Those who know me, know I couldn’t let the Wimbledon Championship Men’s Final match pass by in infamy without commenting on my favorite sport and player, Rafa Nadal.
I’ve been a tennis fan for over 30 years and I’ve watched and loved many players along the way. Rod Laver, Stephen Edberg, Boris Becker, Martina Navratilova, Andre Agassi, Pat Rafter, Monica Seles, Gustav Kurten and now Rafa. All have two things in common: never say die and lots of class.
I’m not sure what happened when I was a teenager that attracted me to the game. No one in my family or any of my friends played tennis. It wasn’t a sport offered at my school and the courts in my rural Oregon hometown were grown over with weeds and used primarily as a soccer field for truants.
I just remember one afternoon watching Rod Laver play Ken Rosewall and I became mesmerized by the athleticism, strength, strategy and intelligence it took to get that ball back and forth so quickly and still set up an unbelievable shot.
Little did I know that this particular meeting between Rod Laver (The Rocket) and Ken Rosewall (referred to as Muscles), would be an epic encounter – just like the one we witnessed this past Sunday. It was 1972 and part of the world championship tennis tour. I had happily stumbled upon the final which would later be deemed one of the most influential matches in tennis history. It was magic and I’ve been watching (and even sometimes playing) ever since. I love this game!
What does all this tennis talk have to do with anything? It has to do with what’s really important. It has to do with moving your body for the pure joy of it. It has to do with allowing yourself to be the best you can be and getting the most out of your life. And it doesn’t have to be as a professional tennis player.
At times in my life I’ve been hopelessly lethargic, unfit and unmotivated. And it was tennis that came to my rescue. Every summer there is was – the great motivator. Austrailia, France, England and the United States. It inspired me to get up off my duff.
It wasn’t about losing weight or getting a flat stomach, or ridding me of my flabby upper arms. It was about getting out on the court and playing a game I love. It was about being even the slightest bit like my idols – after all, look at the dedication and work they put into their sport. I could at least get fit enough to hit a few balls!
So whether it’s tennis, the summer Olympics or your son or daughter’s community soccer game. Let sport get you inspired. It can be the best reason you ever had to get in shape and start feeling good about yourself again. Let’s play ball!
And what about Rafa? Well, just like the greats before him, he never says die and he’s a class act all the way. Way to go, mama and papa Nadal for raising such a great kid.