I love tennis! You can ask anyone who I come in contact with, and I literally live, eat and breathe tennis. Whether I am tuned in to Tennis Channel at 4:00 A.M. watching the Australian Open finals, on the practice court in December outdoors in 40 degree weather all bundled up or at Kastles Stadium cheering on the Washington Kastles – I LOVE TENNIS!!! I am not sure there is a greater sport on earth that can test your spirit and will to win as an individual athlete.
I moved to the Washington, D.C. area a little more than five years ago after having served in the United States Marine Corps for 13 years. Moving to a new city alone as a young professional can be daunting. Not having any close family or friends in the area, I had to force myself to go out and be social. I’ve never considered myself much for the club scene or the type of person who is a social butterfly and can easily make connections. One way I was able to meet a network of new people outside of the workplace and form connections in my community was through tennis and renewing my USTA membership. Through tennis I am able to have a positive social outlet and be active at the same time. There are so many positive aspects of being a lifelong tennis player. Tennis helps you deal with stress, and it teaches you to stay in the moment, to be positive and to take each point or situation one by one as it comes to you.
Tennis is a challenging sport and you constantly have to be thinking and on your toes. Life can reflect tennis in many ways: When you are faced with many challenges and obstacles and you have to think your way through in order to achieve and to get to the next level in life or in the ratings. At times, tennis reminds me of my military service and the discipline I needed as a Marine. To be the best and to excel you have to be a little robotic or stoic, not showing too much emotion but still having the emotion that drives you lying just under the surface. In tennis, if you get too emotional on the court you may very well end up losing the point. In the military, this idea was referred to as “maintaining your bearing.”
In my experience, the USTA has been so much more than the governing body of tennis in the United States. It is truly a place where players can harness their passion for the sport while cultivating lifelong friendships on the court. Tennis for me is a way of life, and I am truly lucky I have met some great people through this sport. I am not sure I would have forced myself to venture out some days if it was not for having a match scheduled and having to meet your team for league play or practice. I want to give a heartfelt thank you to the league coordinators, the captains, and tournament directors. You serve a very meaningful and significant purpose for the many players who are part of the USTA.
Lastly, I have been lucky enough to be called upon to give back to the community through USTA and the Professional Tennis Registry (PTR). USTA and PTR co-sponsored a workshop for kids 10 and under where adult tennis players were given the opportunity to volunteer and gain a certification with the PTR. Through this initiative, I gained PTR certification. The initiative has also created a cadre of community coaches who volunteer their time to teach kids 10 and under at different USTA Mid-Atlantic play days and events. I look forward to working at these events and to continuing to help grow the sport and build passion for tennis in others.
Elizabeth “Libby” McLeod, Marine Veteran, USTA Mid-Altantic Member and Certified PTR Tennis Instructor