The Jedi Who Scored Love

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NO! Not in that way….come on, guys! Get your heads out of the clouds! Before I forget…Happy Friday the 13th!

There is one thing, and one thing only, I really, really, really miss about high school. It’s funny. You’d think I would miss so much more than I do. The easy coursework (didn’t seem so easy at the time…now I’d give anything to take on that level of intelligence), the friendships I made (which were honestly far and few inbetween…now we’re more keen on trying to out-do the other…which is even sadder), the so-called late nights (even with a sporting event taking up most of my evening followed by a “load of homework”, I was still in bed by midnight/12:30 every night).

Wouldn’t you want that back? But I don’t…not even in the slightest bit. I’m loving all the freedom I have now.

I no longer have a curfew and its GREAT!

BUT…the one thing I do miss is tennis. I miss everything about tennis and what it meant to me back then. Don’t get me wrong. I still love the sport. Love everything about it. I watch the US Open obsessively, keeping track of the “It” people of the tennis world and the up-and-coming surprises of the tournament. I miss it so much I’ve taken on a tennis course in my final semster at the Academy. I even attempted to play for the Academy’s tennis team, but then I became more involved in my theater program, which left little time for anything else, sadly.

The man no one could beat...until recently.

I played a sport for every season when I was in high school. Basketball, ran track, and beat the crap out of everyone in tennis. I took the 1st singles position when I was a sophomore, and I never gave it up. People challenged me for the position, but they couldn’t take it from me. I never stopped wanting to be the absolute best.

June and July were spent taking on opponents in a summer league our school team entered the summer before my junior year, but that was only one match a week. Yes, we played team’s we would see again in our regular season and we could prepare ourselves in that sense. But it wasn’t enough. Along with summer tourneys, I took summer lessons a couple days a week in the mornings before daily chores required my attendance at home. That was one major benfit I had with growing up on a dairy farm. Chores = physical activity. It built muscles, toned me, disciplined me more than I would realize at the time. My thin stature came from hard work, and believe me, I earned it. I earned the right to eat like a guy at lunch. I was burning thousands of calories a day, and not even noticing! I also assisted in teaching younger kids the fundamentals of tennis when I wasn’t working on my own skills.

It's my Super Bowl.

Not going to lie…it’s a pretty awesome feeling to hear kids go “whoooooooa!” when you demonstrate where your serve will go if you practice, practice practice. I don’t know how good a teacher I was, but if anything else, assisting in those classes sure was an ego boost. You need that every once in awhile.

Cuz guess what? Tennis is SUCH a mental game. It’s 40% technique and 60% attitude. I gave in to self-pity one too many times due to poor attitude. Where was my Jedi training when I needed it?

No one sees you sweat at night.

When other kids were enjoying their last days of freedom away from the tennis courts and classrooms, I was getting myself revved for the upcoming season. I actually trained myself physically in preparation for preseason practices. I’d get up in the morning and run. I helped with chores in the afternoon, consisting of lifting 50 pound pails of feed, unloading hay wagons filled with 40 pound hay bales, rebuild fences, milk the cows (lots of squatting and fast paced movement…no taking your time when the girls need to be milked!). Then, in the evening, I’d help with dinner or have some time to myself for reading and writing or hanging out with friends. I’d always fit in another run, though. Even if it was 11:00 pm at night, I’d go for another run. It’s a different feeling, to run through the night time foggy mist. A lot cooler, too.

Yes, I miss all that, but there’s something I miss even more. I miss the way I took the court. When the line-ups were announced, and I stood at the head of the team, then stepped forward to shake the hand of my opponent, I always made sure to look her dead in the eye when we exchanged a customary “Good Luck” to each other. Dead straight in the eye.

Come and get me.

The confidence.

I knew I was good. I knew I had a killer forehand, especially when I took the time to set up my opponent. My serve dominated. I had more aces my senior year than I can remember. If I weaved my way up and attacked the net? Forget about it. You’re dead. If somehow you managed to lob over me, nice try. It’s coming right back at you. I don’t quit. I run until the point is completely over. I pulled out so many random and awkward movements in order to get the ball, it was crazy. I did what I had to do. The point wasn’t over until I said it was over.

Never say die.

Every time I walked onto the court, I wanted opponents, teammates, spectators, coaches…absolutely everyone…to make one comment about me: That I was fearless. Out there, I was anything I wanted to be. Sure, I cried tears. Tears of happiness when I pulled off a win everyone believed to be a tough one. Tears when I lost a match I knew I could have taken, but everything just seemed out of my grasp that day. Tears of pain when I twisted an ankle, scraped my legs so bad I was bleeding on the spot, when my legs cramped up I couldn’t move, when my knee cartalige decided to start disappearing from under my knee cap and scraped the bones together, when I tore the rotary cuff in my right shoulder (my serving shoulder!) and sometimes, from sun burn.

Doing it, Rocky style.

Despite it all….I loved the sport more than anything else. I was named All-Conference several years in a row, captain for a few years, best team player, best of a lot of things, actually. I started as a lowly 7th grader who’d never touched a racquet before in her life….and I rose to the top. It felt great.

I miss all of it.

“Do I worry about being the sharpest-toothed, longest-tongued and clawed, most relentlessly snappish bitch in British journalism? No.”

Say it how it is, darling.

Those are the words of Jean Rook, a happy hack. She was an English journalist  dubbed The First Lady of Fleet Street for her regular opinion column in the Daily Express. Jean Rook was fearless, and when people read her column, they knew it.

That’s what I want to regain. The ease of how I turned into the uber confident individual. Eventually, with enough time and patience, I do believe my Jedi training will give me that. Eventually, I’ll be able to walk into a coffee shop and simply by the way I walk through the door, it will command attention in a silent way. People will know there’s something different about me compared to everyone else who enterd before or after me. A quiet confidence. A confidence with purpose.

A confidence where I know I can take on anything the world throws at me because I know the Force is my ally. Everywhere I go, it is there.

Good thing, too. Like Jean Rook, sometimes I tend to shoot my mouth off (I don’t know for a fact if she did, but I’m assuming. She was a journalist, after all.)

You never know who’s going to overhear that one comment no one else is supposed to hear.

Not again!

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