I hate tennis. I hate the spring sport season. I hate the wind and I hate the rain. I hate waking up at five in the morning and conditioning before the sun is up just to do it all over again after school. So why do I always come running back to tryouts? Maybe for the moment I win that exhibition point. Maybe to feel the adrenaline rush when I see our doubles team make an amazing play. Or maybe I come back because the tennis team is my family. Tennis is an individual sport, and the individual wins the games. But it’s the team that wins the championships. When you’re in your head and thinking too hard about the strategies you try to play, it’s your team that brings you back to the court. Tennis has taught me two things: a. the spring sport season is always the worst and b. let people help you. When I was a fresh-faced junior, about to begin the college application process, I was absolutely positive I wouldn’t need help. However, I was absolutely wrong. When my dad passed away, I had the same mentality. I can handle it. I’m a big girl. I thought that I could keep up with making everyone laugh and having a good time so they’re not uncomfortable talking to someone whose parent passed away. But the reality of it all was that I needed someone to tell me it’s okay to not be okay. I became a robot; I forgot to enjoy how the air felt in my lungs and I forgot to enjoy my sister’s ridiculous laugh. I forgot how to talk about my pain and I forgot how to sleep through the night. I could tell you the Pythagorean Theorem in my sleep, but I didn’t dream anymore. I could recite the dates of battles backwards and forwards, but I forgot my best friend’s birthday. I know how every organ in the human body works, but I couldn’t tell you why my brain felt like it was about to shut off every time I came home. I could write an essay in twenty minutes or less, but I didn’t write poetry anymore. It became all too analyzed, broken down scrutinized; standardized tests created a standardized mind. And the worst part about it all was that even if I bubbled in every correct answer and won all the awards, it would all just have felt hollow because I had traded in my bones for brains, my sleep for As, my happiness for a final grade. There were stress fractures in my soul because I had forgotten what it meant to be worth more than my achievements. Tennis reminded me that the wind will blow and the rain will fall and the world will not stop for your bad days. But the most important thing tennis has ever taught me is to embrace the bad weather and pack a blanket.