Teachers often get so used to talking that they often do not know how to stop. That’s all too true of me. Aware of this, I cannot resist the temptation to offer a few ideas to you, the members of Whitman men’s and women’s tennis teams whom I have come to know and enjoy.
For 37 years I have maintained a close relationship with Whitman’s tennis players, and it pleases my soul to say that I have rarely seen bad or even poor sportsmanship. Thus the following remarks are general, totally lacking of any personal reference. To me, the tennis court is not simply a place for an athletic event. It is a stage on which a large part of what is to be the theme of one’s life is acted out. It is almost certain that what you are on the tennis court is what you will be as a friend, as a husband or wife, and in your professional life.
It is on the tennis court that one creates or exhibits a response to danger and defeat, to tiredness, to surprise or bad luck, and also to bad behavior as one confronts it in a cantankerous opponent. All of these experiences have their precise parallels in ordinary life. One is similarly tested as to his or her capacity to care for the welfare of the team instead of being absorbed in one’s private progress. The care and self-discipline that one employs in preparation for the tennis match is likely to be the same that will be used in getting ready to face life’s larger roles.
To be specific, it is my hope that anyone whom you play against would finish the match having enjoyed playing with you (regardless of the outcome), because of the way you treated him or her. There are some people whom you will not […]