Countless times throughout my life, I have heard people say, “Pfft, you play tennis? That’s so easy!” or “Tennis isn’t even a sport!”
In our modern American society, tennis players are often referred to as sissies, and tennis is known as a girls’ sport in general. Many Americans idolize the 300 pound, muscular, professional football players, or the 6’9” basketball players, but no one ever acknowledges tennis players and the game of tennis. People tend to believe that tennis is nothing more than tapping a ball back and forth over a net until one person misses.
However, having played tennis throughout my entire childhood, I have learned that tennis is one of the most demanding sports in the world, both physically and mentally. Sure, tennis does not involve physical contact like football or hockey, but this does not mean that it does not require any physical strength. After all, tennis players are constantly moving side-to-side, back-and-forth, retrieving shots that can exceed one hundred miles per hour. Not only are they retrieving these shots, but they are exerting all of their energy into each and every shot in order to return the tennis ball with as much power and finesse as possible. Also, between each point, tennis players only receive about twenty seconds of rest, whereas in Baseball and Football (America’s pastimes), athletes have several minutes of rest after just a few seconds of physical activity. Still, these games do not last nearly as long as most tennis matches. Professional tennis matches last anywhere between two and five hours, with the longest match in history lasting over eleven hours!
During these long, physically exhausting matches, players have no escape other than to quit or to lose. Unlike in most team sports, tennis players do not have the ability to hide behind more talented teammates, or to be replaced by a substitute if they are having an off-day. Once they enter a match, there is no outside help whatsoever. Players are forced think, strategize, and perform entirely on their own. This requires tennis players to have significant mental toughness, constantly remaining confident, focused, and relaxed.
Overall, the game of tennis requires nearly every attribute an athlete could desire. A skilled tennis player must have power, endurance, agility, speed, and mental strength. In my opinion, this clearly qualifies tennis as a sport, and a quite difficult sport as well.