Is this even possible? I can think of 1-2 women against whom I played singles 3, 4 or even 5 times. These were intense, competitive matches with very little chit-chat and silent changeovers. They had a different vibe than the doubles matches I play now. Yet, over time, I got to know the singles players well and came to really appreciate their physical and mental stamina. I came to admire each pushing me to the levels of play they did. And yes, eventually, once some of the matches were over and wins were earned, I could look back and appreciate the accumulated time we spent in "battle." You have the opportunity to see a person's character under these conditions. (Not that you can't in doubles!) I feel I got to know these women in a significant and deeper way than my doubles opponents--even though it took a long time. But somehow, it seems that competition got a bad name.
In much of my current group of tennis teammates (women), either they don't openly admit to really wanting to win, or these ladies simply aren't that competitive. (This is OK with me. They're still fun to be around) There are probably a number of reasons for a lack of competition (or expression of competition), varying with the individual. However, it'd be interesting to eventually draw some conclusions. I wonder about the expression of competition in tennis in a larger sense, especially when considering gender, but I can't help but wonder how it applies in my sitation and others. Context probably plays a part. (I'm thinking of USTA leagues) Are men able to be more openly competitive in our society? Do "nice" women downplay this trait? How about in college? Is it unattractive to appear competitive in a woman--but less so in a man? Are boys and girls equally taught not to be competitive--but simply "have fun?"
Does competition wane in doubles and the teamwork it requires? Is having played singles from an early age shaped my current attitude about the game? But isn't that the case with everybody? Or are we USTAers simply older and need to prove ourselves less, thus less competive generally? Is it the level one plays at? We've all got our own motivations for playing tennis. I know that. (a topic worthy of at least a couple posts!) But I still believe there is something to say about competition and the leagues in which I see it expressed, or not expressed.
Please don't get me wrong. I'm definitely NOT suggesting that winning comes before everything. I am unfailingly polite, even friendly, on the court. I'm interested in other peoples' lives, injuries and kids. I truly WANT everyone to have a good, happy time playing the game we all love (Kumbaya). But you know what? I really want to win. I openly admit it. Do you like me less?
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