By Gloria Son, Women's Tennis

I am shaking.

I am nervous.

I take a sip of water, trying to quench my dry throat.

The air in Lichtenberg Tennis Center is warm and quiet—too heavy for my current anxiety-ridden mind.

The people in the crowd intently stare at me and Kirby as if we are two rare species in a zoo. I can tell they are trying to send us good energy, or maybe even bad karma. The handful of parents who are still so inclined to watch their kids play in college are watching with critique and angst as they’ve done for so many years. Half of them are sporting Navy gear while the other half are rocking Army—quite literally a painting of black, gold, white, and blue. Out of the corner of my eyes I see Kirby’s parents, mostly her mom, Mrs. Einck. She has the look of the cliché “tennis parent”, standing ever-so confidently and proudly above the courts yet sporting a hint of the nervous jitters watching her daughter play an important match. Everyone is too tense, so I look away. In the moment, my mind is sharp, but my body seems eternities away. My racquet feels heavy too. At the bench, Coach M’s voice is distant. She’s telling us to: “…hit it to their backhand…Glo, you need to step in and stick your volley…the darker hair is the weaker player…Kirby serve to…”.

The umpire calls: “TIME!”

I snap back and look Coach in her eyes. Despite not hearing a word she said, I knew exactly what she wanted us to do. In the end, it’s just a game, right? It’s just tennis? I flash a nod, trying to muster up a quick “ok, Coach” but instead, I am forced to swallow the saliva-build up in my mouth. Kirby and I bump one last fist pump with Coach M as we quickly scurry away from the player’s bench onto our side of the court. I remembered my younger years, loving the spotlight and hoping everyone would watch me play. But in this moment, I felt like throwing up instead. This was an important match and I didn’t want to let my coaches and my team down. And most of all, I didn’t want to let my doubles partner, Kirby, down. Read more.

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