Look Up, Get Up, but Never Give Up / by Academy Monthly

A rattle, and then the ball was flying, zooming directly at me. I grunted as I raised my racquet, the brunt force of the ball’s velocity pushing me back a little. I smiled as I saw my backhand skim over the net, fast and low. My opponent returned the ball just as fast but towards the net at my partner. 

“YOU!” she screamed, but I was already running towards the ball. I hit it back, barely keeping the ball in the court. My opponent sliced it into the net, and we won the point. Deuce, 9 all. It was a tie. I needed to win this match. I had to. The coach was looking on, her sharp gaze scanning over the court. We were currently playing a 10 point tiebreaker. I took in a deep breath and remembered the first time me and my dad had played tennis together. 

“When you hit your backhand Amanda, you always gotta remember to lift up and get under the ball. Otherwise it will go into the net. Also, you have to remember to have the right grip Amanda. And keep your racquet face closed or else the ball will go way out of the court” I nodded, and tried to hit a backhand as the sun blinded my eyes. 

“Good job.” My dad winked and smiled. I gleamed. I loved it when my dad complimented me. But I knew it was just an average backhand. It barely even went over the net. I took in a deep breath and  tried to hit some more backhands but sighed as I saw them go into the net instead. I could feel the sun burning my face.

“Alright, alright,” I panted. “Let’s take a quick break.”

My dad chugged down his water as I gulped mine slowly down. 

“You know Amanda, you’ve improved a lot.” I smiled. “But, you still have a lot to work on. You hit your serve way too low so the ball does not have as high of a chance of getting over the net as a high serve would. And when hitting low balls Amanda, you need to get under the ball.” I sighed, but nodded. “Alright. Let’s get back on.”

I swung some more backhands at my dad, but got more and more angry with each hit as they kept going out or into the net.

“UGH.” I grunted. “This is so stupid. I can’t hit any of the balls Dad. I suck. I mean I can’t even seem to get a stupid backhand over the dumb net. Like, how bad do you even need to be to do this bad??? And the stupid dumb sun keeps getting in my eyes. My skin is literally going to burn off.” 

I got off the court and sat down to get some water. My dad came over and sat next to me. I pouted my face knowing how childish I was being. My dad took a deep breath and smiled.

“You know Amanda, when I first started, I wasn’t able to hit the balls very well either. I only had one arm and just holding the racquet was hard enough. But you know what? I didn’t care. I kept practicing and practicing. 6 to 9 hours straight. Do you know how bad I would get sunburned? Grandma would always yell at me about it and tell me to come home earlier. She would always get worried when I stayed late out. But anyway, those long hours of practice are what got me so far. You can’t expect to become good at tennis overnight. You know long it took me to get here? 9 years. You’ve only been playing for a couple months, but I see you’re already getting pretty good. You just need to practice some more and you’ll get there. Never forget that Amanda. I know you get frustrated easily but you gotta know that you have to give it some time. Never give up Amanda. Try taking a deep breath when you feel anxious or mad or annoyed or something. That’s what I used to do.” My dad laughed. “Okay, now let’s get back on the court and hit some more.”

“Mm.” I smiled. I grabbed my racquet and headed back on.

“Hello? Amanda? Where you at? Hurry up and serve the ball!” It was my partner. Back to reality. I served. I cringed as I saw it go into the net. 

“C’mon Amanda. You got it.” My partner gave me an encouraging smile. I took a deep breath. 

“High serve Amanda.” I remember my dad saying. I throw the ball high and raise my racquet before bringing it down. It slams into the service box and bounces it high over the opponent. 

“OH MY GOSH! ACE!! AMANDA WE WON!!” My partner was screaming. 

“AHAHHAHAH WE WON!” I raised my hand and gave my partner a high five. 

“Nice job girl. We did it!” I giggled and gleamed. We won. Heh thanks dad.

Later, my dad drived by and got into the car.

“So, how did you do?” He asked.

“We won.” I smiled. My dad smiled and gave me a thumbs up. My smile widened even more.