What Am I Talking About?
My old man is a forever-optimist; he wouldn’t give up on one of his kids for anything. He loves a lofty idea, he’s a dreamer and a hard worker; he’s made me who I am. This morning he took me to the Westchester Airport at 4:30am so I could catch a flight to Lincoln, Nebraska where I’m going to spend the next month training with the men’s tennis team getting ready to restart my professional career. I’ve spent the last five months, since April 18th to be exact, teaching tennis at Sleepy Hollow Country Club in Scarborough, New York with the goal of making enough money to fund my playing career. Yesterday was my last day at work, enough money was made, new relationships were built, but I got the first flight out.
This morning dad and I barely spoke on the 30 minute trip to the airport; nothing needed to be said. We fuddled with the radio, but that’s just because there’s nothing good on at 4:30am. I felt alive again for the first time in months. This feels like my last chance to make my playing career happen. I’m not going back to teaching next summer, I’ve got enough money, I’ve got experience from playing and traveling last year to guide me this year; I can’t wait to get to work. We hugged and said goodbye at the airport drop off, “See you when you’re 450”, dad said. He means when my ranking is 450 ATP, right now I’m ranked 1909; forever an optimist like I said. Time to make tennis my career.
It’s so bright and loud up here at 6:45am with the reflection of the sun off the clouds and Pearl Jam blaring through my headphones. As soon as I got up this morning I felt the excitement and quick-fire energy that lets me know I’m doing the right thing by playing tennis; I don’t get this feeling from anything else. This is my search for fulfillment; this is me trying to make my dream happen. This is the feeling I need to be able to sustain and tap into when the weeks get long and slow and my feet and head get heavy. I don’t think it’s tennis that I love, or tennis that keeps me going; it’s this feeling of freedom and control. There is a lot on the line for me, at 24 years old, investing a ton of money into a professional sports career is not the smartest investment to build up for retirement, but it’s the best investment to build up who I am and who I will become.
I’ve worked years to get to this position and put in the time on court, in the gym and at a “real job” to be able to put myself here; now is my time. I’ve turned my hat forwards and backwards a million times since I’ve been on this flight, I’m ready to explode with happiness and ambition on the practice court this afternoon in Lincoln. I’m going back to a place I’m comfortable, with friends I love and coaches that want to help me; I did not see any of this coming when I chose to transfer to Nebraska three years ago. This moment right now is happiness to me; this is what I’m looking for. Sure a higher ranking will be great and is absolutely necessary, but I don’t have a certain goal in my mind that will make me feel like this forever. Being Top 100 will fade, the joy of winning is fleeting, but this feeling of challenging myself is stronger than any emotion I’ve felt besides the days my nieces and nephews were born. They changed my life. I want to keep this feeling alive in me; whatever jobs I do in life, I want to have this feeling. Maybe it’s impossible, but I am my father’s son, and optimism is something he taught me.