There are great tennis players in California; there are great tennis players in New York. But some of the most passionate, dedicated and fun-loving tennis players come from the South, where our forehand slices are sweeter than a slice of peach pie.
If you’re a southern tennis player, take pride in these 10 things that you do better than the rest of the country, and just say “Bless your heart,” to the Californians and New Yorkers who don’t know how sweet it is to play tennis in the South.
1. You can handle the heat
Whether you’re from Columbia, South Carolina, or Rome, Georgia, you know that there’s nothing but a screen door between hell and your city come summertime. An hour on the tennis court will leave you sweating like a sinner in church with suntan lines that would outdo a farmer’s, but the heat has never stopped you from playing.
2. You’re polite
In the South, “Yes sir/ma’am” knows no age. You’ve taught your child to address their tennis instructor this way and you probably still use the formality yourself. You’re quick to compliment another player, whether it’s about their serve or their outfit, and you write thank-you notes to every coach, teammate, doubles partner, and family member who came to watch your match. A southerner knows that good manners makes every time on the tennis court more pleasant.
3. You don’t mind travel
Traveling to a tennis tournament is no big deal for southerners because for you, 90 miles is “just down the road.” A long trip or early morning will never be a southern tennis player’s excuse for playing poorly. Tennis players from Nashville traveling to Knoxville have woken up an hour earlier to account for the time-zone change that divides Tennessee. And if you ever have to play in a city further than “down the road,” you can count on your cousin’s friend’s brother to put you up for the night.
4. You take your time
A southerner never rushes through anything, especially tennis practice. Every water break is an opportunity to chitchat (ahem, gossip) because your time on the tennis court is as social as it is competitive. With all this talking, one tennis lesson make take as long as a month of Sundays, but you know better than anyone that tennis is supposed to be relaxing and fun.
5. You save money on tennis gear
You’re not so cheap that you wouldn’t give a nickel to see Jesus ridin’ a bicycle, but you do like to get a good bargain on your tennis gear. You’ve regularly purchased tennis items at Wal-Mart, but you’d never tell anyone about that. And you’re a sucker for hand-me-downs — good thing you literally save everything.
6. You know how to cheer
Southerners came out of the womb singing their grandfather’s alma mater’s fight song and are fiercely loyal to their team, whether born an Auburn Tiger or of the Crimson Tide. You probably grew up screaming at a football game, so it’s really difficult for you not to whoop and holler at a tennis match. You know cheering is the key to winning the game and you happen to be really good at it.
7. You always look good
No matter the humidity, you know how to look put together on the tennis court. Your mama taught you to never leave the house without wearing lipstick and everything you own, from your tennis bag to your visor, has a monogram on it. And you don’t sweat, you sparkle.
8. You know how to celebrate
In the south, the end of the tennis season, a big win, even a close loss, is a call for celebration. Southern tennis players know the proper way to celebrate any accomplishment on the court. You do it right by hosting backyard barbecues complete with mason jars of sweet tea or your beer of choice.
9. You treat everyone like family
Southerners don’t just hang out with their tennis buds on the court, they make teammates, coaches and hitting partners their friends for life. Everyone you meet through tennis becomes part of your extended family. Their support is the reason you have so much success in the sport and want to continue to play for the rest of your days.
10. You’re dedicated to the game
Whether it’s bearing the heat on the court in Jackson, Mississippi, or dealing with traffic on your way to practice in Charlotte, North Carolina, southern tennis players are committed to the sport. It’s a game that you have fun playing with your friends, can share with your family and hope to be part of for a lifetime. So raise your mason jar and toast to how sweet it is to be a tennis player in the South.