Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Persistence Personified

I've been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate,
A poet, a pawn and a king.
I've been up and down and over and out
And I know one thing:
Each time I find myself, flat on my face,
I pick myself up and get back in the race.

That's life
I tell ya, I can't deny it,
I thought of quitting baby,
But my heart just ain't gonna buy it.
And if I didn't think it was worth one single try,
I'd jump right on a big bird and then I'd fly

That’s Life

This is the schedule for Thursday at the French Open tennis tournament in Paris. Play starts at 7am Chicago time:

It’s Elena Dementieva in the semifinal.

Elena is my favorite tennis player. I’ve written about her before, even did a cartoon about her: Elena Called A Let

Elena is a very frustrating player to be a fan of because although she can play, on occasion, better than any woman on the planet, she breaks down mentally in big situations and crumbles. She goes to pieces. In pressure situations she often doesn’t just play badly, she plays awful. Embarrassing.

But I can’t not be her fan because she always “picks herself up and gets back in the race.” She goes from a humiliating loss on this or that center court with the world watching and somehow doesn’t let it defeat her mentally, doesn’t let it drive her to retirement, but continues playing. And she plays great—until she gets into some pressure situation.

But she doesn’t quit.

This is powerful stuff for me because I make a fool out of myself almost daily and sometimes I find it very hard to do that “pick myself up” bit and get back into the race and keep trying.

But one of the things that’s always on my mind when I want to quit is how Elena Dementieva doesn’t quit, and how she manages to keep re-climbing the same mountain and getting herself another chance at greatness. And when she fucks it up, she doesn’t let that stop her from getting back in the game and forcing herself into another chance at greatness.

She is my favorite sports person. I think I admire persistence more than anything else in the world and Elena Dementieva is persistence personified.

Thursday in Paris Elena will try to get back to the finals of the French Open. (She’s been to the finals before. Her performance was, to put it kindly, ugly.)

But this year is very different for her.

There are no other Russians left in the draw. When Russian women play other Russian women the mental pressures become almost unbearable for them.

There are no other players who have accomplished anything near what Elena has accomplished. When Russian women play someone who has proven themself in pressure situations the mental pressures become almost unbearable for them.

But this year Elena Dementieva is in a perfect situation mentally.

No Russians. Good players around her but nobody who has anything like her results.

Unless the pressure of having no pressure becomes too much pressure for her, this should be Elena Dementieva’s year to win a Grand Slam.

I will be watching—and probably yelling at the TV set during the whole match.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Addendum 11am Chicago Time:

Elena Dementieva stuns Roland Garros by pulling out of semi-final

“I make a fool out of myself almost daily” — There you go. I devote a whole post to Elena. I pick her to win the tournament. And she withdraws from the match without even attempting a second set. She fucks up another opportunity. And I check off yet another incident of making a fool out of myself. Hey. That’s life! (That’s certainly my life!)

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