Why I Encouraged My Daugther to Play Tennis

I am an avid tennis player. While Baseball was my primary sport growing up, and the one I played in college, I always loved tennis. There is something spectacular about the game that requires both finesse and serious athleticism coupled with an incredible amount of strategy.

When it came to the sports or activities, my kids played I tried to help them experience the full range of sports I experienced growing up in the hopes they would find the ones they loved and the ones they did not. My goal was to never push them to play the sport I wanted them to play but instead let them pick the ones they enjoyed the most. I knew if they loved them they would be more committed and more of a chance they stick with it.

I had no idea which of the sports or activities my girls would choose, and while I did hope they would pick tennis, I didn’t want to force it on them. One of them did not, my youngest who is 12 choose dance while my oldest who is 14 did choose tennis. Again, while not pushing for this and letting it happen naturally, I was pleased tennis stuck with one of them.

I’m guessing Kayleigh choose it because she is a lot like me in the reasons she likes tennis, and specifically singles. In most the sports I played and enjoyed, I focused on positions which saw the most action. In baseball I played catcher, in football, it was the quarterback, during my brief stint with ice hockey I played center. Whatever the sport I enjoyed the position that saw the most regular action. But with tennis, and singles, in particular, it’s just you out there against your opponent, and ultimately this became my favorite sport for that reason. When discussing why she likes and chose tennis she had similar reasons.

But there is one very subtle element of singles that I knew would benefit my daughter long-term in life — mental toughness. I have played and had success in most the major sports I played, and I played all the main ones at high competitive levels. But none challenged me more mentally than tennis. There are other individual sports, Golf being one of them, that are also highly mental but when you include the athleticism, endurance, strategic chess match with your opponent, and technical finesse of tennis together it is one of the most challenging sports out there in my opinion. But the mental toughness part of singles is the genuine deal breaker, and this was the one component I hope will benefit my daughter the most.

Being in the valley, I see and hear about the struggles of women in our industry regularly. In most professions, this is the case, and I doubt much will change by the time Kayleigh enters the workforce. My hope is the skill and mental perseverance necessary to succeed at tennis become useful life skills in a world where women still have to work harder than men and persevere more than men to be successful.