Atticus has been taking team tennis lessons since he was four years old. I wanted to get him involved in some type of sport, and I thought tennis would be the safest bet.
Of course, because of his delayed motor skills, low muscle tone, and depth perception problems, it’s been a challenge for him from the beginning. But Atticus is determined when he wants to be and has been blessed with a wonderful, patient coach who has encouraged him through the years.
Last year, Coach decided that it was time to prepare Atticus for tournament play and moved him to the 12 and under team. They’ve spent the past year preparing for this summer (particularly practicing serving over and over again – Atticus was far behind his peers in this area).
This spring, Atticus finally acquired the ability to get his serve over the net on a consistent basis. He also started to move his feet and chase down balls. He looks like a different kid on the tennis court. He still has weird mechanics, and his body flails helplessly in space often, but after seven years of lessons, he’s getting the job done like never before. Oddly, his improved tennis play coincided with his new ability to roll his eyes. That’s right, he couldn’t roll his eyes. He couldn’t track objects with his eyes. He did a lot of “side viewing.” But just like magic, earlier this year he rolled his eyes – a complete circle. We both jumped with joy. He smiled so big his face almost disappeared. We knew progress had been made. And now, he can serve and move on the court.
This morning, his tennis academy played their first competitive match. They had to travel to a swanky country club where all their opponents showed up in bright tennis whites – while all the kids from the academy wore colored shorts and random t-shirts. I couldn’t help but think of the Bad News Bears while taking in how the other half lives.
He played a singles match and they had to play until someone won eight games. Atticus was competitive and won five. He won the most games of anyone on his team, and I couldn’t have been more proud of his determination and accomplishment. It also meant a lot to him because he went into the game expecting to be the lowest scoring team member of the day. But as he often does, Atticus exceeded expectations and surprised everyone.