Another Rising Teenage Tennis Star

I watched a 22 year old play an 18 year old in a tennis Masters quarterfinal tonight. I marveled at the exuberance and the energy of their youth. No water under their bridges. No financial ups and downs in their short pro careers. No body systems had aged, only matured. Their minds were like sponges. Their systems all worked beautifully and in synchrony. They were enjoying the enormous athletic gifts that gave make their games exceptional. The two of them were consistently hitting shots most humans might not hit in a lifetime.

Rightfully, their first set came down to a decider, a tie breaker. The first player to seven wins a tiebreaker but he or she must win by at least two points. Therefore it may take more than seven points to prevail.

One player got just a little tighter than the other. It cost him. He found himself serving from behind at 3 to 6 and lost that point losing the first set.

Tennis is a game I played for 50 years. It was joyous. Given the pace I could not worry and still make the next shot. One of my systems was aging faster than the others and it ended my tennis life.

Now I find peace writing about other players like this eighteen year old who won the deciding set number two. He was overpowering in that set. His name, Felix Auger-Aliassime. If you haven’t seen him, this young man can PLAY.

Tiafoe’s Rise Continues

And so the sports journalists tell the story of a rising U.S. tennis player whose family is from Sierra Leone. His father was doing the maintainance for a College Park, Maryland tennis venue. In his childhood Frances Tiafoe was gradually drawn to this beautiful sport. He developed speed, power and most critically grit.

And then came the winter and spring of his content. In January he turned 21. He went deep into the Australian Open draw. Last night Frances won a “war” with a man who had won over $30 million in prize money and had just beaten the 2nd seed at the Miami Open, David Ferrer. David won the first set giving him a distinct edge to swing more freely. He did so, but, Frances Tiafoe did him one better and convincingly defeated him in the last two sets.

Today “Big Foe” continued his superb effort in the round of 16 defeating David Goffin of Belgium. After years I think we have an American man with a distinctly viable shot at a major championship. I say this because he has all the tools: power and location on the serve, strength off both wings, speed, quickness and grit/courage. May his journey be blessed with good health and good fortune.

Refreshment in the Gym

I am 73 and have done weight or resistance training for five years. It relieves my tension. It has favorably changed my physique.

The weight training has become integral to my six day a week regimen that includes aerobics and stretching as well. I need to read books on my cellphone to stay engaged on a bike or treadmill, but when I lift or stretch I am engaged in two sources of complete relaxation in and of themselves. I structure those six days around my workouts that also include tai chi for balance.

From my own point of view it is self destructive to avoid the gym as your mind and body without question benefit from the effort as you age. Every system in your body ages. To slow down that train is a Godsend.

The Death of Santini by Pat Conroy, a Book Review

I have read in other non-fiction that there were times commanders needed a subpopulation of soldiers who were killers. A characteristic of firefights is that most soldiers can’t be sure their bullets have found a home. Apparently the killers don’t mind knowing.

Pat Conroy’s dad, a fighter pilot, who names himself the Great Santini after a daring gymnast, was a killer. Pat notes in the book, “Because he was a fighter pilot of immense gifts, he was also born to kill.”

The author further notes, “What made Dad’s temper dangerous was its volatility and unpredictable nature. Anything could set it off and no weatherman in the world could track its storm warnings. His blue eyes were born to hate.” Mr. Conroy describes the father’s physical and emotional abuse of his wife and seven children through much of the book. The sad result for the Conroy family per Pat Conroy: ” I was the oldest of seven children; five of us would try to kill ourselves before the age of forty.”

It takes Conroy years to forgive and draw closer to his father. He ends the book with his eulogy to his father which praises his heroism as a fighter pilot in three wars.

The beauty of the memoir is that it examines the great complexity for the author of loving someone like his father. It makes for depth, drama and growth in this intimate history of the troubled life of the late Pat Conroy.

The Golden Calf of an “Elite Education”

Sadly 50 people were indicted by the Justice Department, per announcements this morning, because of bribery and money laundering to get their individual children into several “elite schools.” Apparently it has become worth a potential jail sentence to get one’s child into an elite school in the eyes of these wealthy people. In addition there were a number of school administrators and coaches willing to go along with the felony.

I understand the desire to want your child to “succeed.” But elite schools must be the new golden calf to some to put themselves at the risk of federal prosecution.

Of course as a result of the bribery hard working, fully qualified candidates were rejected from elite schools. The injustice is tragic. The worship of this golden calf is tragic as well.

Of course the rapidly escalating cost of a college education in and of itself relates to the worship of this sector of the economy. It seems doubly important today to focus on loving God and others in this land of so called higher education.