He's a journeyman - a pro who will probably never hit the big time, who plays futures and challengers and has never made it past the first round of qualifying in a Grand Slam. What attracted me to his articles was his honest depiction of what life is really like as a run-of-the-mill professional tennis player, interspersed with his own mixed emotions about his chosen profession and how tough it is to simply get from tournament to tournament, let alone winning one.
He writes about the high he got from losing in the first round of qualifying in this year's Australian Open, the first Grand Slam event he'd ever entered, and how competing in a Grand Slam, even losing in the first round, was the highlight of his career; he also writes about his tight budgeting, how he cannot afford to bring his coach with him to most tournaments, including the AO, how he had to share a hotel room with a fellow tennis pro he met on the plane to a small tournament near Australia, how he was all alone at the AO because he simply could not afford to bring anyone with him. He contrasts his situation - really, the situation of 80% of all professional tennis players - to that of those ranked within the top 100: guys with an entourage, a support group. Tennis may be an individual sport, but when you're off the court, the people that surround you matter more than they are given credit for.
He also writes about losing to players ranked in the 500's and 600's in a futures tournament he took part in and the frustration that comes along with performing below your own expectations of yourself. He writes about his anxiety in relation to him being the second singles player for Israel's upcoming Davis Cup tie, and about the pressure of playing for your nation, and also about the pressure of his other career - the one where he plays for himself. Every match he loses is a lost opportunity to gain ranking points (usually, it's one ranking point) and, to a lesser degree of importance (that is, to him), to earn extra money. The pressure to win isn't merely borne out of the cold hard result of a tennis match itself; it also arises from that ruthlessly stark reality of him needing to make himself a living.
And yet, at the heart of his genuine, deeply-honest depiction of his struggles, his conviction in the path that he has chosen is clear. There is no hint of regret, just a very simple reminder to himself: "Next week I'll be far away from Eilat. A challenger in Russia. Away from everything I hope to get things back on track. Point by point, game by game."
The articles are translated by an amateur translator, but the writing, or what I can glean from the translation, is pretty remarkable. When I read those articles I felt so drawn into his world that I could almost feel the emotions and struggles that he wrote about.
The point of all this is that it's sobering, the fact that there are people like Amir Weintraub roughing it out at a job that requires more monetary input than it is able to return; but they keep at it simply in the pursuit of a dream.
I don't know what I'm waiting for. I'm tired of waiting for my life to happen. I consider myself luckier than most others in that I happen to be armed with a highly arrogant sense of hubris that allows me to believe that I can do anything I want. More than that, it allows me to believe that I can succeed at anything that I set my mind to. This means that, in an alternate universe, if I wanted to be a professional tennis player growing up, not only could I be one, I'd be a multiple-Slam winner. That is the extent of my arrogant self-belief.
So why is it that I'm still here, doing something that I don't want? Why am I glued to the same spot, frozen in inertia, utterly unable to move?
I need to stop listening to the doubtful voices, both internally and externally, and to start believing in myself again. I'm genuinely not at all worried about not being able to find a job, so that shouldn't even be a consideration.
This feels like Year 1 of law school all over again - staying in Singapore/law school and passing up some pretty solid offers to get an English degree in an English university because I was too afraid to move.
I'd be fucked if I repeat that mistake (that is, insofar as it is one).
Above all else, I'm just goddamn sick of failing at my own life - failing so miserably, mired in all this unhappiness, feeling myself fade, for no rhyme or reason. It's time I started owning myself and my life. It's been a long time coming.