Change is constant … oftentimes motivated by necessity, and other times, triggered by technology in an effort to maximize convenience. Rarely do we have a choice but to adapt, even if we are not clear on how we feel about the particular change.
From posted mail to e-mail, landlines to cellphones, and from enjoying the company of like-minded people to now having Facebook friends, we are constantly going in directions that we are unsure about. Just the other day, my 14-year-old nephew claimed to be the best tennis player in the world. He seemed so thrilled about his Nintendo Mario tennis video game accomplishments that his parents even bought him a trophy for reaching the top level. I wondered if this is much different from how Rafael Nadal must have felt at the age of 14.
Within the confines of a court, the game of tennis is changing as well. We have ever-improving technology when it comes to rackets and balls. The way we teach and learn the sport is changing wonderfully too, especially with USTA’s 10 and Under QuickStart initiative for kids.
However, in certain metropolitan cities, there is a very different kind of change that is becoming the norm. In an effort to accommodate a vast number of tennis enthusiasts, big city tennis programs are forced to provide the closest alternative to real tennis. This includes tennis in church basements, auditoriums and on the rooftops of buildings and hotels, and all places in between that can be converted into a playing area that somewhat resembles a real court. Lessons at such facilities often have six to eight players on a court with only one instructor, who has more to do with damage control than teaching because of the disproportional ratios of player-to-court space. This is a brand of tennis where players hit only a few balls and get an entire lesson at being better spectators.
It makes you wonder doesn’t it … how far will it go? Is a Facebook Friend really a friend? Is playing tennis like this even playing tennis at all? Or is my nephew’s Nintendo Mario tennis game actually closer to the real sport than what some of these programs have running? You tell me …