Sometimes I like to think that I came into this world with a baseball mitt already on my hand.
My dad grew up just outside of Kansas City, and used to fall asleep listening to radio broadcasts of Royals games.
He most definitely passed along his love for baseball, as well as the crippling emotional trauma that usually goes with being a Royals fan.
We never had any problem bonding over a game of catch. I grew to really enjoy the impromptu coaching sessions that happened from tee-ball up through high school.
I loved baseball because it’s a magnificent game, and because of the strong bond that it had created between father and son.
Bonding with mom was different, though. She isn’t the type to sit down on the couch and watch a baseball game just because it happens to be on.
Sure, she still keeps score whenever we go to a game as a family, but she doesn’t enjoy the game with the same kind of obsessive passion that my dad and I have.
What really makes my mom tick is tennis.
I discovered this passion while I was in middle school many years ago. I remember walking downstairs one morning in the middle of summer to find my mom watching Wimbledon.
I’d never seen her so engrossed in a sport before, so I decided to investigate.
“What’s this?” I asked.
“Who’s that?” Such naivety!
And with that, she must have known that she could snare me. She went on to explain that Sampras was one of the greatest that the game has ever seen, and that he dominated at Wimbledon.
I sat down to watch the rest of the match, interested to watch greatness in action. I don’t remember much else, except the match ended the only way it could have, with a Sampras victory.
As I got up, my mom asked if I wanted to watch again the next day.
“Wait a minute, they play on back-to-back days?”
Just like baseball! I was hooked.
Over the years, my interest in tennis has grown. I had to keep up with my mom, so we started watching all of the majors together. Thanks to her love of tennis, I got to witness some great tennis.
We saw Sampras v. Agassi, a young Andy Roddick take home the US Open, and most of the early Williams sisters’ matches.
With all the tennis we were watching, it was only natural that we’d start playing. Everybody in the family got a racket and we’d make the five-minute walk to the nearest courts two or three times a week, enjoying a little fresh air and friendly competition.
I kept playing with family and friends during high school, but the constant use of my racket was beginning to take its toll. It started to lose its shape, the grip had long since become unwrapped, and strings were starting to go.
I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it because the racket was still usable, but my mom must have noticed. I left school one afternoon, headed to play some tennis with a couple of friends, and discovered a brand-new racket sitting in the front seat of my car, put there by the same woman who got me playing in the first place.
That racket still gets a healthy amount of use in the summers, and even though I’ve been out of the house for the past few years, my mom and I still find time to talk about tennis. She found herself unable to watch last year’s epic Wimbledon final, so I found myself texting her updates during every set.
This mother’s day, take some time to call your mom, give her a hug, and remember some of the great moments she’s given you over the years. Me? I think I’ll call mom and let her know that the French Open is just around the corner.
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