Time for “The HA!!” – This is my mini-series on life lessons I’ve gained through my humbling sports endeavors… I LOVE sports but genuinely suck at most of them, and, therefore, I’m a “HA = Humbled Athlete.” Please check out the other posts in this series at THE HA!! page.

Martina Hingis anticipating the next shot

Martina Hingis anticipating the next shot

I think if one word could sum up the spirit of the New Year, or the future in general, it would be anticipation. So I started to look into “anticipation” and found out that much of this forward thinking revolves around negative feelings. For example, I went to brainy quote to find something inspiring and got lost in an overload of negative mantra. I didn’t really get that, the pessimism of “Anticipation” … Then I ran across a quote by Martina Hingis, one of my all-time favorite tennis players:

“I have good anticipation, and good reaction to the ball because I’ve played so many matches in my life.”

It’s all about applying our experience in learning how to focus on our objective. In Martina’s case, hitting the ball accurately and being ready for a return. Thanks Martina for this positive feeling about anticipation. Call it eager anticipation.

If you watch a tennis match try this: fix your eyes on just one player, instead of watching the ball. Why? You’ll see that professional tennis players, the best of the best, actually don’t run around the court all that much. Like Martina, these other pros know, through anticipation, where to position themselves before their opponent strikes the ball. Depending on the situation, their ideal position on the court may be purely defensive, or they may take a risk and go on the offensive, attacking in an effort to finish the point.

This bit of strategy used by the pros is no secret to the seasoned player. I used to play tennis on a country club mens doubles league in Jacksonville. This was as much a social event as a competitive endeavor, and the team that I played on was a “C Team” (“A” being the best, there was no “D” team… you get the picture?). It was lots of fun, I played for several years before having problems with my knees and retiring the tennis racket, about 10 years ago. Here’s the really interesting (and relevant) part: We played matches every weekend, and some of the best players in our league were some really old guys. Why? Well, they didn’t hit the ball really hard, that’s for sure, but they did these two things really, really well:

  • They hit the ball where they wanted it to go, with precision and accuracy, and
  • they were experts at anticipation. They knew exactly where to be for the next return/volley.

Why did these older guys play so well and win so many matches? They, just like Martina, had good anticipation because they had played so many matches in their lifetime. At the time Martina made her quote, she was on top of the world. However, she recognized that it wasn’t her excellent physical condition that allowed her to have anticipation… it was her experience. The same would be true for the older guys in our country club league. They had our respect because they knew how to play their game. Tennis. I could have smoked them at a distance race, but this was a tennis court. They owned it, so to speak. And, for the most part, the older guys did it with grace and style. I have always admired that of people… those who were better than me at something, and were humble about it. Very cool. I think of Martina in that way too…

Moving forward into the new year… I have no clue what God has in store, but I do know that His purpose and plan are always way better than mine. And while being transformed into the likeness of Jesus will have its challenges, I want to “serve and volley” each and every day with eager anticipation… making a racket about the Good News… and ace every opportunity to show God’s love and kindness to everyone who crosses my path.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” Psalm 32:8

How can you utilize the idea of “eager anticipation” today and throughout the new year?

Photo courtesy of Bill Mitchell via Wikipedia