Agassi: tennis reflects life

As a tennis player, my view of the world has been pretty narrow at times. It’s like seeing the world within four fences around a tennis court. In his acclaimed memoir André Agassi reflects on tennis as a ‘lifetime in miniature’. And he has a point. Seeing life through a tennis filter. Perhaps it’s to be anticipated after hundreds of thousands of hours on court.

His autobiography, Open discusses this microcosm of life, and it’s a heck of a read:

It’s no accident, I think, that tennis uses the language of life. Advantage, service, fault, break, love, the basic elements of tennis are those of everyday existence, because every match is a lifetime in miniature. Even the structure of tennis, the way the pieces fit inside one another like Russian dolls, mimics the structure of our days. Points become games become sets become tournaments, and it’s all so tightly connected that any point can become the turning point. It reminds me of the way seconds become minutes become hours, and any hour can be our finest. Or darkest. It’s our choice.

As a ‘tennis obsessive’, I wonder: Maybe there is more to life than tennis? So next long weekend I might give tennis a miss. Cast the competitive instinct aside for a few days and chill out. Go camping, catch a fish, relax. Sit by a campfire and meditate on the state of the world, without tennis. Nothing combative. A world of nature where the universe is in harmony. Ahhhhhh. Now that’s the life! Peace and goodwill to all.

And it will give me time to write some notes for my own memoir, instead of working on other people’s life stories all the time. I will indulge in some serious introspection! Because it’s a growing thing anyway – as we write we find out about ourselves. It is self-discovery.

All I need is some self-discipline. Simply to sit (Bryce Courtenay called it ‘bum-glue’) and concentrate and get into the rhythm of the words. I love getting on a writing roll.

Mmmm, but I might miss the adrenaline that a tournament provides. Be bored out of my brain . . . I’d miss the old tennis mates – the camaraderie, and those wonderful tennis legs! (I would miss those.)

On second thought, I might leave the memoir on the back-burner for a little longer; and Google tennis tournaments. See what comes up, or log on to Tennis Seniors. There might be some events that take my fancy. I suppose one needs to maintain reputation and ranking, and there’s always fitness and health to consider. Real grass courts would be nice.

Mark Koehler (founder, LifeStoryWriting.com.au)