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  • Writer's pictureNeal Hagberg

The Arc of Tennis, The Arc of Life


Image taken from the Neal & Leandra Facebook Page


There is an arc to every career.  And to every tennis player.  To every society.  And to every life.

At some point, as a singer/songwriter, whether or not Leandra and I decided to “retire” (which we did seven years ago) from performing publicly as a duo, our audience would have faded away.  It is never a matter of “if” in the music business, it is a matter of “when”.  The rooms we once could fill would not be full.  They would not even be close, depending upon how long we strung it out (we saw Rich Little – once the most recognized impressionist in the world – in Las Vegas last month, when I was out for the USPTA World Conference.  There were 23 people sitting in a room that holds 306).

In tennis, at some point I cannot beat others I used to be able to beat, or beat people of a younger age.  (Some point, by the way, is now).  And no matter how many more Grand Slams Federer and Nadal and Williams and Djokovic win, their tennis careers will come to an end.  Whether they want them to or not.

Societies that would last forever?  See the Greek Empire.  The Roman Empire.  The Ming Dynasty.  The Japanese Empire.  Babylon.  The British Empire.  And, yes, sooner than we hope, the American Empire.

And death? Undefeated so far.  Death drops the mic on us all.

So what does that leave us with?

Well, probably general depression, if you’re still reading, lol.

But it leaves me with great hope.

When everything is stripped away, what is left?

The essentials.


Image taken from the Neal & Leandra Facebook Page


We retired as a duo, but I discovered I enjoy writing more than I did when it was my career, because I discovered it went deeper than the numbers we could put up or people we could put in the seats.  It is what I love to do, whether anyone hears the songs or not.

I can’t beat people I wish I could in tennis, but every day on the court, I have more fun trash talking and enjoying the game than I ever did when I was younger and faster.

I live in a world that seems to be disintegrating before my eyes with rancor and self-indulgence and narcissistic belief that we humans are the center of the universe, but I can see kindness around me every day.  And courage of people in small ways.

I am not going to live forever, but I am much more keenly aware than when I was younger that I can live “now”.

My hair at 60 is fading away, my beard is gray, and I love it.  Because I am celebrating my 30th wedding anniversary today with my best friend whose hair is also grayer than when I met her, whose gait is slower (but not much, because she never liked to move anyway), but whose love is keener.


Image taken from the Leandra’s Facebook Page


In the end, all arcs fade into oblivion.  Except one.  If…we… so… choose.  And the score at the end is what it was in the beginning.

Love -Love.

That is the only arc I am pinning my hopes on.

I do not feel old.  At all.  But I am in the second half of my life.  Sitting beside my spouse of 30 years.  And the arc keeps bending.  Towards the one thing that makes all the difference.

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