The game of tennis is about becoming your best self, adopting a growth mindset, deactivating your ego, working hard, communicating, doing your best, and millions of other positive character/lifestyle traits. What it is NOT about is excluding others. That may be acceptable at country clubs, but there’s no place for that in the rest of the world. This is an international sport. Look at the top 50 world tennis players, and the countries represented there. Spain. Switzerland. Germany. South Africa. Belgium. France. Argentina. Serbia. Croatia. USA. Greece. Italy. Hell, that’s just the Men’s top 15.
Last weekend I watched a group of grown adult men–all in their 60s–NOT play tennis because of childish bickering. One man (We’ll call him JB) said he wouldn’t play with another man(we’ll call him AJ), even though AJ was BETTER THAN JB in tennis ability. He said AJ wasn’t ‘refined’, that his game was too ‘rough’, that it wasn’t ‘real tennis’, but ‘circus tennis’. Really? One court available, and you can’t put aside your snobbish ways to get in some good hitting/matchplay? And if his game is circus tennis, then what is yours, especially if he can beat you?
A beginners’ tennis group I knew refused to allow other similarly-leveled tennis players into their clinic group because they were considered ‘outsiders’. What? You all are BEGINNERS. You should be embracing every single opportunity possible to play and learn. Tennis is still a SOCIAL SPORT!
I get this all the time when I ask someone if they want to hit at a public tennis facility: “Are you any good?” I’m sorry, I left my resume at home. There’s a court out there, we’re here to play tennis, you don’t have a partner, neither do I. What does it matter? Can’t you hit for a little while? Weren’t you a beginner at some point? And are YOU any good? What’s your world ranking?
It’s a problem, and I think it needs to be addressed. There’s no place in the sport for deliberate exclusion of people in tennis, for any reason. But it happens all the time. People excluding others from teams, clinics, or playing opportunities because they don’t like the person, or something about that person.
I notice a lot of adults who are getting into tennis now bring in their limiting beliefs about tennis. They only want to get good enough to play a match, that technique and learning has no place in their game. it’s too much work. They have limiting beliefs about people. Only certain types of people should be playing tennis, and I’ll let you guess they don’t have melanin. They have limiting beliefs about competition. They don’t want to play against people considerably better or worse than them, that it somehow ‘messes up their game’. They rail against players with ‘non-conventional’ games. They file petitions to disqualify players who beat them in league play, instead of working to improve their own games. They consider losing an affront to their ego. A sign of their tennis inadequacy. Or personal inadequacy.
Here’s the reality: if this is you, then you’re an a**hole. Your game will never improve because you’re insecure as a person. Until you get rid of your ego you and your team of like-minded sheep will get your asses beat in league play. The country club mentality only works in the country club.
The game is evolving, people are getting better, working hard, and using their individual gifts and skills to craft wins. They can improvise. It’s not luck. You can hate it, but it’s not going anywhere. Tennis demands imagination.
Open your mind in tennis, at least. That person who has nothing in common with you may possibly be your winning doubles partner, teammate, or practice partner who helps your game get to the next level. There’s no place in the game for your small mindedness. There’s no place in life for your small mindedness. Do better.