long black ponytail and reminded me of my younger self.

In the second set, after we somehow won a game, I readjusted and thought, hey, maybe we could do OK. Donna reminded me to focus on the ball, not on the score or outcome, and to keep my feet moving.

I reminded myself to just get it over, giving them the chance to miss. It worked, and they made more unforced errors. My serve kicked in, and sometimes their return went into the net. That was a big confidence booster.

 When we won the second set 7-5, I was so in the zone that when I saw Donna smiling, I asked, "What just happened?"

It was incredibly hot and humid. "I'm sensing a fall in our energy level," Donna said. "We have to keep our feet moving." She was right. If you show that you're tired –which I was – they will take advantage of your body language. So I danced around (with effort!) a big contrast to when I could barely lift my feet off the ground two years ago.

The score was 2-1 us as we neared the two-hour mark when the match ends. If we won the next game, we won the match.

 3-1, us.

 Donna beamed and came towards me.

"Did we just win?" I asked.

But I knew the answer.

It was an incredible feeling, one that is still with me now.

Afterwards, we went upstairs for cheese and crackers, and I got a chance to catch up with other players whom I hadn't seen in years.

When I called Ben later, he said, "This is one of the top five stories in all my years of observing and covering sports, from little league to the pros."

Well, I wouldn't go that far.

But it feels great to be back in the fold.


Jim said...

Ben is right. If you lost 6-0, 6-0, it would still be a huge win. But what you accomplished yesterday is beyond amazing. Congratulations!

Joanna said...

I am so glad you are back on the team. I do agree the score is irrelevant, but not totally. Your brain was telling you that you couldn't do it, but then you got into the groove, and your true self came out. It is wonderful to see that you are fit and quick enough to win.

Congratulations, not just for winning, but for overcoming all the hurdles that you have overcome.

susiegb said...

Well done Ronni - that's a really great story!! Sitting here across the world, with a big smile on my face!

donna said...

You're right; league tennis does take on a life of its own. I'm going to ride this cloud nine for as long as I can! It was so fun and I'm so glad that you're back!!

Susan C said...

Totally inspiring! Congratulations, Ronnie on several amazing accomplishments.

Elayne said...

Ronni~ wonderful to hear that you are playing again, and on a team!
I can't wait to also get back out there and hopefully get to run more half and full marathons!
I am happy for you :)

Denise said...

Ronni, it's just amazing that you're back on your tennis team. I'm really happy to see how well you're doing. Also want to mention how great you look in the previous post with Tamar and your other friends. Looking at that photo it's hard to believe you were ever sick, let alone almost died. Hooray!

Ronni Gordon said...

Geez, Elayne, running marathons sounds like plenty to me. I don't think we run that far on the tennis court!

Diana Louise Carter said...

Omigosh, Ronni,
This is a major comeback in sports! Ben is absolutely right. Good for you.
Diana Carter