Eight years ago I was asked by one of my girlie friends to check up on her daughter. Actually she wanted me to watch her daughter playing tennis and tell her my honest opinion. My friend was willing, at that time, to sell everything she owned and move to another country where her daughter would have had better opportunities to make it to the top in tennis. I tried and tried and tried again to avoid assessing the girlie’s game, but my friend was very pushy. I knew her for so many years and she was always pushy…in a good way, of course. She was a tennis player herself, one of those who couldn't make it further. So she dreamed that her daughter would reach what she, the mother, couldn’t.
So, here I was, one of the many spectators watching kids playing the sport. The girlie was 11, very pretty, very lean. She caught everybody’s eyes. Mine as well….but that was all. So, after the game I was trying again to make my statement sound not too harsh. I even wore my stupid smile that day! In the end, I went for the truth. So I said “She may be in the top 200 one day, but I personally doubt that she will make it to number one. She knows all the tricks, but there is no natural talent, no fast reaction and definitely no mojo for the game. I don’t believe that this is her dream, I mostly believe that is yours”.
I haven’t heard back from my friend for more than two years, but I knew that she moved to that country where her daughter was accepted to a high-level tennis academy. Then she emailed me and asked for my advice…again. She said that her daughter’s game didn’t go so well and the couches (now she had more than one!) were not happy with the girl’s evolution. I was just about to catch a plain and have a holiday in my friend’s new country so I thought to myself why not? So here I was again watching the girl playing tennis. Now she was 13, even more beautiful than I remembered her, stunning really. Same laziness for the game though. On top of that, being older now, she knew that she was watched by all sorts of boys. So once again, I put on a stupid smile (that may have appeared sarcastic, but I swear it was not!) and delivered the bad news to my friend. This time I was even harsher and I said that her daughter’s career would stop in the second she gets in love….because then she would discover her real passion. And once again I haven’t heard back from her for three more years. By then, my friend spent a bucket of dollars on training and coaching. Then she emailed again; this time to let me know that her daughter got in love with a swimmer and stopped playing. She told her mom that she never liked the game, never been in the zone, never wanted to do it for a career. She’s just done it for her mom.
Now, it’s not that I am always right as much as I would like to believe that. It is about the game really and I’ve done it for too long so I have an eye for it. So I was fair and told the truth…because I made a promise long time ago. But on top of everything I knew that no kid has to live the parents’ dreams. It is just not fair! Bottomline? What I’ve actually seen in that little girl wasn’t just her game, nor her hesitation in playing creative. It was so much more than that. She hasn’t had any desire to be there and I am sure that her mind was way away from the court. Otherwise, she would have heard when I told her, just between the sets, “Remember that you can stop anytime”. :)
Yours in fitness,