What to do when your child is being cheated?

13th Apr 2012

I remember my first tennis tournament as a little girl. I made it to the semi-finals. I was really in kind of a daze because I didn’t think I would make it past the first-round much less make it to the semis. I was around 8 or 9 years old and I was to play the number one seed in the tournament who was 12 years old and a giant. I was nervous but I went out and tried to play my game and at 8 or 9 that was just getting the ball back in the court! I was winning and then all of a sudden this girl’s father was yelling from the sidelines, saying things to rattle me, telling his daughter to call my balls out. She started to call my serves out and anything that was close she called out. I didn’t know what to do. I had never experienced a grownup spewing venom towards me and didn’t know how to handle the girl who was cheating me. We split sets and were ready to play a third and final, but at that time, you had to take ten minutes to regroup and talk with your coach or family. At 8 or 9 I didn’t understand what was happening or how people could be so mean, I just felt bad, and knew something wasn’t right. My parents tried to encourage me, telling me not to pay attention to the girl’s father, and said I could still beat her even if she cheated. It was our first tournament and we didn’t know we could call for a line judge. By the time we started the third set I was pretty worn out emotionally, and now everyone from my tennis club was watching me along with the girl’s entourage, who were rooting against me. It was more than I could handle that day and I ended up losing the match. What I did learn was how to block everything out except for me, and the ball. You have to keep your focus no matter what. Also, know the rules of your sport. I gave my future opponents the benefit of the doubt after one bad line call, but if there was a second, I called for a linesman. There is no need for arguments or bad behavior. You do what is right, stay focused, and be graceful. Lose with dignity, win with grace, and never cheat. The decisions you make on the court or playing field will ultimately reflect who you are in life.

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