As Many Benefits as Hairs on Buddy's Back

There are as many benefits to tennis as their are yellow hairs on Buddy the Ball's back... ok maybe that's an exaggeration. This may come as a shock to you, but after 20 years of playing tennis, I still don't know how many hairs are on a tennis ball, or how many licks it takes to get to the center of one... wait, that's for lollipops. Oops.

Anyways, tennis is FUN, FUNny, FUNtastic, FUNtacular, and most importantly.. FUNtabulous! But there are still so many people out in the world that do not know about this awesomely amazing sport/activity/hobby/career/exercise/game/network/challenge/opportunity/adventure. Now you know why the books are called "The ADVENTURES of Buddy the Ball." Though I cannot sit here and tell you that every single moment that I spent on the painted concrete slab was uplifted by the cheering admiration of millions of fans (in fact not a single moment was like that), I can tell you that today, my tennis story walks with me into each and every moment of my life.

More than that, my experience with tennis, is a deep, full basket of hundreds of yellow, bright, fuzzy, bouncy balls of stored energy waiting to be picked out and served across the net of consciousness into the court of life. Each ball is like a piece of my own magic puzzle... ok, let's get to the point.

I am writing this message to tell everyone who has any interest in tennis - child, adult, parent, student, teacher, or Division 1 college athlete - that there are many, many SIGNIFICANT benefits to playing tennis. I am not a scientist or doctor or guru, but when I think of happiness and health, I think of four key areas: the mind, the body, the heart, and the soul (mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual). I will now tell you how tennis serves (pun intended) all of these fundamental aspects of the human life.

The Mind:
Whether you are trying to become the next Roger Federer or you simply don't care what part of the racket hits the ball as long as the ball goes towards your friend on the other side who has an equally lackadaisical approach to the activity, tennis can help your mind. The brain is a muscle which needs time for both exercise and rest. For those of you with the ponytail, headband, Nike underwear, 19-racket tennis bag, and electrolyte-superfood-bio-eco-soy-power-juice... tennis is probably a time for exercising the mind. Which is AWESOME! For those of you wearing flip flops, jeans, aviators and swatting a 200 year old gray Dunlop ball that your grandmother gave you before you left the house with a metal racket that has been bent into a square... tennis is probably a time to rest your mind. Which is AWESOME too! And... if you are somewhere in between... I leave it up to you. You have the free will to choose which tennis mind serves you in each moment. I'd recommend trying each at least once.

The Body:
Using the same spectrum as above (yes, the one with Fed and the flops), tennis has a similar range of physical benefits. I can tell you from my personal experience that playing tennis all throughout my childhood, adolesence, and young adulthood kept my body very strong, flexible, and healthy. Though my grandmother would yell at me and tell me that I needed to eat more because "I was too skinny", I am truly grateful for the thousands of hours that I was able to expresss the agility, endurance, speed, and strength that our miraculous bodies can offer us. Especially, at a time where people - kids mostly, sorry Gen Z but it's true - are spending more and more time inside, sitting behind a screen; getting up and moving around is critically important. And again, you don't have to pull a John Isner and get wrapped into a 3-day, 10-set, 72,000-point match to give your body what it needs.

The Heart:
Aahhhh the heart, the emotions; such as me yelling, "Buddy the Ball... I looooovveeee youuuuu!" Tennis teaches you about feelings. Whether you start crying during your match because you have lost to the person you are playing 10 times and it seems like there is nothing you can do to stop it going to 0-11; or you are so embarrassed that your stomach drops into your shoes because after driving you to another state for a tennis match, your mom finds out the morning of the match that you didn't string your rackets because you were too busy playing video games the night before; or you are jumping as high as you physically can, singing at the top of your lungs because you are so overjoyed that your #3 high school doubles team just won the point that gives your whole team the state championship title; or you tell your college tennis coach that out of 18 other teammates you only want to play doubles with one guy because he gives you the courage to play your best tennis no matter the result. Play tennis. Give your heart an opportunity to feel all of these things and more, you will thank you for it.

The Soul:
One of my truly favorite things, that I ALWAYS remember about my experience with tennis, was that I was outside ALL THE TIME. In Las Vegas, being outside means seeing a cloudless blue sky, it means feeling the warm sun on every inch of your body, and it means looking miles across the desert to see enormous mountains exploding up from the ground. It is my belief, that this is the realm of the spirit. Our Earth, our nature, is all around us and so influential in its effects on our lives. Playing tennis, wherever it is, if you are outside, engaging with the Earth around you, you are nourishing your soul. And if you can't play outside (because it is raining or snowing or some other lame excuse, just kidding those are real reasons not to play tennis outside), then go play inside. You may have not figured this out yet, but tennis is not an individual sport; therefore, another human - another SOUL - will have to agree to go on this adventure with you. Talk, laugh, don't laugh, don't talk. Just be. Your souls will figure it out.

There you have it, the benefits of tennis. Looking back, I just wish Buddy's face was on every tennis ball that I ever picked up, gosh that would have made me smile every time. Thank you Buddy.