Sunday, June 24, 2012

What happen to my Tennis Game?

The year after I turned twenty-six, I ballooned to 216 pounds and was suffering from extremely high blood pressure. I was suffering from perpetual mental health issues not much different than what I have been through the last six weeks.  I began playing tennis as a casual hobby to help me shed a few pounds. Within several months of picking up a racket, I lost 25 pounds, my blood pressure drastically reduced and it undeniably a contributing factor to improving my mental health. I played in leagues, clinics and took private lessons, sometimes playing on clay in 100 degrees Charlotte, NC weather.  Most importantly, I had fun playing tennis and had complete control of myself on the court.

When I returned to Ohio, all of my friends anticipated my return to the courts in Ohio. They all loved tennis and had been playing frequently while I Charlotte. When I returned to Ohio, it was on. We started a league and began playing matches regularly.  The league and the matches were fun, competitive and supplied some of the best exercise I've ever endured. At age 29, I worked myself up to playing 3 hour tennis matches. They were the equivalent of mini-marathons. Even though the matches were ultra competitive, I never had the impression that the outcome was important. The close points and improvement everyone made during these matches were more important that anything else.  Most important, it helped me reconnect with friends I lost contact with in Charlotte.

Over the past 6 weeks, my mental health has been declining. I've been prone to episodes on the court but this year, I have sunk to a new low. I've started bring emotional baggage with me on to the court. I constantly feel pressure like I am playing on the ATP tour and my livelihood depends on the outcome of the matches I play with friends. My head is never completely in a match, I am cursing at inappropriate times and being childish with my actions. The game the once made me healthy and happy as being another emotional barrier that I am fighting to overcome. It's frankly unacceptable for a thirty year old to act the way I have the last 6 weeks in a recreational setting.

Today I played a friendly match and found myself having a meltdown. I played nervous which has becoming a reoccurring theme. What used to make me a great player was being a relentless, now I play timid. The tennis court was once the one place I felt in control of situations.  After 4 seasons, the thought crossed my mind that maybe I need to step aside and take a few months off while I get healthy again. It would definitely be a hard decision to make because tennis has become such an important part my life and physical well-being. The next several weeks will bring about major changes in my life and I hope to be able to work through everything and move forward again. I hope that I can move on from this, and have fun on the tennis court again.

I understand that 30 year old man's recreational tennis games is not the most interesting topic for a public blog forum . Especially one that I have aspirations of reaching a broader audience. However, this blog has relevance in conjunction with the blog I posted yesterday and the line of writing I believe will dominate these writings until I am free of angst and depression once again. 

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