Why Do You Play?

Ian Westerman

Why do you drag yourself onto the tennis court several times a week or drive a couple of hours to play a league or tournament match?  Thanks to Ian Westerman, EssentialTennis.com, for this reminder self-introspective question, which could help you have more enjoyment out there.

Got Clobbered Today

Chuck and I played the #1 seeded team of Mike Dahm and Larry Back today and got beat 6-1, 6-1.  BUT it was a beautiful Florida day with blue skies and temps in the mid 80s … and those of us in our own mid 70s are still running around chasing that little yellow ball.

In answer to his own question, Ian Westerman writes, “More than likely your response falls into one of three buckets: competition, social interaction, or exercise (it might not, those are just the most common first answers).

Don’t stop there!  Ask yourself “why” again, and when you get your next answer, ask again, until you arrive at your fifth answer.

For me, my answers are:

  • Exercise – I confess… I am an addict … addicted to having daily exercise of some kind. If I don’t get it, I become uncomfortable.
  • Friendship – The two who beat us today are friends and very nice guys. And as another example, a group of us play every Monday morning at Spike Gonzales’ club and then go out to lunch afterwards.  And the lunch has become just about as important as the tennis.
  • Learning a skill – As a late-comer to tennis, I am still learning and still enjoying the learning experience. I feel for the guys who “used to be a lot better.”

How about YOU, why do you play tennis?

Know someone who should read this?  Send them a link and if you are not on my “new posting alert email list” and want to be (I promise, no other uses of your email address!), just drop me a note at GeorgeWachtel@gmail.com

Christmas gift? If you are looking for something to give a tennis-playing friend, consider my book, “Senior Tennis.” Available at Amazon.com, through a number of tennis clubs/shops (see the list at “My Book” on my website), or just see me!

11 thoughts on “Why Do You Play?

  1. When I was a kid just starting out in tennis, I was enthralled by the simple feel and sound of the ball hitting the sweet spot on the racquet and ricocheting off it and into the opposing court. It didn’t happen on every shot, but when it did it was sublime. It was literally “why” I played the game.

    I have gone through countless “why’s” since then but, secretly, this is still it.

    Strange that such a simple thing can be so compelling.

    Marty, i know … it is that rare sweet shot that helps bring us back. thanks, george

  2. my motivation today is different than my motivation to play 13 years ago. back then i still played only to win matches. i never thought about other motivations. now i play for the exercise, to be with my friends. i want to win but not at the cost of injuring myself by pushing the body too hard. it’s just hard to control that competitive drive.
    i decided i enjoy playing much more than not playing. You can say i’ve “matured”. i’m so proud of myself. ha!

    Joe, i agree and was the same… used to really care about winning. Now, if i play well and lose to a better player/team, that is perfectly ok. thanks, george

  3. George, for me it is all the obvious that you mention above…but the #1 reason for me is the sheer love of the ability to compete at a high level at the age of 72. I know there are many better and more fit players then I…but I take satisfaction that I have been able to transform my game to a degree from a BIG serve and BIG forehand and not much else….to and all around game with an occasional big serve or forehand. After two knees, back surgery and a stroke, what a great feeling it is to have the blood rush through your veins, the adrenal rush killing the pain in my old bones and the heart pounding as I try to catch some air when you old bastards drop shot me or lob me.

    What a blessing it is for all of us who come from many different backgrounds in life experiences and tennis…to met here in S.W. Florida and be able to compete against some off the best age category players in the country.

    Dave, a great way to get the adrenaline going — without fear of your parachute not opening! george

  4. Wow George. Don’t get me started. I actually get emotional when I contemplate my “Why.” I started playing at 9 and haven’t stopped except for a knee replacement and a rotator cuff surgery. It all started at summer camp when my older brother and his friends would not let me play with them! Not only pissed but determined, I started pounding tennis balls against our garage door in 1960, and drove my mother crazy! I’ve been addicted ever since. I have to play this game regularly! I feel whole when I’m on a tennis court. Gallway’s “Inner Game of Tennis” had a big influence on me! My competitive nature along with the health and wellness benefits that come with playing are all part of it for me!

    Jim, it’s a great addiction to have! george

  5. I got a closer picture of why I play tennis when I was injured 5 weeks ago and couldn’t play but just watch. I came back a week ago and I am just plain more aware of the fun I am having and what I missed. Similar to George even though I played as a kid and at prep school, I went on to playing Ice hockey for many years. Even though I have been back for 30 years I still feel like a kid learning a new sport and its so exciting that each match is such a learning experience. There are many senior players who all show up at Spike’s Monday matches I watch intensely and even ask them questions and they are all eager to give advice. Occasionally I get to use their advice against them and that’s even more fun.

    And the camaraderie with such exceptional people here in Naples is unbeatable even when they beat me.

    Dave, I am with you! george

  6. I play because it is pure fun and enjoyment, even when I lose a match.
    The camaraderie, particularly here in Naples, is unbeatable.
    I also play because I feel the unbeatable exercise is what has kept me alive, long beyond my genetic heritage.
    After shoulder surgery, I was told never to play right handed again. Not wanting to miss the tennis, I played left handed for 1 1/2 years.
    Tennis is truly a life saver for me.

    Michael. It is tough to believe how we – especially you – can run at our age! George

  7. I am in agreement with you George for the exercise and friendship. I played in high school and was on the court every day during the summer for 8 eight hours with other guys from my high school team. As much as I loved baseball, football, etc. tennis was my passion. I was at a Chicago public school so there was no coaching and no lessons. Didn’t matter-it was competitive and great fun. I couldn’t play quite as much during the college summers because of work, except on the weekends. It was so much easier getting a singles or doubles game than a whole team for the other sports. I never really let it go until my 40’s when I had back problems and took up golf, which was easier on my body.
    Over the years I’ve had my share of issues like everyone-rotator cuff, back, and tennis elbow. I’ve missed alot of time, which is always more painful than the injuries. I’m so thankful I took up the sport early as it is a game for life. I want to win as much as anyone but as jomac said the need is not quite as great anymore and it’s thrilling to be on the court with all my friends here.

    Andy. The time away is the most challenging to endure. George

  8. Nice to read all these comments George – I suppose those of us of a certain age are lucky that we can still enjoy it all, never mind the aching body ! I envy your winter sun down there in the south – have to settle for the gym & pilates over here as I’m in tennis hibernation now until the Spring ! Enjoy yourself & Happy Xmas/Hanukkah

    Howard. Thanks! George

  9. There is a lot to like about playing tennis and competing in matches.
    1. It enables us to play against new and different styles of play that we otherwise would not encounter playing with just our regular tennis friends.
    2. The subtleties of learning not just about better technique but also different tactics and strategy.
    3. Every now and then (if our senior aches and pains are not too great), we can feel a physical glow of well-being which becomes greatest on those special days when we seem to be in a zone where we are exceeding our normal limits.
    4. Each opponent presents a different challenge, problems to be solved, and a goal to reach.
    5. The mutual respect which comes when players give their all, bringing out the best in each other. At Sterling Oaks, FL I watched Fred Drilling come back from 3 match points down in a 7-6 third set against Tom La Penna – both physically hitting the wall but still making exceptional efforts and shots. Also New England’s Peter Allen and Tommy George playing doubles together and saving TEN match points to come back and win in a 3rd set.
    6. Even the order and symmetry when looking out on a freshly swept tennis court after being on common ground with our tennis friends.
    7. Of course the physical fitness/exercise and the sociability/ friendships with enthusiasm and humor that arise from tennis.

    Dag, you have to bring up the ten match point loss??!!?? 🙁 george

  10. It appears one thing we all have in common is the love of the game the passion and competitiveness it brings out in us is unreal
    I started playing at 45 yrs of age and still feel that age which I think tennis does that.
    Keeps us young at heart and mind !
    Keep playing until you drop !!!

    Gail, one of my favorite quotes… “You don’t stop playing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop playing.” George Bernard Shaw. George

  11. Great question, George. A wise man once wrote of change that “what ever it was that got you where you are today is sufficient to keep you there.” Ain’t it the truth……………but………..The fun of playing with friends, exercise and enjoying lunches and a beer…………..as American Express use to say…”don’t leave home without it em”!!

    Howie, and as another credit card commercial says: “Priceless”. george

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