You have been training hard for this match and worked hard to prepare for it. As you were warming up for this match, you struck up a conversation with your opponent who is also a fan of tennis. You started comparing your past experiences and how each of you developed individually. You started to notice as the match progressed, that your opponent was getting a bit restless. You wondered if this was just due to the fact that you are both competitors and have worked hard to get where you are, or was there something more going on? You started to notice that your opponent’s focus was waning, and he was less interested in the outcome of the match. Finally, you could tell that your opponent was distracted by something else and were no longer listening to each other. You looked at your watch, and time was running out.
After the match, you congratulated each other on a passionate match and began to discuss the possibilities of continuing the relationship. Your opponent seemed genuinely interested and said he enjoyed your company and would like to get to know you better. You agreed and began to develop a friendship that lasted long after your first match.
Retired tennis matches are very different from betting matches in many ways. First off, it is usually a more personal encounter. For example, when you play a betting match, you play for fun with your opponent assuming that you are both interested in winning. However, when you play a ‘retired tennis match’, you play because you genuinely enjoy playing and want to continue improving your game. In addition, there is less pressure. When you play for fun, you are often under the pressure to perform well so that you can win. However, when you play a ‘retired tennis match’ you are under no such pressure as there is no chance of you losing. Also, when you play for fun, your opponent will usually be a stranger who you have only just met. However, when you play a ‘retired tennis match’, your opponent will usually be someone you have competed against multiple times and thus have some familiarity with. Finally, depending on the arrangement between the two parties, there may be more money involved. When you play a betting match, the objective is to win, or at least come as close as possible. However, when you play a ‘retired tennis match’, it is usually a one-off event and there is no need to put any pressure on yourself to win as you already have. You play simply to have some good old fashioned fun.
Tennis matches are often spectacular to watch and even more exciting to be a part of. If you follow tennis closely, you will notice that the level of play steadily increases as the years go by. Although it is difficult to put into words, there is something about being part of the game that makes it seem more exciting. Matches between professionals can last for several hours and involve a lot of strategy and physical strength. Even at the highest levels of competition, injuries are common especially among the male players, which makes you wonder if all that strength is really worth it in the end.
It is very rare to find an encounter where two individuals bond over a common interest as strongly as you and your opponent did. However, what is even more rare is to find an opponent who showed up to the match genuinely interested in getting to know you better and who continued to develop a meaningful relationship with you afterwards.
What is important is not so much the outcome of the match itself but rather what happened leading up to the match that made it so special. You started to notice that your opponent was getting distracted by something else and had other things on his mind. Finally, you could tell that he was no longer listening and his attention was somewhere else. You started to wonder if this was just a coincidence or if there was something more going on behind the scenes. You struck up a conversation with him to find out what was bothering him, and you began to develop a genuine interest in him and his life. He began to open up to you, and the friendship grew from there. In the end, you played a pivotal role in helping him focus on what was important in life and helped bring a smile to his face again. This is what made the encounter more worthwhile. If nothing else, you and your opponent established a new relationship that will benefit you both in the future.
The match ended, and you left the courts together. You shook hands, smiled, and began to head in the direction of the locker rooms. As you were walking, you noticed that your opponent seemed somewhat distant. You approached him and asked what was going on. He said that he was thinking and needed some time to himself to decompress. You said that you understood and began to walk away. Suddenly, he called out to you.
You turned around and said, “I hope we can still be friends. It was a privilege to meet you and play such an interesting game. I hope we can continue to see each other and improve our games together.” You nodded and said, “Of course, we can still be friends. I was just worried about how distracted you seemed during the match. I hope everything is fine. I have a good feeling about our future.” You turned to walk away but then looked back and said, “And don’t be mistaken – we are still tennis players.” He laughed and said, “Yes, but not today.” You responded with a smile and headed for the locker rooms. You had worked hard to get to this point, and you had accomplished your goal. You had faced all of your demons and stood tall. You felt proud of yourself and even more so because you had done something that you believed would benefit your opponent. You had proved that even when you are motivated by the purest of intentions, you can actually hurt the one you love. You had played the match for your opponent, but at the end of the day, you had won too.