I stand on the baseline, bouncing a tennis ball off the ground using my left hand. My dad shuffles in place in front of the net, hovering in the serving box with his back facing me. We’re playing a doubles match at our town’s annual Father-Son tournament.
I’m an erratic tennis player. I lack the patience needed to slog through long points where players stand on the baseline and just keep hitting the ball back and forth. Slowly trying to grind down an opponent gets totally boring. I like action and am prone to attempting bold, point-winning shots. As a result, I lose points far more often than I win them. But who cares? When I do win a point, oh man is it a sight to behold.
I bounce the ball a few more times and decide to go for the ace. I’m gonna nail this sucker right down the centerline. It’s gonna blow right past the psychologist standing at the end of the court across from me. Glory will be mine.
I toss the ball into the air, lean in, and crush it with the racket. The ball tears through the air and tags my dad in the back of the head. His glasses jump off his face while the ball ricochets into the grass beside the court.
The three of us stand in silence. My dad reaches down, grabs his glasses, and puts them back on. Then he steps a few paces to the right, moving away from the center-line. He crouches forward with the racket in both hands and waits for the next serve. That’s it.
It’s a lesson about patience and understanding that I’ll never forget.