In the past four years, I have lived in five places: New York, Sweden, Missouri, Chicago and now Decatur. Like my mom always says, “You go where the job is.” Decatur is smack dab in the middle of Illinois. You may have heard of it because it’s the original home of the Chicago Bears, a/k/a the Decatur Staleys. Once boasting a population of about 120,000, it has now dwindled to around 80,000 people, claiming the state’s highest unemployment rate and the smelliest factories. Yet, I am happy to call it home. I am away from my friends and family, but slowly the unknown has become the known. What has always eased my transition? Sports. I sought out a tennis pro in the town because I wanted something to do outdoors on my days off that could keep me in shape. I am a state high school champ in tennis, and I have always used it as cross training for softball. As frustrating as tennis can be, it makes me happy.
So how ironic when I heard that Decatur is one of 13 tournament sites for the US Open qualifier. Immediately upon hearing this news, I contacted my tennis coach here, responsible for bringing the tournament to the city and asked him if I could enter. He said yes. Ever since I was a little girl, it’s been my dream to play in the U.S. Open. Growing up, I would play tennis with my dad on our hometown courts and envision a crowd around us. I could hear the roar when I hit a good shot and the silence when I missed. He became my championship opponent, myself, a world-class tennis pro. Now is my chance to make that dream come true.
I haven’t played a tennis match in more than eight years, since high school, yet I’m unafraid. I’m not worried. Instead, I’m working my butt off. I’m a competitive person and when I have my mind set on a goal, I do anything and everything to accomplish it. When I dream, I dream big. I want to win this tournament.
I have started a diary documenting everything I eat. Everything I practice. Everything I learn. I will continue to document my experience through this blog. I wrote about my time playing professional softball in Sweden. Now I must ace my other passion: tennis. I have three months until this tournament. Let the countdown begin.
Every day is used to improve my tennis game, whether it’s through singles stragety or foot work drills. I can neither predict nor control what happens when I step on the court in June, but what I can control is my preparation. I want to know that every day leading up to this tournament I did my best. No regrets. No looking back.
It feels refreshing to be working towards a goal again. I have missed that feeling of working out and training with a purpose. Now is my time. I’m doing this for me and for “love” of the game.