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Watching and playing sports are my favorite ways to spend time. In elementary school, I started watching major tennis tournaments on TV. I was fascinated and couldn’t wait to try it myself. I took a recreational class during the summer and discovered that I thoroughly enjoyed it. Tennis is constant motion with a lot of running. As I am a fast runner my speed improves my skill. I love that tennis can be a lifelong sport, and I hope to play it all my life. 

My instructor saw my talent and suggested more advanced classes. My family took a risk and joined a club so that I would have an opportunity to play at a higher level. They paid a lot of money to give me a chance, not even certain it would work out.

Not knowing what to expect made me feel nervous. On the first day of class, I did not know anybody but my parents thought joining the club might help me make some new friends. I had a hard time making friends because I don't have many kids my age in my neighborhood. Sometimes I was very lonely and did not have many people to talk to, but I grew a deeper relationship with my family. 

It seemed that a lot of the other kids in the class knew each other because they had been taking lessons together for several years. Fortunately, I noticed a boy wearing a baseball cap with a logo just like mine. 

“Where did you get your hat from?” I asked.

“It’s my baseball team hat.”

“What team do you play on?” He told me that he played in my baseball league, and from that point on, we had something in common, a connection, and I had someone. 

Quinn and I talked every day at tennis class. I stayed by his side, and the class was more fun. We quickly developed a friendship and as time passed, we learned that we have very similar personalities. We both like talking about the latest sports news and enjoy staying up late at night. We are interested in the same types of food and often order the same menu item. I knew that he had barely any friends in his neighborhood, and he was often lonely too. So we started hanging out together after tennis class. A whole world of fun opened up. We stayed for lunch and swimming, jumped on trampolines at Sky Zone, and hung out. In the mornings before tennis, we would play video games, and he introduced me to some of his friends in our class.          

In the end, I learned that taking a risk pays off. Joining the club was a big risk for my family and I’ll always be grateful that they gave me this opportunity. Starting a conversation meant pushing myself to talk to someone new but making a great friend was a huge reward. Beyond friendship, I’ve found that when I play tennis, it feels like nothing else matters in the world. It’s relaxing because it helps me take my mind off other situations. Through this experience, I’ve learned that you shouldn’t be afraid to put yourself out there and make a conversation because the stranger you are talking to or the sport you try may be a perfect match.

© Brad Forrest. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.