From the first practice I had at City Park in New Orleans in August the woman at the front desk immediately gave me, “you’re on court number four,” and it felt like the most idyllic life in Narnia since Hurricane Ida had sent the tennis team scattered across the country to Cleveland and New York. With Tennis there is no guarantee, tennis players, on average will make 27.6 unforced errors in a match… or “miss 27.6” shots a match. With missed shots comes missed opportunities and with missed opportunities come very high levels of frustration. But, at City Park it seems that the people working the front desk know when players are going to be arriving and have your court ready to play on. Once one arrives to City Park, they walk through the front lobby where the main desk is which always has a nice lady greeting the players and pointing them in the right direction of where their court is located. Once you exit the lobby through the other set of doors straight on, looking to the left one is met with 16 vibrant blue and green hard courts and ten green clay courts to the right. To the left, the courts are set up in groups of two lining down all the way to the far back left of the facility where the pattern breaks and there is a cluster of three hard courts on the outer furthermost corner. As one walks out of the main lobby doors they are also greeted head on with what appears to be the “center court.” This is also a hard court, but it is bigger than the others. It stands alone with no other court to its immediate left or right and has by far the most room behind the baseline and to the sides of the court. The organized nature of City Park Tennis makes the environment for children that much mor enjoyable. The coordinated nature of the way the facility is set up makes it a welcoming place for children who are still developing because it is found that predictability in routines and places allow for children to feel safe and trust the environment they are in.
City Park is not only home to Tulane Tennis, but it is also a park, golf course and they are home to Tulane Track and Field. We spend our time almost exclusively at the tennis courts and sometimes at the track when we go and do fitness at the Tad Gormley stadium. Walking into the Tennis facility is always a different feeling than when we are leaving. We begin our early afternoon practice around 1pm and usually finish anywhere between 3 and 4pm.
The sun often than not is out in full force while the sky is either a perfect blue or scattered clouds. In an article written by Forbes, a handful of doctors like Dr. Michael Roizen and Dr. Mithu Storoni discuss the many positive outcomes that being out in the sunlight have on the human body. Mood and sleep are both improved by being out in the sun as well as helping the strengthening of the immune system. The days that excite me the most are the ones where there is not a single cloud in the sky. I have realized towards the ends of practices that I often feel like I am in a completely different world at the end of practice than I was at the beginning when we started at 1pm. The sun is right in my ball toss on the serve when we start practice which can get very annoying because it is hard to see the ball when you’re tossing it straight into a gaseous ball of fire.
Since I am new to New Orleans and all the many places it has to offer, I have tried exploring what the city has to offer and no place thus far puts me through the emotions that city park does. When we start the practice, it honestly feels so early in the day and feels like we still have so much time left in the day. Almost every practice that we have I always wish we could play longer and be there for more than the NCAA allotted 20 hours a week. The closest thing I can relate the time spent at city park is that of the seasons passing and having that be a constant cycle day in and day out. I have never really paid attention to how a place makes me feel and how different of a world I feel I am at the beginning of a practice compared to the end. Most of my life I have practiced indoors so I was never able to appreciate the natural sunlight and the constant movement of the positioning of the sun which is the one glaring difference that I have not been able to take my focus off since coming to Tulane because I spent all my time inside and now constantly getting the vitamin D every single day really makes it more enjoyable to be practicing outside.
At the beginning of practice there is little to no people on the tennis courts which although City Park is a public facility, seems like it is just our team which I directly correlate the beginning of practice and the sun still shining high in the sky with just us being there beginning our physical warm up. Towards the end of our practice as the sun is starting to set ever so slightly to the right over the trees across the street, the shadows off the palm trees cast over the courts and that is when the influx of kids begin to make their way into the facility through the front doors. While the sun seems to dip over the edge of the earth, there usually comes a slight temperature drop with it as well leaving it only a few degrees cooler than at the beginning of the day. It is interesting to see how as one day is finishing up a person’s day could just be getting started at the City Park Tennis center. Carlo Rovelli discusses time and how it can be an illusion. I do feel that when my day begins at City Park the flow of time does not correspond to the physical reality that we are in because of the many events that we base life of off including past, present and future events in that place, in this case City Park. The association with City Park has always been at the same time of the day so it is difficult to associate that part of the day with another place other than City Park.
City Park has a special place in my heart because of the many people that it brings together during a match day. Whether one likes to admit it or not, when one is an athlete at a school, your teammates are your family for the next four years. The definition of a family is “A group of people who are going through the world together.” I found that I was seeing my teammates everyday more hours than I wasn’t, the realization that this is my second family has made me very happy to know that every day when I go to practice, we are surrounded by Tulane Green Wave banners that match the ones on the shirts on our chests.
Many supporters of the Tulane Men’s Tennis program gather to city park every match day to cheer us on as we attempt to beat whatever team we are hosting. It is nice to see the family that I am around each day (that being my teammates) expand on match days and really feel the love from the fans that come to support us and cheer us on. While the days come to an end and there is a constant dialogue in my head about the changes in weather, light and temperature throughout our three-hour practice window, I ask myself if I am the only one of the eight guys on our team who can see City Park in the light that I am. There is the constant thought of “are other people seeing the same thing I am and are they feeling the same way I am.” The day concludes with all of us walking out of the shadowy tennis facility into our Tulane sprinter bus back to campus waiting for the next day to repeat the same cycle again… the same feeling I have often felt about to embark on a long road trip with my family back home.