By: James Aronson, Spider Tennis junior

It was a Thursday afternoon in Coach’s office, just like any other Thursday. We were scheduled to play Navy and UMBC on the road that weekend, arguably our biggest rivals. Coach and I often hung out in his office before practice. This time he seemed a bit edgy. He ultimately admitted to being nervous for the weekend’s matches as they would probably come down to the wire. I looked him in the eyes and said, “Coach, I promise you we will beat both Navy and UMBC.”

I couldn’t have blamed him for being nervous because thats exactly what happened that weekend.

That Saturday morning against Navy we battled back and forth, multiple matches going three sets. The Spiders eventually scrapped out a 4-3 win and it felt so great to get some revenge from the previous year’s 4-3 loss.

Our minds then switched to UMBC, whom we had upset the previous year. The Spiders came out strong taking the doubles point and a 1-0 lead. Our energy was high as all we needed was three more singles wins and we would secure the win, and more importantly that promise I made.

A few hours passed as I was about to begin my third set as I realized the overall match was tied at 3-3. My match at fifth singles was going to be the deciding match. I kept thinking to myself, ‘How fitting, you have the opportunity to close the door and fulfill that promise you made.’

These were the moments every young aspiring college tennis player dreamt of. Here was my chance to experience my teammates relying on me more than ever and sprint towards me to celebrate a win. These were the moments I thrived in.

I went down 5-1 40-30; UMBC’s match point. I thought to myself, ‘I blew it.’ But what I didn’t know was that in the next hour, I was about to learn about myself more than ever as a competitor as well as a person. I somehow found some fire in me to fight off the next two points, the second being a sudden death point. I later found myself down 5-3 40-0 again thinking that I lost.

I started to think about my teammates and how I wasn’t going to give up for them. Again, I managed to save an additional four match points and bring it to 5-4. I could sense my opponent feeling nervous. I ended up bringing it to a tiebreak at 6-6 where the first to win seven points, wins. Down another match point at 6-5 in the tiebreaker I scrapped out another point with the support of my teammates fueling my legs.

Finally, I found myself facing an eighth match point of the night at 7-6. I lined up a backhand down the line and hit the top of the net, rolling back on to my side. With my teammates, my coach, and my father watching, I fell to the ground. Sobbing on the court, I was convinced that comeback was all for nothing. I thought about letting all my teammates down. I thought about the promise I broke. I thought about the hopes of winning being destroyed.

The things I learned from that night changed myself an immense amount. I realized that no matter how hard you can work on something, you can’t control the result. Not everything is going to fall the way you want it to and you must accept the outcome. It made me appreciate the opportunity to compete in situations like those. It furthered myself mentally as a player by containing the high’s and low’s of my emotions. It made me understand the importance of perseverance and to embrace moments like those. Although I didn’t win, it was a very humbling moment to give my teammates hope when there was little to none left.

All of my teammates are different people with unique backgrounds. Yet this one specific interest we share has brought these special backgrounds together. The Richmond Tennis family doesn’t just bring people together, but creates a sense of genuine care and desire to succeed between those individuals: the greatest gift of all.