It was my last year at San Fernando high. It was a memorable time of my life
because I knew that I would graduate at the end of that year. My senior year
also became the most significant year of my life, because I got to do something
that I have always wanted to try tennis. I had always wanted to play tennis ever
since I was a kid, but there wasn’t enough time for me to join tennis team. One
day, Mr. Cockerill who was my teacher and also the tennis coach, encouraged me
to join the team. I thought it might be the only chance for me to get involved,
and decided to join the team. Mr. Cockerill was assigned to be our coach. He is
a tall, strong old man with a red face. I loved to listen of what he said,
because I felt he was giving me a valuable lesson especially during practice
hours that he thought it could be use for the game. My first lesson was not that
great. I had to pick up the balls most of the time. I was unable to hold firmly
a tennis racket’s grip. I practiced very hard almost every day after school
included the weekends. There were few times I wanted to quit the challenges, but
my friends had given back my courage. These friends of mine had started playing
tennis two years before I came in to join the team. Their skills were so much
improved compared to me. They were willing to stay and practice with me. I was
also happy that my oldest brother, an excellent singles player helped me out at
the start. At home I often admire his awards and whispered to myself that;
“I would never get one like this all my life. It is impossible for me to be
an athlete.” In the beginning, I knew that I wasn’t a good player, but it
didn’t stop me from joining the team. However my father was worried that if I
came home so late at night, I wouldn’t have enough time to study for other
classes. He didn’t allow me to be involved in this kind of activity. I wanted to
beg my dad to let me continue, but we didn’t have a good communication with each
other. I felt either very guilty for not joining the team or for going against
my dad’s will. He would disown me if I didn’t listen to him. I felt I was pushed
to the edge of a cliff. His attitude had emotionally hurt when I personally
heard it of what he had treated me. I couldn’t stop crying for days. My tears
just ceaselessly drooped. My coach worried why I didn’t look so well in class.

He asked few times, but I couldn’t find a way to start explaining the whole
situation. I really wanted to resolve this problem as soon as possible. It was
my dream to be in tennis team, and Mr. Cockerill was the only person who can
talk to my dad. Finally, he actually did let me join the team. In the end, I
realized that how difficult it was for me to be on the tennis team. I should
play my best in order to please my dad, my coach, my friends, and for San
Fernando high. During the first tournament, I was very nervous and excited at
the same time. It was my first competition; I couldn’t hold my racket still. My
entire body was shaking, but luckily no one noticed that. Mr. Cockerill gathered
us in class and explained what the strategies would be and how we should play.

He also reminded us to have a positive attitude even if we lost the game. At the
end of the game I lost to my opponent with a scoring 3-8. I felt very happy that
at least I had made some effort for my score, and I took me few weeks to
practice. Mr. Cockerill was very kind and so understanding. He didn’t only slow
anything about the lost, but he also took well care of us with cookies, fruits
and drinks. I had followed his teaching, “as long as you all do your best,
I am very please, and I ask no more than that.” I kept it as an
encouragement. My time was devoted to this game at least one or two hours
everyday. Mr. Cockerill was very satisfied because I would never complain about
the practice section and I always gave smile at him. I practically never won the
game myself, although I had learned to improve my skill from those experts who
had been playing for years. I didn’t feel that bad because it took me a few
months to be Varsity. I didn’t win any game, but I could tell myself each time I
had to play that, “I have done my best.” Once, during a game, I
twisted my ankle when I served the ball. I said nothing to my coach, because I
was afraid to let him down nor I wanted him to be worried. They didn’t realize
how hurt I was at that day. I had to pretend to smile at my team. I was very
queer; I had to endure that physically pain till the last second. It took me few
days to recover my ankle. That was also the last game that I played for San
Fernando high. The last day of a semester, Mr. Cockerill invited all of members
in the team to the banquet. There most of my team members had received their
award letters and trophies. At last, the final trophy was given as an
“inspiration to Kim-Anh Le,” he yelled out loud. “It is for
me?” I was so surprise and looked around the room to see if he was kidding
me. I was speechless at that moment. As I walked up to the stage to receive the
award, I heard all the clapping hands toward me. Mr.Cockerill gave me a hug and
whisper in my ear, “you deserve it, honey. I am very proud of you.”
This beautiful day has always been there ever since I graduated. It was such a
best memory that I had treasured in my heart. It couldn’t describe how my
feeling was at the banquet, but Mr. Cockerill had adhered to my mind, he was
always there for me to look up to. All I really wanted to say is “thanks to
Mr. Cockerill for giving me a best lesson that I have ever had.” Now I have
able to play tennis without any help.

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