Saturday, September 15, 2012

I can exceed my limitations!

My dad used to be a tennis player. If you get to meet him, he'll tell you loads of stories of us back in the 80s. He'd bring me to his matches and his weekly practices, and I would actually watch. Sometimes (as most 5 year olds would do), I'd wander off and look for butterflies in the nearby garden.

He's proud of this particular story: One day I got bored watching him practice, and so I asked him if it's time to go home already. While backswinging he replied, "Soon, sweetheart. We'll go home soon." By the 6th time I asked the question, he still gave same response.

I got fed up and the 7th question I asked was, "How do I get home, Daddy? I turn left, then turn right and I should reach the gate right? Then I walk to the left turning towards Funcion Street...". Dad thought that was so funny he stopped practice and took me home. Haha, I already was an impatient runt back then and I was dead serious about going home all by myself.

I never did become athletic growing up. Sure I loved PE and ballet classes but I wasn't really into the whole sports thing. The most was I'd listen to my Dad talk about his favorite tennis player of all time -- Steffi Graf. 

Steffi Graf's story is quite remarkable. She showed so much promise that her Dad, Pete Graf, (a car salesman and aspiring tennis coach) risked everything, even selling his business, only to start a tennis school for his daughter. Steffi began practising on a court at the age of four and played in her first tournament at five. Soon after she  began winning junior tournaments with regularity, and in 1982 she won the European Championships 12s and 18s (source). 

What attracted me to Steffi Graf's story was how she exceeded everyone's expectations. What's more impressive is how much faith her Dad had in her, even risking everything to hone his daughter's skills. Steffi Graf is known for her versatility across all playing surfaces. My Dad said the hardest surface to play on is clay because of the need to be constantly wet down as the clay usually dries up under the sun. The clay also has the tendency to stick to the player's shoes and hinder the ability to run around. Additionally, the slow-bouncing surface makes it more difficult for a player to hit an unreturnable shot. Only Rafael Nadal has mastered playing on clay, thus he is dubbed "The King of Clay." 

source: Wikipedia
Steffi Graf is the only singles player (male or female) to have achieved a Calendar Year Grand Slam while playing on four different types of tennis courts (Rebound Ace, grass, clay and DecoTurf), as the Calendar Year Grand Slams won by other players before her occurred when the Australian and US Opens were still played on grass (source).

Regarded as one of the best female tennis players of the 20th century, she lives a charmed life married to the world's former best male tennis player, Andre Agassi. They look lovely, don't they? To achieve your best and exceed your limitations, it takes passion, focus and determination to excel -- traits that these two have mastered all throughout their years of tennis. 

Can you imagine if all athletes were sweaty and harbored body odor on the courts? That would be such a turn-off and quite embarrassing to be travelling and competing around the world knowing you excessively perspire and smell. I'm glad that you can use a product such as Safeguard to maintain good hygiene plus keep bacteria and smellies at bay. 

For me, the only thing that's closest to a workout is the daily brisk walking on the way to work and shouting my lungs out in Singapore. I do encounter a lot of sweaty runners in the Ayala Triangle area, they pass me by and I'm glad I don't get to smell anything horrid. On a different note, good hygiene is always top priority even in the workplace. How in the world will you have the confidence to perform or present in front of a client if you are all sweaty and smelly, or if you sport unkempt hair?

Maintaining proper hygiene does not only tell the world that you value yourself, but everyone else you interact with too. 

Check out this video by Safeguard x Coach Rio: Do you think you can outrun his record of 20 meters in 2.3 seconds? How do you maintain your cool (literally and figuratively) while engaged in sports? How have you exceeded your [athletic] limitations?

PS: A lovely photo of me and my Dad in Singapore :)

say hello to my carbon paper :)


  1. Aww I love how you opened up this article with such a personal touch. I didn't really grow up with my dad so I'm a sucker for dad-daughter anything (I cried myself to dry with I am Sam!). As for limitations... I'm not very sure if I have pushed myself hard enough to dub me exceeding my "limitations" but reading inspirational stories such as what you shared of Graf, is always a steady nudge.

    1. Thank you Kumi! I tried to look for photos of my Dad playing tennis but they're all in the province! Sayang, I think he would appreciate if the trophies were featured too :)

      And I agree, "I am Sam" was the most poignant and meaningful father-daughter movie ever!

  2. this is very nice! i love love love this article! ( i've always dreamed of learning tennis, but just never had the opportunity)