The Grand Slam tournaments, also referred to as the Majors, are the four most important annual tennis events for professional tennis players. They offer the most ranking points, prize money and top players, which is why I wanted to name my column after them, to talk about the biggest and best things happening in Harding sports throughout the year.
Unless you play tennis, you probably don’t know a lot about it. What makes tennis different from any other sport is the fact that it is an individual sport as well as an international sport. Individuals from all around the world are competing for spots in universities.
Being a college athlete is a full-time job and at the Division II level. It is just as competitive as some Division I schools. With early morning conditioning and afternoon practices that can last up to three hours some days, it is hard to catch a break. The list of responsibilities can be daunting with balancing practice, schoolwork, possibly a job and social life. I myself am a Division II athlete and deal with these tasks on a daily basis.
I’ve played tennis for 12 years. The love of the game has always been there for me. Some days, of course, are harder than others; but overall my passion has been there. My parents both played in college, so I grew up with it. I knew I wanted a competitive atmosphere and my ability is not advanced enough to be Division I, and that’s how I found Harding.
My past three years as a Harding athlete have given me experiences I never would have imagined. The friendships I’ve built, things I’ve learned and growth I’ve experienced are truly priceless. I’ve experienced some of the worst and best times of my life on the team.
Besides the obvious physical toll, sports, especially tennis, also have a mental toll. Being able to maintain sanity on the court or on the field is a feat — constantly trying to better yourself and compete with others, all without worrying.
The battle between the desire to quit and the desire to keep pushing forward is something most athletes in college face at some point in their careers. Doing something you’ve loved or that has been a significant part of your life for such a long time can easily become something that you hate at times.
In times of little, I’ve learned to look at the other positive areas in my life outside of the sport. In times of plenty, I’ve learned to take it in doses because things can change so quickly in the sports world.
One of my favorite things about Harding is the potential for spiritual growth and the community environment that is everywhere. If I weren’t at Harding I’m not sure I would even be playing a sport, simply because of the environment. The encouragement from people in all different aspects of my life is what keeps me out there.
The more athletes I get to know at Harding, the more I find our stories are similar. A lot of students come to Harding just for athletics. That was the case for me my freshman year. Since then, I’ve learned to see that even though athletics are still important, at Harding you can have that in addition to so much more.