I have tennis envy. Not because my little boy gets to play tennis all the time, but because he has found something that he loves to do at such a young age. Zane is now 8 and continues to live and breathe tennis. He has huge dreams, and we do our best to support and encourage him. He talks about playing in the US Open and shares great detail about himself on the court. The crowd cheering, his brother, and sisters watching. He even talks about having his big brother as his agent and buying him a Lamborghini (although he pointed the car out to us and it was a Toyota). Think big buddy, come what may. This year has represented many changes for our little baller. Zane began the year with a trip to Saddlebrook in Tampa, FL with his dad for his 8th birthday. He came back with a better comparison to other kids from around the world that are his age and a better idea of what skills he needed to develop further. We started him with a new coach, Rashid Hassan and it’s been a great transition. We enjoy Rashid’s positive and inspiring approach to success on the court. Rashid and the other coaches have taught Zane the correct way to hit top spin, and we have watched Zane quickly develop many skills that much older kids have. Rashid and his team continue to influence him in many ways, and we are incredibly thankful. From the little details like drinking water instead of sports drink to the bigger things like where to place the ball and when. At Frick Park at the beginning of spring, Zane played a 10 and under USTA tournament in Cleveland and won 3 out of 4 matches. Tournament play is very different from just hitting with your friends or competing at practice. For those that don’t know the game of tennis, you cannot receive coaching on the court. Our little boy is out there, on the court all alone. We are behind a glass wall, balconies, tree’s, benches, speechless, tummy aching with desire to help him when he is down. He has to pull himself together all by himself.
With Rashid’s great coaching and suggestions we only put him in one additional 10 and under tournament this year. The new 10 and Under game is not designed for Zane as he trains with regular balls, regular courts and lots of older kids. Zane started playing 12 and under tennis this spring, and it has been an enjoyable experience. To walk on that court as an 8-year-old, he has absolutely nothing to lose. At first, match after match he would go out there and just crush the ball, overhitting many balls but consistently hitting with strong pace and power. Rashid kept telling us just to let him go and soon enough those shots will start going in. Yes, he was right. Just like anything else in life, every tournament has been an excellent stepping stone for him to learn and by summer he started to win some matches. It is still so hard to sit up there and watch him. I can read every step, every hang of the head, every expression. I know when he is happy, sad, frustrated or confident by a simple movement of his body on the court. He thrives on growing, learning, improving and he never gives up. He fights to the last point, even when he is down to the last game. In one of his longer matches, he managed to break strings on both racquets. Zane found himself at match point borrowing a racquet from a great friend a court over to finish off this win. We are coming close to the end of the year, and Zane has now learned how to win. His powerful strokes are starting to now land within the lines. He is now looking at angles in each match for ways to win. He digs deep to find weaknesses in his opponents and then pounces like a tiger. A couple of weeks ago he won his first 12 and Under USTA Tournament winning three matches to win the back draw. We couldn’t be more proud of his determination and perseverance on and off the court. As a family we stand strong, supporting his passion. We pray for him to be humble yet confident…strong and powerful yet kind hearted. He is kind to his opponents and likes to play only fair. In his 10 and Under Championship round he overruled the line judge to give his opponent the point, which became match point and lost the next point. We could never be more proud of our 2nd place champion.