|My new philosophy?|
Well, I'm not going to even pretend that he's an Andy Murray in the making, but he enjoys tennis and plays quite nicely, and did well in the squad. So, more recently we decided the time was right to enter him into an LTA mini tennis tournament. The coach felt he needed to play people better than him, rather than the same children (mainly younger) that he can comfortably beat at his weekly lesson.
So a few weeks ago we duly trekked off to the other side of London to this tournament, but the moment we arrived I realised that (as usual) I had done my classic thing of Not Taking It Quite Seriously Enough (TM). For a start, there were kids there with Proper Tennis Bags containing three different rackets, dressed in the kind of white jackets you might see Djokovic arriving on court in. Littleboy1, in his American soccer t-shirt, ratty fleece and racquet in a plastic holder, already looked out of place, and as I watched him knock up with some boys I realised immediately there was no way he would be able to beat anyone there.
To be fair, it was his first tournament and his LTA ranking was lower than that of anyone else there (your rankings improve as you play and win more matches). But I could tell that these boys were far more experienced, and had the kind of shots he just wasn't used to returning, having never played anyone that good (he's played me, but I am rubbish). Poor Littleboy 1 looked pretty frightened as he faced his first opponent -- a tiny child who served ace after unreturnable ace, and made short work of Littleboy1 's own serve-- and things didn't get much better after that.
Although by the end of the match he'd managed to notch a few games, he didn't beat anyone and it must have been pretty disappointing for him. But he was fairly stoic, and I did notice that he upped his game considerably towards the end so it must have been good experience. (Some of the other kids there took it all tremendously seriously, sobbing when they didn't win; he didn't do that).
But I am just not sure I could become a proper tennis mother, trotting off to tournaments like this every weekend. I've got a lot of admiration for the likes of Judy Murray who must be so determined that their children succeed -- and she must feel pretty amazing when two of her sons are in a Grand Slam Final. However, I am well aware that most tennis mothers will never experience that feeling: only the gruelling competition, and the heartache of losing time and time again tempered only by a fleeting few victories.
And what if your child decides, at the age of 18, that they never want to pick up a tennis racquet again? And you've spent years of your life devoting Saturdays to standing around on the sidelines of tennis clubs in the drizzle (yes, tennis is a year-round sport, even in England).
We're not going to give up on it quite yet; he's going to try a slightly easier tournament next time, with people more his own level. We've also found a friend to play with who is slightly better but doesn't demolish him, and I think that will be good practice too.
But somehow I can't imagine that I'll be sitting up in the players' box at Wimbledon in ten years time, having my outfits scrutinized and appearing on Strictly Come Dancing. And that's absolutely fine with me.