The "I Love My Doubles Partner" journey began in 2009.
At the time - I was 195lbs (which is 50lbs over weight for me), 35 years old and had not played tennis before - or any sport for that matter - as an adult. In an effort to lose weight (and after trying all sorts of other exercise such as lifting weights, jogging, swimming, aerobics, yoga and coed soccer) - I found tennis.
It was a difficult sport for me at the beginning - often sending me home in tears of frustration - you see - I couldn't keep the ball in the court!
I joined a club - and even though I was only a 2.5 - the lowest rated team that I could join was a 3.0. I joined it.
I started playing, practicing and taking lessons 4-5 times a week - I caught the tennis bug - I was completely addicted!!
And I kept losing. Matches. And weight!
One day - a woman named Heidi asked to hit with me. I said sure. We hit for a couple of hours - she was so good! After that she asked to hit with me again, and again. We hit singles a couple times a week.
And we became friends.
Heidi was incredible. She was a 4.5. She was slender and fit. She was happily married. And she was so generous and kind! After all - as I'm sure you know - advanced tennis players don't normally hit with beginners! She had nothing to gain from me - only to give!
My life was in shambles - in 2010, I had my second ectopic pregnancy leaving me unable to have children, I lost my great corporate job and then finally, in August, my husband decided that he wanted to divorce me and left.
I was paralyzed with fear. With no support, money or hope for the future - I felt like I had nothing left. I fell into a deep depression where I found it hard to breath. It seemed pointless to get out of bed. I felt like I had nothing to live for. No job. A failed marriage. No money. Far from family. No value.
But then - I had tennis.
I just couldn't miss my practice and my matches. My team relied on me. And I needed them too.
There was no more money for lessons - so Heidi was my only source of practice for improvement. I asked her how to win. She coached me. I listened to her. I learned from her. I started emulating her.
She was very different from a lot of the players I had met - she wasn't picky about who she played with. She was open to play with anyone. I mean anyone. Even "those" ladies that no one wanted to play with.
Heck - she was hitting with a 3.0 (me)! How many 4.5 ladies do you know that will play with a 3.0?
Also - I watched her nutrition habits. What was she eating? Which supplements did she take? What about her water intake?
And - how was she with her husband? What made their relationship so solid?
Here's what I realized about her:
- she's intentional
- she's very generous
- she's grateful
If I wanted to be like Heidi - I needed to embrace these core values. This is formula I came up with:
Tenacity + Generosity + Gratitude = BLiSS
This began my "I Love My Doubles Partner" process.
First was Tenacity. I really became strategic about my tennis game. I didn't drink the alcohol the night before matches so that I would get a good sleep and wake up refreshed. I learned which foods keep me energized yet light throughout the match. I watched my opponents to quickly ascertain their weaknesses. I used my strengths - and those of my partner to win! I even practiced with purpose. I chose something to work on each time - and wrote take aways after to study later. I interviewed players and coaches asking them questions about how to win! I learned top spin and most importantly to lob (this was key to me moving up in the ranks).
Second was Generosity. This was a big "I Love My Doubles Partner" awakening. Not only would I hit with anybody but I would play matches with anybody too. I dropped my fear of losing and opened my arms to all things tennis. With whoever. Whenever. Wherever. I opened up and became flexible. A nasty park? No problem! 6am? Sure! I would even play with people who really sucked much worse than I did. And not only would I play with them - I would be kind to them. I would be encouraging and authentically compliment their strengths (instead of disparaging and focusing on their weaknesses). The way Heidi did with me. She was always building on my strengths! Making me feel confident and able! And something fantastic happened! The sweeter I was to them - the better they played - an unintentional benefit to being loving was that we actually WON MORE! I won with ladies that had not won with anyone else! The "losers" transformed into "winners" when they played with me! It was magical. Not only that - suddenly - I was "Miss Popular". I was invited to all the teams - and all the fun parties too. So I played more much more - and winning with all of these different people made me a better player too! I had to learn to adjust to their strengths and weaknesses. If my partner had a great overhead - my strategy was to lob nice and deep - so that the opponents lob back - so that I get her an overhead! The more that I served my partner - the funner tennis became! As I looked for their positive attributes I felt more confident and engaged too! Which made me play my best as well!
And finally the last step was Gratitude. Instead of complaining and gossiping constantly (and I really truly did have justifiable things to be upset about) - I shifted my thoughts and words to that of gratitude and lovingness. I switched my lost match conversation from "well if she hadn't double faulted 6 times...." to "oh the opponents played very well and she (my partner) handled the pace awesomely...". My excuses for losing - and arguing for my limitations - transformed to deep honest gratefulness for getting to play. After all - tennis saved my life. The court and my tennis friends was what pulled me out of my darkest days. How could I not be grateful? People wanted to play with me. I have breath, arms, legs, enough money for a racket and a vehicle to get to matches in. The tennis court was my therapy. I worked my issues out on it. For its a macrocosm of life. Who I was being on the court in stressful situations (like losing, or playing against cheaters or with a bully for a partner) was who I actually am in life. Because those same bullies on the court - are like that off the court too - so we all need to deal with them. But from my "I Love My Doubles Partner" space of gratitude for being able to play tennis - that bully became a hurting woman that needed compassion and empathy. You've heard the saying, "Hurt people - hurt people". So I loved the prickly ones EVEN MORE. I showed my gratitude by being as loving as I could - no matter what was going on in the match. And another unintended benefit happened - those "nasty" partners and opponents softened up when they played with me or against me. My attitude of gratitude was contagious! They didn't cheat with bad line calls or scream. They didn't judge or be mean to me. My happiness broke their walls down and what was left was that soft woman inside! Through my love - they felt more loving. Yes - we each have that much power to influence others!
In conclusion - as I made the shifts (in my thoughts, behaviors and attitude) on the tennis court - I started to win more.
I rose from a 3.0 to a 3.5 and then a 4.0 and finally in 2017 - just 7 short years later I was bumped up to a 4.5 player just like Heidi.
But that's not all.
The ripples of wins seeped throughout my life. The "I Love My Doubles Partner" formula for BLiSS helped me drop 50lbs easily. And the most important gift it gave me was that I met the true love of my life Robert - (who is my favorite doubles partner - we compete at 9.0 mixed together) but also I am an INCREDIBLY HAPPY WOMAN.
Like Heidi - I too am fit, sexy, confident and have great relationships. My life is exciting and adventurous.
Instead of commercial banking - I now design dainty tennis jewelry and court to cocktail dresses! I have played tennis with hundreds of partners and all over the world! I have friends from beginner level to professional US Open competitors!
My body thanks me too - from my mind to my fitness level - tennis has strengthened me mentally and physically - making me confident to handle anything that comes my way.
If you too want happiness, health and to WIN MORE - pick up my book "I Love My Doubles Partner" today - look for the best attributes in all of those around you - and copy them! Let the strengths of others inspire you to be better too. After all - living a blissful life is a practice - not a talent. Something that is available to all of us. But it takes some introspection, a plan and then the most important part - EXECUTION.
Look for the things to LOVE about your partner - and you will find them in yourself too.
We are ONE.
Also: BE a doubles partner to love. The better you are as a person - the prouder you will be of yourself - and it begins with self love.
LOVE YOURSELF. LOVE ALL.
Tennis is a privilege. Be kind. Have fun. LOVE more.
Adeline Arjad Cook
Author and Los Angeles Made Tennis Collections, I LOVE MY DOUBLES PARTNER!!!
If you want to share the LOVE about your partner - please post it on www.facebook.com/ilovemydoublespartner