“Mom, I did it! I can not believe I actually did it! A recruiter from the University of Iowa wants to come to my next USTA tennis tournament and watch me play.” “Wow Madison that’s great, I am so proud of you! I can’t wait to see your dad’s face when he hears this!” Madison is a junior in high school, and a phenomenal tennis player, she’s been playing tennis since the age of 5. She recently just caught the attention of a few big 10 schools, after winning the state tennis tournament last week. University of Illinois, Indiana University and the University of Iowa all contacted her this past week, hoping to get a chance to watch her play. Madison has her heart set on the University of Iowa. Not only does her brother go there, but she fell in love with the campus from the moment she set foot on it. With a mix of beautiful old stone buildings to modern- built structures, she felt at home. But now, Madison has to impress the recruiter and show him that she will be a great addition to the team. Since she is only a junior, she will have to verbally commit, unable to change her mind after she states her answer. Madison’s tournament is in exactly two weeks- in Chicago. She has already booked her tickets for her and her parents to fly into O’Hare three days before her tournament. Madison has played a decent amount of tournaments in Chicago, but this one will be the most challenging. For one, a recruiter will be watching her every move and her rival will be there- Sarah. Her and Sarah go way back in their tennis careers. Sarah used to live by Madison, and they trained at the same club together. At first they were very good friends, until they both started participating in the same tournaments. Both Sarah and Madison were both very high skill level players. Every time, they always ended up playing against each other in the finals. When they were younger, around 12 years old, they thought it was fun to play against each other and did not take it too seriously. But at about 15 years old, they took it much more seriously. Both girls stopped talking to each other and at tournaments all they did was exchange harsh stares. Madison knew going into this tournament that she was going to have to play Sarah, rather she wanted to or not. She just had to remember that if she could beat her twice, she sure as hell could beat her three times.
Three days before the tournament….
Madison purposefully booked her tickets for a morning flight so she didn’t have to go to school. She woke up at the crack of dawn and brought both of her parents luggage down to the front door. Both of her parents were already up and ready as well. Their taxi picked them up at 7:05, allowing plenty of time to get through bag check in and security. When they got to the airport, they got through everything in no- time. Now, Madison and her parents had an hour to spare. They all decided to sleep for a little bit, since they were all up super early. Within minutes, both of Madison’s parents are out cold, but Madison is still wide awake. To pass time, she gets up and walks around. She needs some time to think about everything that is going to happen these next few days. I just need to be prepared for anything. They know I’m a good player or else they wouldn’t take time to watch me, I just need to remember that. After about 15 of walking around, she heads back to her gate. When Madison approaches the gate, she sees her parents are awake and they both seem to be in a relatively good mood. “Hi, I’m glad you came back when you did, we’re just about ready to board!” Madison’s dad is a big shot business man, so they are always able to sit first class. “Madison sweetie, I just want to tell you how proud I am of you, you worked your butt off to get here and I couldn’t be happier!” Madison can’t help but smile, her dad was never in full support of her playing tennis. He really pushed Madison to try softball or soccer, but she never really showed any interest. But now that she has been so successful, he is starting accept and praise her. Once they board the plane and settle down in their seats, Madison forces herself to sleep, knowing these next few days are going to be very stressful. After the two hour plane ride, they finally landed in Chicago. Madison and her parents head down to baggage claim, and wait for their bags. At about this time, Madison always starts to get antsy. She starts rocking back and forth and playing with her ponytail- one of her common nervous ticks. “Maddison, take a deep breath and calm down, everything is going to be okay.!” says Madison’s dad while patting her on the shoulder. Once Madison and her parents get into their hotel room, Madison takes a long hot in an attempt to calm herself down. After her shower she decides to go to the tournament site-Midtown Athletic facilities. Even though she has played her fair share of tournaments there, she wants to re familiarize herself with the setup. She decides to walk there since it’s a beautiful day and her hotel is about two and a half block from midtown. As she enters the building, the first guest people greet her by her first name. Arriving at the courts, she takes in everything and memories start to come back to her- some good and some bad. She imagines herself gracefully hitting the tennis ball over the net in the championship match against Sarah…
Tournament: Day 1
Madison wakes up an hour before she needs to, and starts getting ready. She packed everything up last night, so all she has to do it shower off her body, get dressed and gather all her belongings. Thankfully, her nerves haven’t kicked in yet. Madison grabs a protein bar and makes oatmeal for breakfast, she needs good fuel for the day. Her parents wake up a little while after she finishes eating and they scurry around to get ready. When they are all ready, they walk the two blocks to arrive at Midtown. When they get there Madison goes over and checks in.
“Madison, we will call you onto the court for warm-ups in about a half hour. For now, we have food and drinks over there and a place to sit and relax as well.” Madison nods her head and thanks the sight director. She makes her way to the lounge area when she hears an unfamiliar voice call her name.
“Madison?” A middle aged man in a Iowa shirt comes up and greets her. “I am the University of Iowa’s tennis recruiter, it’s a pleasure to finally meet you!”
“Pleasure to meet you as well, I am sorry but what is your name?”
“My name is Mr. M., but I would be more than happy if you call me Bill.”
Hmmm.. he seems nice enough, I hope this goes ok. Madison thinks.
Bill follows Madison and her family over to the lounge area.
When they sit down Bill starts talking immediately, “ I really want to get to know your tennis background. Can you please take me through when you first started playing and accomplishments and things like that”
“Well, I started playing tennis when I was three. My mom still plays tennis and she was the one who introduced me to the sport. She said she saw an immediate connection between me and the sport. I started taking private lessons at the age of eight and continued ever since. I entered my first USTA tournament at twelve and actually ended up winning the entire tournament! In high school, I got the amazing opportunity to play first singles all four years. At times, competition got really intense but that [pushed me to play some of my best tennis. I qualified for state all four years. My first year, I made it to the top twenty five. I knew I was better than that so during the offseason, I trained harder than ever. The second year, I made it to the round of eight and then my junior year I made it to the top five. Then this year, I am so happy to announce I finished first in the state of Michigan!!”
By the end of Madison’s story, Bill has a huge grin on his face, he seems impressed. “ Wow, that is an amazing story. I am beyond excited to watch you play today, I wish you the best of luck. Don’t freak out because I am here. I know you are a phenomenal player so if you have an off day, do not sweat it.”
“Thanks Bill, that really means alot to me. I believe I am playing on the first court right here.”
“Madison and Ava, it is time to go on! You ladies will be on the first court right here. Best of luck to both of you, you have a fifteen minute warm up.”
Madison has played Ava in other tournaments, always coming out with a win. This match should be no different. Madison knows not to get too cocky because anything can happen in a match,one minute you can be pon fire and the net minute you can be playing terribly. They get out on the court and Madison starts doing her warm up exercises. Ssh does high knees for ten seconds and does twenty jumping jacks, in order to get herself going. They start warming up, both players not putting a lot of effort into their shots. By the time they begin warming up serving, the girls are smacking the snot out of the ball. Madison has a killer serve and forehand, that is what many people know her by. Also, her tennis coach calls her “Mad Madison” by how much she moves around on the court. The match can not begin until the players decide who serves first and who receives. Madison wins the racket spin and decides that she wants to serve first.. The first set goes by in a flash. Madison aced her opponent seven times and she made very few mistakes. She could tell Bill was thoroughly impressed. After her easy victory, Madison us greeted by bill who rewards her with a smile and a high five.
“Wow Madison, you really showed me how strong of a player you are.” Bill says with a smile.
“ Thanks Bill, that really means alot to me, thank you so much, I can’t wait to play Sarah, this will be a match of a lifetime!” Madison is beaming.
In Between matches, Madison decides to eat some food to make sure she has enough energy to finish another match. She chows down on an apple and cheese sticks and closes her eyes for a little bit.” On about ten minutes she’s woken up by the tournament director calling out her match. Snapping out of it, Madison walks up to her opponent and greets her. They walk out to the court side by side in complete and utter silence. They both go their separate ways and place their bags on opposite sides of the court and tart to warm up. Neither girl wants to play each other, but it has to be done in order to determine a winner.