Growing up in Clanton, Alabama I (Graham) loved playing tennis. It was mostly among my friends and to some point I actually considered myself good. We used to play until midnight, talking trash, doing flybys (mimicking the famous soccer celebration) whenever we won a game or a set. Obviously we did not have much court etiquette but we thought our incredible ability made up it.
I thought I was good until I played The Jason Lankford. Being in separate countries for two years, we often talked about coming to Wake Forest and doing life together. I had mentioned playing doubles tennis, and he said, “we’ll see”. I was offended. “Who does this chump think he is?” I thought.
Then we came to Wake Forest and played. I wasn’t offended anymore.
To say he smoked me would be an understatement. It was as if he had magic and by the movement of his tennis wand he could direct the ball where he willed. He was on a different level, a different planet than I was.
Well, we start playing more and more, and my confidence grew . The goal was just to get the ball back to him, which led to relatively long rallies. These rallies would eventually deceive me into thinking I was getting up to his level, then all of a sudden the ball would defy the law of physics going so fast and so low that I just stood there frozen as it landed perfectly on the line. It was as if he got bored with my silliness and wanted to remind me that he was the Great Tennis Magician.
This I call the “Reminder Shot.”
The Reminder Shot happens in every sphere of life and in this season it happens with School, specifically Greek. It is like I get more and more confidence with each semester of Greek, with each passage translated, but then I encounter a fellow student or a teacher who just Reminds me that they are on a different playing field.
The Reminder Shot happens often and is always humbling but I am still thankful. I will never get any better unless I play others better than myself, and put myself around those who will challenge my ability.
*P.S. Pete Sampras was my favorite player growing up and my best friend’s favorite was Andre Agassi. Hence that awesome photo.