My brother Mark is a talented 4.5 tennis player in Wilmington, North Carolina. Predominately a singles player, Mark masters the court with a killer left forehand, quick return and powerful top spin. To say he loves the sport is an understatement. Tennis is his passion and joy. It’s what he looks forward to at the end of the work day, how he spends most weekends. He watches every major tournament, reads every tennis article, wears all the Rafa apparel.
So, let me take you back to the spring of this year. Mark injured his left wrist by over preparing for a tournament in Wilmington. You know how you can run too much? Well, you can play tennis too much. And he did. But of course, Mark played the tournament anyway.
His wrist hurt. Really badly.
Walking off the court, Mark thought this might be the last time I play tennis for a very long time. He thought that he was facing six months to a year off before the ligaments in his wrist would heal. Even worse, he might need surgery. What would he do without tennis? He considered running for exercise. Maybe get a gym membership. But that’s like telling a runner to switch to pool jogging. It’s not the same.
The summer and fall were starting to look very bleak. I could hear the disappointment and frustration in my brother’s voice over the phone. He was crushed.
Mark decided life without tennis wasn’t really an option. Then he made three crucial decisions: 1) take time off, 2) seek treatment and 3) figure out how to keep playing tennis.
Mark took two weeks completely off from playing tennis.
This is not something to glance over. I’ve had to take a couple weeks off from running and I can tell you right now — I’m not a fun person to be around.
Mark knew the time off would be tough, but a short time away from tennis would be better than playing through the pain and prolonging the healing process. So he committed to two weeks completely no tennis.
Then he sought treatment for his wrist.
Mom and I independently encouraged Mark to find an acupuncturist. We both had positive experiences with acupuncture for ligament injuries and tendinitis. Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine that stimulates specific points on the body by inserting thin needles through the skin. I could write an entire article about acupuncture v. dry needling (and maybe I will… I’ve had both forms of treatment), but I’m telling you, acupuncture cured my tendinitis. And, I will represent to you that acupuncture is significantly helping Mark’s wrist injury.
OBSTACLES TO OPPORTUNITY
Finally, Mark had to figure out how to keep playing tennis.
So he switched to doubles.
Singles and doubles are two totally different games. Singles — you’re responsible for every single ball, in control of the entire court. Doubles — you have a partner, play the net more, drop shots and lobs will make or break you and (as my old coach would say) “down the middle solves the riddle.” Ball placement, strategy, level of intensity — all different in singles v. doubles.
Mark has always played singles. It’s his thing. To be honest, he did not think he would enjoy doubles as much. But if it worked, if playing doubles didn’t hurt his wrist, at least he could still play tennis. So Mark gave it a shot.
Not only can he play doubles without his wrist hurting, he loves it!
Since he started playing doubles, Mark has met so many new tennis friends in Wilmington. Before the injury, Mark was in a routine playing the same handful of players throughout the year. Not necessarily a bad thing. But now, he has a different partner and new set of opponents every time he hits the court. A couple weeks ago he played against a talented 16 year old whose partner was a 62 year old and ranked top 3 in the nation for his age group. The “rolodex” of tennis players from which he now pulls in Wilmington has greatly expanded.
Also, turns out Mark’s really good at doubles. He played in the NC NTRP State Tournament 4.5 in late July. He and his partner played a hard fought, close match against the 4.5 player who won the singles tournament, and Mark and his partner won!!
The prize was a bottle of wine with this quote:
Success in life comes when you simply refuse to give up, with goals so strong that obstacles, failure, and loss only act as motivation.
Mark’s story is an excellent example of what happens when you simply refuse to give up. Obstacles, injuries, setbacks, failure — they will come and they will go. How you respond is what matters.
Instead of dwelling on the injury, Mark focused on moving forward and working through the obstacle. He took necessary time off, sought treatment and made the best of a setback. What he found? Opportunity. Mark discovered that he really enjoys doubles. Even when his wrist fully heals, when he gets back to playing singles, Mark says he will continue to play doubles on a weekly basis. He loves it that much.
So next time you are faced with an obstacle or your world looks bleak, focus on how you can move froward, work through it. More times than not, opportunity is waiting for you on the other side.
The Baddour family has a tradition of playing tennis during our week-long beach trip to Kure Beach for the 4th of July every year. Mark, Carey, David and Neil play at least 4 times throughout the week. We always find a day when the other tennis players in the fam can join. Here’s a pic from this summer. Mark was so worried he wouldn’t be able to play on this trip, but fortunately his wrist held up and we had a blast!
See you out there.