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Playing Tennis Without a Court

Pelé, the greatest soccer player ever (according to many), was so poor as a youth that his parents couldn’t even afford to buy him a ball. What did he do? Since he’s Pelé, and Pelé is awesome, we know he didn’t let poverty get in his way.  Instead of using a real ball he used what he had on hand, grapefruits and socks stuffed with debris, as the story goes.  He spent countless hours in front of his home, in the dirt, gently dribbling these grapefruits so as to not break them.  His practice consisted of kicked whatever kickable object he found lying about. It should act as a lesson to the rest of us about getting things done in life.  Nike’s slogan is not only catchy and memorable but is also spot-on true.  There is also a notable example in the world of tennis of a boy with nothing, using whatever tools he had on hand, to learn the game.  You do not have to be rich or have the best facilities and equipment to become great.

The story of Mansour Bahrami is one of my favorites.  When he was young he worked at a tennis complex in Tehran, Iran.  However, he was not allowed on the court to play, just to work.  He longed to play, but his only racquet was smashed, and he was beaten by a guard who caught him when he once attempted to sneak onto a court.  With no racquet and no opportunity he learned the game using nothing but loose ends like frying pans and broom handles.  Finally, when it seemed his tennis career was finally getting somewhere, the Islamic revolution happened and deemed Tennis an evil, western, capitalist import and closed down all the courts.  Bahrami was stuck.  Don’t worry; the story has a happy ending.  You should look him up to learn more.  In fact, here’s a link to his website.

The Dream Doesn’t Die Until you Say it Does

The Islamic Revolution may have had one thing right.  Tennis is certainly, right or wrong, a sport that is played primarily by the financially elite (or at least well off). There must be people out there who love and want to play tennis but who think they can’t because they’re poor.  It’s a fact that being poor is a handicap for participation in recreational activities.  But, it is equally true that where there is a will there is a way.  Just look at Pelé and Mansour Bahrami.  You just have to know what you want and go for it.  It isn’t easy, but nothing worth doing is.

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