I played in my first official tennis match ever, a USTA tournament against six teams. We played every hour beginning with a bye in the first hour — lucky us! Each team consisted of six players, three doubles partners. We played one set against another team’s six players at the same time across three courts.
When it was all over, we sweated through six sets — two complete matches. My partner and I struggled for four games only to lose by an embarrassing margin. But that didn’t prevent us from reaching deuce when we were behind, we fought hard for the point. By the fourth or fifth sets, we began to feel fatigued, overheated and pain. The blisters didn’t come until the fifth set and the backache started in the third or fourth set.
The fourth and fifth sets lasted the longest. In the fifth set, we finally lost without embarrassment with a final score of 4 to 6. It took the whole hour to play that set — usually, we finish with 20 or 30 minutes to spare and rest before the next game. Not in the fourth and fifth sets. My partner and I were ready to go home and crash by the last set, but we kept pushing.
We won our first game in the last set. 6 to 2. We cursed ourselves, got frustrated and angry, but we never stopped playing our best. Many people would give up after four of five losses. I’m proud my partner stuck with the game all the way through. It was a great feeling to finish the long day on a happy note.
I think being deaf drove me to persevere through life. I was determined to lead a normal life and have others see me just as good as them. No matter how frustrated I was in school thinking I wasn’t doing well enough, that thinking didn’t interfere with trying my best on the test.
I believe there’s a difference between thinking you can’t do something and actually doing your best. Some people may say that kind of thinking brings you down, but it didn’t for me and others I know. It was about being realistic while aiming high.
Sometimes, I wonder what character traits I would have had I not been born deaf. Competitive? Determined? Perfectionist?