In the last article, I discussed Five Dating Conversation Tips for Shy People. Now I will discuss what I’ve learned from tennis, and how these lessons apply to dating.
Dating and Tennis #7: In dating, you don’t need to go out of your way to impress people.
Sweeping gestures or a fat wallet may woo someone in the early stages of dating, but a relationship needs substance to back up the hype. In high school, it was easy to be impressed by the cute baseball player, but for serious dating, I realized that I’d rather spend time with the quiet band geek or the studious editor of the school paper. I am not implying that athletes cannot be intelligent or engaging, only that other people may grow on you during the process of dating.
Pete Sampras, arguably the greatest tennis player of all time, maintained his world number one ranking in tennis without a lot of pomp and circumstance. A well-rounded all-court tennis player with a big serve, Sampras showed little emotion on the tennis court. During interviews he was modest about his victories and gave credit to his opponents when it was due. Though Sampras came across as boring at times, no one can deny that he always got the job done, and he did it with class. While I enjoy flashy tennis players like Andy Roddick or Novak Djokovic, it’s the quietly diligent, understated players like Sampras, Roger Federer, and Justin Henin who maintained the most consistent level of excellence in tennis.
Dating and Tennis #6: In dating, don’t be afraid to show vulnerability.
While perfection may be impressive, vulnerability has its place in dating. Vulnerability keeps us honest and humble. During the process of dating, all you can do is try to be the best version of yourself. Dating is a continual process of learning and growth. If you’re compatible, you’ll help each other grow.
Goran Ivanisevic was a brilliant but flawed tennis player. Phenomenal on grass courts, left-handed Ivanisevic had arguably the greatest serve in tennis history. Yet his worst opponent was himself. Ivanisevic would regularly reach the finals at Wimbledon only to choke. Then he would top it off by throwing his racket and cursing in Croatian. Being his fan was painful at times, but Ivanisevic was not afraid to show vulnerability. We all loved him for his imperfection because it made him human.
Dating and Tennis #5: Watch what you say. It could come back to haunt you.
It may be tempting to dish on your exes, but be careful. Gossip and negative talk have a way of coming back to you, sabotaging your chances with the person you’re currently dating. If your date hears about the drama with your ex, he could get the wrong impression about you. Word travels quickly, and people have a way of twisting what you say. If you gossip, your words might later be construed as petty or spiteful.
Serena Williams, the flashy tennis phenom, has her detractors as well as her admirers. After losing the 2007 Wimbledon Quarterfinals to Justine Henin, Serena Williams explained that she was not playing at 100% and that Henin had scored on “lucky shots.” Many tennis fans were turned off by what they perceived as poor sportsmanship. I’m not suggesting that she lie or kiss up to her opponent, but there were better ways to get her point across. For example, she could have said that while Henin had played well, Williams did not play her best tennis that day.
To find out the top four things tennis has taught me about dating, stay tuned for part II!