Covid-19, Mental health, Parkdale - High Park, Public health

Falling in love again

The High Park Tennis Courts located at 11 Colborne Lodge Drive are still open for anyone wanting to enjoy this unseasonably warm November. The best part is that these are public courts, meaning anyone can just show up and play. If the courts are busy you can simply hang your racquet on a board to reserve a court and play at the switch over time which occurs every 30 minutes on the hour or the ½ hour.

Tennis is important to me since I come from a tennis-playing family. My parents’ home in Scarborough has several tennis trophies stored in the basement. Also, I still can vividly remember my childhood spending hours with my brothers watching the Grand Slam tournaments on television and cheering for Borg, Connors, or Vilas. You could say that tennis is my family’s passion, as far as sports are concerned.

I must admit that despite of this passion the past few years I have been playing more recreational soccer to the neglect of my first sports love, tennis. Until Covid hit us and team sports were canceled out of necessity. So, I stored my soccer ball and dusted off my tennis racquet and started to play tennis again with family and friends in High Park.

Years ago back when I was a young and moody teenager a child psychologist recommended that I play more sports to lift myself up. My parents and brothers were already playing tennis, so, it was an easy decision for me to follow their lead and take up tennis. Unlike my brothers, I was never a top A player in high school and often was in the B or C doubles team, but nonetheless, tennis did help transform my outlook on life. Tennis showed me that in difficult times there are still things we can do to raise our spirits.

Today, tennis has once again raised my spirits as it did during those trying adolescent years, by giving me a break from these troubled times. It was inspiring to see Thiem and Osaka win the US Open earlier this year in the middle of a pandemic. Sports teach us that even when there are challenges ahead, we must never give up. Because if your opponent misses a lob or you hit a winning shot, suddenly you could be up 40-love. Speaking of never giving up there is an amazing documentary on Netflix about Guillermo Vilas’ quest to be recognized as the number 1 player back in the mid ’70s which I highly recommend to anyone. Vilas was my childhood idol. His focus, determination, and tireless dedication were impressive.

In difficult times, we are often frustrated because there is so much, we cannot control. So, let’s focus on what we can control and try to enjoy those activities that inspire us and give us hope. For me it’s tennis maybe for you it’s chess or making ceviche. It does not matter. Take care, stay safe, and remember the pandemic will pass.

Canadian Open tennis champion, Guillermo Vilas
by Boris Spremo
(Toronto Star Photograph Archive, Courtesy of Toronto Public Library)

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