Tennis Offers Skills And Life Lessons
• Local tennis players put in long hours and hard work to refine skills.
For many young people on the Hill, and around the country, sports are an integral part of their lives. They show their athleticism through sports such as basketball, baseball and football. The list of sports goes on.
One sport in particular is making huge strides among young athletes on the Hill: tennis.
One of the main reasons is the affluence of Palos Verdes residents. Tennis is an expensive sport, making it difficult for those in lower-income communities to seriously pursue it.
From tennis equipment to finding the right coach, nothing comes cheap for aspiring tennis players. However, due to the general financial stability of those on the Peninsula, aspiring players do not have as much of a problem pursuing tennis success as many others.
With money comes tennis clubs. In the South Bay, there are countless tennis clubs available for players to practice and perfect their skills. And with prominent tennis clubs come prominent coaches.
For Tennis Power Academy, one of the most renowned and experienced organizations in the South Bay, coaches from around the world come to teach aspiring young players about the insights of the sport and how to reach their dreams.
For Oliver Messerli, director of Tennis Power Academy at Peninsula Racquet Club, this local affluence is a known reality
Along with experienced coaches, Messerli operates his academy so that members can train every aspect of their tennis performance, from the mind to the body. He also strives to ingrain skills and lessons that could be applied to future experiences.
“One thing we do [at Tennis Power Academy] is teach players to do self-evaluations every three months, where players are forced to evaluate their own habits and set goals,” Messerli said. “If you look at any successful business person or athlete, he or she would always set goals and follow up on them, which is a skill I want to instill in my members.”
Another aspect that Messerli emphasizes about tennis is its culture of individuality, making it stand out from most other sports. For instance, the term that is continually heard in the sports world is “team”.
A young athlete joins a team of basketball players or a team of baseball players. For aspiring tennis players, however, they enter an individual sport, where the results of match or a tournament is based on their individual effort. This means that these players would have to bear the weight of these results alone.
For many athletes, however, this is just their cup of tea.
For Palos Verdes High senior and varsity tennis captain Chloe Blakey, the individuality of the sport gives a player the sense of full accomplishment from his or her results. Blakey explains that this characteristic of tennis was one of the reasons she fell in love with the sport.
“I first started playing because my parents were tennis players, but I continued playing and eventually loved the sport because it is an individual sport, not a team activity,” Blakey said.
Tennis gives players an opportunity to apply the lessons and skills they learn on the court into other aspects of their life.
The sport’s emphasizing of repetition, muscle memory, self-evaluation, recovery and discipline allows a player to be prepared to operate in society as they grow older. From facing rejection to attaining perseverance, the world out there may require skills learned from athletics to succeed.
Messerli hopes that the lessons his young athletes learn from Tennis Power Academy will help them follow their aspirations in the real world. This hope resonates with its members like incoming Peninsula High freshman Takehiro Shuda.
“I think tennis is basically all in the head, so the sport really strengthens my mentality, which can be beneficial to real-life situations,” Shuda said.
“In the future, I think I would be a lot stronger mentally than those who may not have been involved with a sport because it would increase my stubbornness and ability to persevere through times of struggle,’’ Shuda said.
Gaining these skills, however, is difficult. Because tennis is a one-person sport, a player needs to bear the weight of both victories and losses. If a player loses a match, he or she needs to evaluate their own mistakes and their own losses in order to improve. Unlike team sports, where teammates are able to comfort one another in times of disappointment, tennis players, despite potential support from others, need to bear the results of their own execution.
After all, the player’s efforts are what produces the end result. However, this is not an entirely negative aspect of tennis.
“A tennis player would learn to have repetition in their movements, the skill of time management and the ability to deal with rejection in order to be successful,” Messerli said. “These are skills that any businessperson [or anyone in the workplace] would have to learn later in their life, so learning these skills early on as a tennis player would bring an athlete one step ahead of the game.”
According to Messerli, the self-evaluation and individuality of tennis produce positives that outweigh the negatives. The lessons attained from learning to recover from losses are what is necessary for the business world or any career. From facing rejection to one’s idea in a meeting to bearing the weight of an entire company as a CEO, there are endless parallels between the workplace and tennis. This sport can teach valuable skills to a young player, which can help them deal with almost inevitable obstacles that may obstruct his or her path in the future.
“Every single kid will go through difficulties and challenges, so I think tennis is an amazing tool for kids to persevere through these struggles and attain life skills,” Messerli said.
Despite the inevitable obstacles and difficulties tennis may bring to a player, the lessons and skills learned from playing the sport may be beneficial for the future. The racquet does a lot more than just hit a ball over a net, it also prepares young players for the tough world that they will face in the near future.