What Got You Hooked On Tennis As A Kid?

Discussion in 'Odds & Ends' started by max, Mar 7, 2013.

  1. max

    max Hall of Fame

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    I'm curious how you got into tennis, and what really made it go for you as a sport.

    In my case, I liked hitting the ball with the racquet. It was a good feel. It was also a challenge to put the ball across the net and into the other court.
     
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  2. BHiC

    BHiC Rookie

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    My dad is a decent 4.0 player and I always watched him play when I was little. I wanted to play tennis just like him, and at 6 I took my first lesson. From then on I have loved the sport. Another reason why I played tennis is that I wasn't exceptionally quick or athletic as a kid, but I was a good ball striker and had good hands at the net.

    I quit tennis for about 4 months to play basketball when I was 9 (my parents were big believers in 1 sport at a time), but once spring came back around I just had to pick up a tennis racquet again. From then on it has been all tennis and to this day I can't think of much I would prefer to do than practice. Now if I could just figure out how to enjoy competing I would be in business!:)
     
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  3. slowfox

    slowfox Professional

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    Not sure, but my friends were all playing... good times :)
     
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  4. JRstriker12

    JRstriker12 Hall of Fame

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    Hitting against my dad under the lights at night. Loved it. I wanted to just rally all night.
     
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  5. Fyrepower

    Fyrepower New User

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    I started because my mom said that i had to be in a sport when i was in the 7th grade and i have never looked back.
     
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  6. nyc

    nyc Hall of Fame

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    Watching my dad play on these awesome clay courts that had the same courts as Roland Garros, and playing with him when I was 6,7...and hours of hitting the wall, waiting for him to finish so we can hit.

    If I close my eyes, I can still smell the wet red clay / the locker room combo in that club.

    That's still the best Tennis memory for me.

    And beating him when I was 15. :)
     
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  7. VaththalKuzhambu

    VaththalKuzhambu Rookie

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    Have a sob story behind me getting into tennis. I grew up in a location where tennis facilities were affordable / reserved / restricted to the upper echelons of society. I would walk past the court almost everyday and watch bald, obese, 40-something and 50-something men struggle to keep the ball in the court despite the 10-foot fence on all 4 sides. I have even been asked to pick up balls from the road and return them to court several times. At that time I longed to set foot into the court and feel the clay surface and even hold and feel a racquet.

    Never got the chance until the age of 23, having moved to the US, when my then-girlfriend, current-wife dragged me to the court one summer evening out of boredom. A couple of Walmart Wilson racquets and a few used balls scoured out of the woods behind the courts is what I started out with. Two weeks later I came across a 110 sq. in, 3-grip-sizes larger racquet at TJ Maxx's, of all the places. Played with that racquet for a year until someone I met at a pick-up-courts explained to me that racquets come in different head and grip sizes.

    In the last 10 years since then, my wife has wished several times that she had not dragged me to the court that fateful evening. :)
     
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  8. forzamilan90

    forzamilan90 Legend

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    Federer vs Hewitt. Bad tv quality can't remember where but i thought guy with ponytail is bad ass
     
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  9. TahoeTennis

    TahoeTennis Professional

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    2 of my best friends picked it up in the late 80's. By 89 we were all about Rock N Roll Tennis.
    So in one word:

    Andre


    After picking up a racquet and playing with my friends, i was hooked for life.

    [​IMG]
     
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  10. Dedans Penthouse

    Dedans Penthouse Hall of Fame

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    ^^^
    THAT is a winning volley of a post - nice share!
     
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  11. JRstriker12

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    LOL! (10 char)
     
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  12. fps

    fps Legend

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    Funnily enough I wasn't a kid. I wish I had been though. I played socially with friends in doubles and one time I nailed a serve, which I'd never done before, and it was the best feeling. I had to get that feeling back!
     
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  13. The Meat

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    A combination of this man right before he retired
    [​IMG]

    and this epic match
    [​IMG]

    Edit: copied wrong url, but don't get me wrong Edberg is in my top 3.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2013
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  14. Chivo

    Chivo New User

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    My dad married a tennis pro.

    Tennis pro stepmom = free lessons!!
     
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  15. Oz_Rocket

    Oz_Rocket Semi-Pro

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    We had a tennis court next door and three doors down that my mum played social tennis on when I was a kid. So at the age of 4 or 5 she let me hit with her wooden Dunlop racquet. Was never a natural athlete but had great hand/eye coordination so I stayed with tennis.
     
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  16. thejackal

    thejackal Hall of Fame

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    when I was 5 my dad went to play at an indoor club in my hometown with a few of his university friends. he brought me along because my mom was busy so he just had me sit on the bench and watch them for two hours. I kept bugging him to let me play but he never did. didn't actually touch a racquet until my early teens, when I got into it after watching epic matches at the US Open (el aynaoui vs moya & pete vs andre in 2002) and Wimbledon (Federer's finals in 03 and 04)

    funny enough, I ended up becoming friends with a girl from my hometown who is roughly my age and became a WTA pro (she's around #130 in singles and #35 in doubles). we talked once about how she got started (dad was a pro soccer player, mom was a pro volleyball player, she was kind of forced into playing tennis when she was 4 or 5) and my missed connection with the game. turned out she's a bit jealous that I had a normal life - school, friends, job, etc. while I'm obviously very envious that she gets to travel the world and play tennis for a living. guess that's life.
     
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  17. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Yeah, most tennis kids, even if successful in tennis, are intriqued by someone who plays tennis for fun, and does other sports for fun also.
    They are pressured to play tennis. They see the other side too.
     
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  18. Overdrive

    Overdrive Legend

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    When I was 13, I told my friend in tennis: "I'm joining tennis so I can beat you".

    After school, I grabbed a racquet my current-coach's "club" of a racquet and played with him. We only played three games and I lost 0-3. :)

    A year later, I beat him to be the #2 player on the team. I quickly developed more than other players due to intense workout and practicing for hours with other coaches and pros. I even won a few singles tournaments too! :D
     
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  19. Relinquis

    Relinquis Hall of Fame

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    As all children did where i grew up i played a lot of football (the foot kind)... ever since i can remember really. playing the neighbourhood, school, etc... and as a young child played table tennis daily with my brothers and friends. sometimes i played against the adults in my family for snacks as prizes, but mostly we competed for pride. I was hooked on competing.

    pestered my parents into signing me up for group tennis (not the table kind) lessons at the national academy one summer. first time i noticed that there were kids that could hit harder than me. was quite the hit to my ego, so i swung harder! the problem was there was no competition. just drills. we didn't play sets, on a few points occasionally and lots and lots of drills. I wanted to compete*.

    I remember agruing with my friends about grips. continental vs. eastern. having one grip vs. changing for each stroke. hitting closed face vs. flat... my racquet felt so heavy.

    used to play with my cousins and friends at a club my uncle was a member of. that was more fun, competing. i remember having a buggywhip forehand when on the run** (some strange amalgam of my football and table tennis habits); i remember people trying to coach me out of it, telling me to stop and set up and to swing across to my shoulder not above my head, but the ball seemed to keep me in points so i stubbornly stuck with it.

    but that was defense, i was mostly an attacking player. i used to take everything on the rise until i got to the net. wanted to end every point with a smash, sampras style. i remember the nerves when girls were watching us play. i remember how cold the pool was when we'd jump in after practice and i remember the end of day barbecues.

    fast forward to my 30s... most of the friends i used to play with are busy child rearing. i still go to the courts to hit, practice and play whomever. i still swing all out. still take the ball on the rise, still have that buggywhip forehand when on the run. still love to compete. still stubborn about how i play tennis.



    * I had no idea that there were tournaments for children, or teens. i thought only adults played those.
    ** My regular forehand was very flat and was either a winner or in the back fence.
     
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  20. Seth

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    I was attending a week-long summer camp that required campers to attend two "tracks" during the week. These tracks consisted of sports, music, crafts, and so on. My best friend saw a pretty girl sign up for tennis, so he asked me to sign up for tennis with him as his "wingman" of sorts.

    While he tried (fruitlessly) to flirt with the girl, I began learning the fundamentals of the game. As soon as I returned home, I went to Walmart and bought a Wilson Mach 3.

    12 years later, I'm absolutely obsessed with the sport.
     
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  21. Sentinel

    Sentinel Talk Tennis Guru

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    Mac The Mouth is squarely to blame :D

    My school (in India) had tennis courts and my parents sealed the deal by getting me a wooden racket. Later they got me a Wilson T-2000 and got me to play on grass at a club with some rich friends of theirs who were members. My dad dropped me there everyday to ensure I played. They also made me watch Wimbledon on tv every year with the bribe of hotdogs and mustard.
     
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  22. Big_Dangerous

    Big_Dangerous Legend

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    No ketchup?
     
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  23. The Meat

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    Mustard actually tastes better alone, it's spicy and has the kick that really enhances the flavor from a smoked dog. Ketchup should be used in moderation, too sweet imo.
     
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  24. axel89

    axel89 Banned

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    I've never seen someone sell hot dogs in india are you from the north?
     
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  25. gavna

    gavna Hall of Fame

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    Good God......what is it with Texans and putting freaking Ketchup on HotDogs??????:shock:

    Jeez my wife (yes a Native Texan) and my idiot kids do it? Yuck!:)

    HotDogs = Mustard (Sauerkraut in NYC, all kids of crap in Chicago)
     
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  26. gavna

    gavna Hall of Fame

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    I got involved due to family history......my maternal grandfather played pro tennis after WWI and thru out the 1920's - played all the big events - RG, Monte Carlo, Wimby......tournaments in Spain, Canada. My family (his sister) then much later owned the TENNIS QUICK company that is a tennis court surface product (still in existence) that we owned for quite a few years. Our family also owned a construction firm, a Hotel and restaurants and TENNIS QUICK as it expanded in the 60s and 70s we were always around tennis courts and pros. Tennis Quick still going strong and found all over Europe, The Caribe (part of my family settled in Guadeloupe and set up a construction company there and in St Martin/St Maarten where my cousin owns some jewelry stores - yes so if any of you ever get to St Martin/ St Maarten or Guadeloupe check out Carat Jewelers and by yourself a Rolex or Breitling and your wife/girlfriend a diamond and say hi to Rene!)

    My grandfather started teaching me to play in the mid 60s when I was 5 and we were lucky to go to all the major tennis events........every year we hit Wimby, RG, USO, Newport, Houston......he still played in Sr events as well until he was almost 90.
    When the family immigrated from Europe to NY my parents settled in Forest Hills and along with being 6 blocks from Westside I was sent to play at Port Washington Tennis when I was 10 as did my brothers - led to Jr tennis here, ITF events overseas and finally college tennis. After 2 tough yrs trying the tour found a great job with the WCT and then some coaching players and at a US D1 school - some work with the ATP and finally a few years working at the FFT in France before finally moving back to the states.
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2013
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  27. Sentinel

    Sentinel Talk Tennis Guru

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    Yep, North, folks used to buy the long buns, and the frankfurters or whatever they are called, boil or fry them, and serve them with some very very sharp mustard called Weikfield (a powder that you have to mix water with). This only happened for Wimbly which was the only tennis to be shown in the 70;s when there was only one channel on telly. So often the end of the final match was interrupted by the 9:45 pm news and we had to wait 20 minutes for the sports portion to hear who won the match :(


    ^^ We weren't much into ketchup.

    edit: gavna - that was a very interesting story, beats my hotdog story :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2013
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  28. max

    max Hall of Fame

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    Good Lord! Why would you put ketchup on a hotdog??? It's clearly a mustard situation. Where do you live?
     
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  29. Angle Queen

    Angle Queen Professional

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    Fair Warning: Long story...but one that brought back some very, very good memories.

    I've been through four stages of getting hooked. Oddly enough, three of those centered around or were influenced by class or race/gender issues.

    As a toddler, my mama and some of her similarly-situated, dirt-poor friends would trek down to the local park's sole tennis court and bat the ball around whilst us kiddies attempted to entertain ourselves. IF one of us would/could successfully find a tree to fertilize (rather than wet ourselves :oops: )...they would let us use their ratty wood rackets. Talk about an incentive to become potty-trained. Odd reward system...but it was my first exposure to the game and it certainly was a treat. Still is! But in the 60s, "real" tennis was the purview of the very rich and completely outside my family's world. The fact that my (generally speaking) un-athletic mother bothered is somewhat of a mystery to me...except that it ultimately was a cheap way to pass some time doing something outdoors that exhausted the kids! The rackets were surely second (or third or fourth) hand, the balls scoured from the woods and used many times over, and the public courts...in sad, sad condition.

    Then, as a tween, my father and I would sit glued to the TV on Saturdays for whatever "sports" one of the Big Three Networks would favor us with coverage. Fortunately for us, that was another (prior) Golden Era for tennis: Ashe/Borg/Connors/McEnroe and King/Evert/Navratilova. It had everything: class, crass, barbies and butches. S&V, two-handed BHs, woodies and "metal" rackets. White and yellow balls. While I think we're also in another "Golden Era" (at least on the mens side with Fed/Rafa/Djoke/Murray), it simply cannot compete with all that was going on in the 70s. And, as a female native-Richmonder, I cannot even begin to acknowledge the contributions of Ashe competing on the world's greatest courts and the whole Virginia Slims/King v Riggs stuff.

    During the summer when I was a rising HS-junior, I got a stray phone call from a woman specifically hired to "start" a tennis program at a traditionally black HS. She'd apparently asked each of the PE teachers who could "hit the ball over the net AND keep it in the court" and my name had been served up. I'd already interviewed for and been offered a small after-school job at a department store in the "cool" local mall. After a very long dinnertime conversation with my parents...during which my father relayed his own personal HS/job/athletics conflict...we all agreed that I should "try out" for the team. What we didn't know was that there weren't any tryouts; anyone who survived the 95F workouts on asphalt (yes, not even concrete) courts...was "in." Our country-club coach ran our a$$es off for a solid week before we even touched a racket or hit a ball. Then we worked on our "toss" for days before ever serving the ball. And the thing she told us before our first match was that we were going to learn how to lose, because we were going to lose a lot.

    And we did, lose a lot...but we won way more than people expected us to. We were fit, had reliable serves and were gracious in losing...and winning. To this day, I am still tennis-fit, have a reliable serve (same damn toss!) and hope my opponents consider me gracious regardless of the scoreline. Hooked, hooked, hooked.

    Took some time off during college, early career and intense "dating" (that "netted" me my dearest)...but finally picked it back up in my 30s. After age-ing out in some very organized volleyball (more my teammates than me), my intended said....you've gotta find something competitive. Found a small, county-sponsored league (that they, sadly, run no more), I got the bug again. Ten years later...and I haven't looked back. Sometimes, much to the chagrin of said dearest.

    Tennis is my fitness regime, therapy session and has provided two of my very best adult-acquired friends. It is a lifetime sport, one I can play with my own very young children and my neighbor's visiting 75+ yr old mother. I find enjoyment of it at so many levels. Sure, some of the USTA and formal league crap can be just that...crap. But the bottomline for me is...it'll be something I can take to my grave. And I hope my family is smart enough...to bury me with a racquet and a fresh can of balls. Not sure if I'll be playing with St. Peter or the Devil but...eh...first ball in, guys, ok?
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2013
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  30. Overdrive

    Overdrive Legend

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    What an entertaining story.. I just got back from a tournament that was canceled due to weather conditions so... :cry:

    Then, I checked my e-mails for any deals on my racquets for sale and just only two offers... Low balls too... :|

    Anyways, not really one of my best Fridays I've had..
     
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  31. max

    max Hall of Fame

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    Angle Queen: Good Story. I'm with you; my mom took us to the park district stuff she did: I think there must've been something stirring in the 60s with tennis. My first racquet, wood, was a very old garage sale "find"---i.e., pretty much crap. White balls; we kids would gather up the ones the women sailed over the fence.
     
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  32. Say Chi Sin Lo

    Say Chi Sin Lo Legend

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    Nothing, when Chinese parents want you to play tennis, then you play tennis.

    I did grow to love it though. :) I guess it's not so bad.
     
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  33. VaththalKuzhambu

    VaththalKuzhambu Rookie

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    Do you play the piano too? :)
     
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  34. thejackal

    thejackal Hall of Fame

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    mine got me into a swimming program when I was four. hated it so told them 'no' the second year. been easier to say no to them since then (hence my not becoming a med student)
     
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  35. coolblue123

    coolblue123 Hall of Fame

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    remembered getting my sat morning cartoons interrupted for the french and Wimbledon on NBC. then saw graf final. was instantly drawn in. win win for me.
     
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  36. Say Chi Sin Lo

    Say Chi Sin Lo Legend

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    No, we couldn't afford it, I learned tennis by going to those massive lessons. 1-2 instructors for 30-40 kids. Never had a private/personal coach. But now that I'm making some money, I DO want to learn the piano as I've grown to love classical music. I'm still young, but I figured athletic ability won't last forever, but stroking a key, I don't think that'll decline with age. :)

    I was on my way to get a Ph.D in cell biology but I said f*** it, I don't want to be 35 and still not be able to buy a house, not with post-doc(s) and all that nonsense. So I'm getting a MBA instead. :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2013
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  37. TennisYonex

    TennisYonex New User

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    Watching Sampras on tv ....
     
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  38. max

    max Hall of Fame

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  39. Steady Eddy

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    When I was very young a new Junior High was built near our house. For some reason, it came with two tennis courts. Nobody in our area knew how to play, so they were always available.

    Years later a friend and I decided to play all summer. We logged about 100 hours, which we thought was alot. We weren't very good, but at last we could sustain rallies, (and we learned that rallies weren't called "volleys").

    Nowadays I don't compete seriously, but I'm glad I learned to play so that I can get exercise doing something more fun that the treadmill.
     
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  40. goober

    goober Legend

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    I wish my parents told me to play tennis. They insisted I play piano-which I did not grow to love. My parents were anti-sports.
     
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  41. hollywood9826

    hollywood9826 Semi-Pro

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    Watched Pete and Goran growing up. Would go out with my buddy Mike and try to blast serves as hard as possible. They would eventually go in. I would blast forehands the same. They also started eventually going in. Backhands never went in so I tried to hit as few as possible.

    10 years later someone showed me the grip stuff and all that jazz finally had a lesson. Played a good bit a few years ago. now not so much.
     
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  42. Say Chi Sin Lo

    Say Chi Sin Lo Legend

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    Want to trade? Don't get me wrong, I love tennis, but like all sports, abilities goes down with age.

    Whereas music is eternal. I would give up my athleticism for musical talents.
     
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  43. Say Chi Sin Lo

    Say Chi Sin Lo Legend

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    I had a "Goran phase" too, but no rocket serves though. Just an awkward pose and a lame serve.
     
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  44. Say Chi Sin Lo

    Say Chi Sin Lo Legend

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    I'm not 30 yet, but I am still worrying about exams for my MBA program. :evil: But at least I know there's an end in sight.

    The thing with Ph.D in science is, a lot of it is luck. And if you're not lucky and get stuck with a crappy PI (principle investigator/professor), you ain't graduating and good luck getting into post-docs.

    Two grad students who are equally capable will work equally hard, but one of them will have numerous papers in big name journals, and graduate in 5-6 years. The other can slave away for 7 years with no papers and be screwed for post-docs.
     
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  45. goober

    goober Legend

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    I think you are confusing talent with performance. Whether you actually have musical talent or not I don't know, but...

    You can lose your ability to play an instrument as well if you don't practice. None of my siblings and myself have played piano in about 20+ years. None of us could sit down and play anything other than simple songs. An adult that took up piano could easily pass where I am now simply by practicing every day and having decent instruction. Yes if we were both determined to play, I would be way ahead at least in the beginning, but I am not. I enjoy listening to music. I have a better appreciation of classical music having been exposed to it, but I also realize that even at my best I was just a hack relatively speaking. I would never give any type of public performance in piano as adult. I am perfectly fine listening to professionals play while I do something that does interest me.

    The reality the vast majority of people I knew who played piano and violin as kids rarely play today as adults. There are exceptions but I get the impression that you think that if you took lessons as a kid, you would be wowing friends and family with your abilities. That scenario could be true if you practiced every day and kept up with it. But I think most people (who don't have unusual musical talent) as adults have work/family and other obligations that get in the way of practicing regularly just to be a half baked piano player. Being a half baked tennis player is better to me than being a half baked piano player. In tennis you can get exercise, socialize and you can play publically at different levels. Nobody wants to hear a 3.5-4.0 level adult piano player.
     
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  46. hollywood9826

    hollywood9826 Semi-Pro

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    My only regret is not teaching myelf to play left handed at the start.
     
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  47. tennisplayer1993

    tennisplayer1993 Semi-Pro

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    I went to the 2001 us open hewitt vs. roddick quarterfinal and have been playing and following tennis ever since. My father had 3 tickets for him, me, and my brother
     
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  48. max

    max Hall of Fame

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    Yeah, this is true. I'm getting older, my legs are shot, but I'm glad I can at least chuck along on a guitar. Piano would totally rock.
     
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  49. rk_sports

    rk_sports Hall of Fame

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    soCal
    My dad a huge tennis enthusiast would play a bit and watch all grand slams .. and then got me a tennis instruction book by Pancho Gonzales :)
    But the kicker was when I saw Becker play with this inimitable style.. diving and all... that's it
     
    #49
  50. Costagirl

    Costagirl Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2013
    Messages:
    186
    Location:
    USA
    I loved visiting flea markets as a kid with my dad. i saw a junior wood racquet for $1.50 and he bought it for me. I would chalk fake tennis lines on the back of a 7 Eleven convenience store in Philadelphia and work for hours on keeping the ball going. I wasn't rich or come from a tennis family. I just tell in love and have been ever since.
     
    #50

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