Bleacher Bits: Tennis player really loves game
Once again I have to sheepishly admit that I have been taught a valuable lesson in anger management and perseverance in a sport by an unlikely source.
I've related in the past how I lacked the patience and temperament to get any enjoyment out of the game of golf.
Well, this week we turn to tennis.
I have nothing at all against the sport, and I marvel at the skill of athletes who play the game at the highest levels.
I just personally never came anywhere near that level. The last time I played was when I was 12 or 13, and was just at the local courts with buddies the same age. This was back in the Dark Ages of wooden racquets, and in my last summer of attempting to play, I smashed three of them on the ground when my body didn't execute the shot the way my mind wanted it to.
When the talk of tennis domination comes up, very few if any people will think of the name Esther Vergeer, but they should — because she recently won her 468th straight match.
Oh yeah, and like all her wins, she did it from a wheelchair.
According to the Associated Press, Vergeer is a 31-year old Dutch woman who has been in a wheelchair since she was 8, when an operation to correct hemorrhaging around her spinal cord left her paraplegic.
She has been ranked No. 1 in wheelchair tennis for more than 13 years, but even she knows nothing lasts forever.
"I'm still trying to develop the game of wheelchair tennis...but then again there's a lot of girls who work really hard and they are right behind me. I know that. It could be any day that I lose," she said.
Since making her first international appearance in 1996, Vergeer has won 42 grand slam titles, five Paralympics golds, and from 2004-06, she was 250 straight sets. In all, she has won 162 singles titles.
And don't think for an instant she plays "watered-down" tennis. Using a special wheelchair she designed herself, Vergeer rockets serves across the net at 78 mph, and is said to have a devastating backhand.
What does she credit for her success? "There's a lot of combinations and aspects that make me play well — hard work, determination, just a love of the game of tennis."
I can't imagine things went swimmingly when she first picked up a racquet, but here I sit — absolutely no pun intended — without having picked up a racquet for almost 40 years because I hit a couple backhands off the wood.
CONTACT Craig Purcell at 824-1036 or firstname.lastname@example.org.