On an average, professional tennis players retire at around 27 years. But here I was, at 37, standing on a tennis court for the first time in my life. And, it wasn’t by choice either.
Cricket had always been the sport of choice for me. It was a sport that I played regularly through school and college.Then life happened. First job, then family, and then a start-up — all took priority. Sports got relegated to a happy, yet, an increasingly distant memory. Moving away from my hometown meant that I had left behind my friends and the teams I used to play for, which didn’t help either.
Fast forward to the present – itching to get back after a decade of no sports, a close friend insisted that I try tennis. “Who learns a new sport at 37?” I thought to myself, but went along nonetheless.
A few shots in, I loved how the ball hit the racquet, how it curved over the net and how top-spin could make it drop! Except, all this happened when my friend hit the ball. On the other hand, struggling with my forward defence, it dawned on me that we were playing two different sports, and I hated the one that I was playing!
Persistence was my key
It took me a while to realize that a forehand was not a front-foot drive. Service did not mean just releasing the ball when bowling, and backhand was not a switch hit. This was a different sport, learning which would require unlearning what I already knew.
Since then, it has taken me years to become better at it. The racquet now flows from down-to-up to impart top-spin, the serves have started to fall in place (occasionally) and the single-handed backhand has started giving joyous results. Heck, I might even have started liking the sport!
More importantly, the experience of picking up a new sport at 37, going through the process of learning and unlearning that it required, and experiencing the results of persistence made for an invaluable lesson. It was this very learning which came in handy when a new opportunity stared me in the face.
On an average, a start-up founder begins his/her venture around the age of 34. But here I was, at 42, standing at the brink of starting again, second time in my life. This time, by choice.