When I first moved to Boston three months ago, I thought to myself, “Wow, I’m in America. This should be really good for my tennis. I’ll try out for the BU team, play Division I college tennis, travel for tournaments around the U.S and yes, try to get a Masters degree while I’m at it”. Well, like they so often say things don’t usually pan out the way you want them to or, at least, think they would inside your head. This is not to say I had come here with the sole purpose of hitting tennis balls but, from the little time that I’ve been here, I wish I were spending more time on a tennis court than I currently am.
My first day in Boston, I went to check out the BU campus. You would think the first thing a Masters student, or any student for that matter, would want to see would be their department building, for me COM. But no, I went straight to the Track and Tennis Center. A pretty spectacular facility it is, at least compared to what I’ve been playing at back home. Four multi-purpose indoor courts with a unique surface I’ve never played on before and a track running all round the courts.
Okay, now that I had tracked down the courts, my next mission was to find good practice partners. This was something I had never done before. Having lived and played all my life in Pakistan, I pretty much knew everyone on the tennis circuit and they all knew me. So having good quality practice partners was a blessing I always took for granted. I had to start from scratch here. Luckily, I ran into Adrian Matthews, a graduate student from Ohio, who had played Division III tennis in his undergrad. I had sat down to watch the U.S Open at the Fit Rec Center, and I see this guy with a bunch of tennis rackets and my first instinct is, he must be on the tennis team. But, as I later found out, he was playing a league here in Boston and we set up a time to practice.
In between settling into a new place, orientation day and getting course books, I set up a meeting with the BU women’s tennis team coach. I knew that the NCAA had certain rules against players who’ve already graduated from college to be on the team, but still thought it was worth a shot. As excited as the coach was to see my resume’, she told me she couldn’t bend the rules but instead made an arrangement for me to hit with one of the Canadian team members every week. With the way my semester has gone so far, especially as far as the workload is concerned, I’m glad I wasn’t eligible.
Anyways, that still didn’t stop me from signing up for the BU tennis club tournament. It’s interesting how this works. Once the draw is out, players can pretty much schedule their matches at their own convenience. The downside to that is, very rarely do opponents’ schedules match up. I played and won my first round, four weeks ago I think, and still haven’t gotten a chance to schedule the next round.
In the meantime, I discovered some other tennis courts and found more practice partners. Besides, the BU outdoor courts next to the Nickerson Field, I was pleasantly surprised to find a couple of public tennis courts at a walking distance from my apartment. Bruno Frustace, another BU grad student from New York, is also one of my regular hitting partners. Like me, he is always eager to play. In fact, we signed up to play doubles together and are hoping to make a good run.
It’s funny what difference a few months can make. There I was in Pakistan, competing at the national level, playing Fed Cup and whatnot, training rigorously for four to five hours a day to now having a hard time booking a court and considering myself lucky to have found time to play tennis on a weekend. But at least I do!