Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Georgia on my mind - and under my feet...

I am sitting at the desk of Suite 101 at the Homewood Suites in Macon, Georgia. It's my fifth night here. Two nights left. Nope, I haven't been condemned, sentenced, and banished to middle Georgia for a week of 90+ degree heat. Come to think of it - this wouldn't be a terrible place to send someone who deserved banishment to a very hot place for what feels like an eternity...

It's my son's fault. This tennis-playing phenom I adore and his doubles partner are on the move. Tomorrow they compete in the 14s boys finals double match in the Southern Closed Tournament. Nine states are represented here - North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Kentucky. And these two unseeded underdogs (CORRECTION: My son informed me that they were seeded 9th) will play in the finals tomorrow.

So here I sit. Alone in my room. With Georgia on my mind, under my feet, and in my sweat-clogged pores. (After writing this, I'm gonna jump into the shower where some of Georgia's finest dirt will flow down the drain where it belongs.) Several tennis moms are talking and drinking wine in the hotel lobby. Not me. After five days and four nights, I'm tired of listening to discussions focused on teenagers and tennis. I'm tired of listening to tales of earlier tennis tournaments, other people's bratty kids, and how special our kids are - of course. Enough is enough. I'm sequestered in my room, surfing the net, reading two fantastic books (Halfway to Each Other: How a year in Italy brought our family home and How to Improve your marriage without talking about it - both HIGHLY recommended, by the way), journaling, talking on the phone with my husband, and every now and then, it hits me: my son is in the finals. Win or lose, he goes home with a trophy from the Southerns. Yahoo!!!!!!!

It's true; I've heard a lot of stories about tennis matches and cheating and broken rackets and heat exhaustion and divorce and the cost of travel, hotels, and meals out. I get it. I really get it. Then I sit back in my seat at the restaurant and look around the table of adults. I look over at the kids at their table. I find my son in the middle of the fray, and I smile. We get to watch our children play elite USTA junior tennis. These are kids who, most likely, will receive college scholarships to play tennis. Several of them have older siblings, cousins, and friends who are at schools like Yale and University of Southern California and Furman playing tennis. These are bright, strong, determined, happy kids - for the most part. They are healthy, friendly, polite (for all its problems, and there are many, the South does a pretty good job of raising polite kids) and ambitious. They compete against one another fiercely on the court and then play ping pong jokingly with one another off the court. We travel with our talented offspring from tournament to tournament all over the south and beyond, check into and out of hotels, watch top-notch tennis, and cart home several trophies each year. We eat well, we travel well, we live well.

We are enormously blessed.
We are enormously blessed.
We are enormously blessed.

I am deeply grateful. So very grateful.

I'm not much of a commentator, especially after the fact, but here goes. In order to get to today's semi- final match, Daniel and his partner, Jack, (who have never played doubles together before this tournament!) had to win three other doubles matches (CORRECTION: My son informed me that they had to win five matches to get to today's match. Somehow I forgot about two matches. What kind of tennis mom am I???), including one against the number 1 seeded team in the Southern region and another against the team that had won the Georgia Qualifying Tournament two weeks ago.

Today's match, however, was literally a heart-stopper for me. Daniel and Jack, were up 6-2 -> two games from victory because they play to see who wins 8 games first. Then they went down 6-7. My heart raced. My blood pressure rose. I held my breath. I prayed. I did the sign of the cross several times. None of which helped I don't think because the parents of the boys on the other side of the net were doing the exact same thing, so, in effect, we canceled each other out. Jack served 2 aces in a row. Then he double faulted. At that point, my heart stopped - and then it beat again, almost immediately, I think. My breaths became dangerously shallow. Then a blur of shots, volleys, deuce, ad in, deuce, ad out. And then it happened: we won. WE WON * 9-7! A roar went up from the crowd. Well, a roar went up from the two moms of the two winning players, Jack's little sister, and a few other folks standing around - most of whom just wanted to go find dinner someplace nearby before heading back to our respective hotels in order to wash Georgia dirt back into its rivers and lakes.

Tomorrow at 3:30 pm, they are scheduled to go on court for the final match.
But they might go on sooner if the other team is willing to start earlier.
I'm gonna cross my fingers and toes. I'm gonna wear my cross necklace.
I'm gonna sweat. I'm gonna pray. I'm gonna call on angels and archangels
and good fairies everywhere to carry our boys on the wings of love
all the way to the trophy table where they will receive
either the first place or the second place trophy.

UPDATE: Our boys lost the final match, 6-3, 6-3. (Two full sets are played in the finals.)
It was a good match at the end of a great run in the doubles.
I am quite the proud tennis momma.
For sure.


Melanie said...

Great post! I feel like I'm there & should be washing the Georgia dirt off me! So excited for your boy & praying that tomorrow is GREAT! Enjoy the ride!

Lisa said...

Love this post! Thanks for the play-by-play update!

My thoughts are with you... :)