Saturday, June 17, 2006

On Faith

On Faith

About a month ago I was asked about Tim Henman and my reason for having supported him for the last 12 years. And the one answer I could give?

Faith.

I'm not sure why or how it happened and I'm sure my life would have been made considerably easier if I'd latched on to practically any other player but the fact is - it happened. Tim Henman. He's one of my boys. And when you have that faith there's no point in rational thought telling you that, hey, he'll put up some fight and do a few good volleys but ultimately end up putting the ball into the net at the crucial moment, leaving me to cry into my tissues. Because I believed. And if it wasn't going to be Wimbledon, then it would be the US Open. One day it would happen.

Until last year. When the passage of time and dawning realisation started to prove too much. The faith, oh I still had it, but it was different. If during the last year Tim got into a second round of a tournament then I was pleased. The faith might be there but the expectation had gone.

Until today. All week Tim's been playing his ultra-white-washed-in-ariel socks off at Queens. But I didn't expect anything. Each match I had the lingering worry that we were only a couple of miss hit forehands and a double fault away from going out. And if it wasn't in the first round then it would be in the second. Or in the third. And surely he wouldn't get past the quarters? But he did. So semi-final. It had to be it, didn't it?

For the first set I was calm, collected and totally prepared for Tim to go out. This was how it was decreed to be. History had taught me so. What I'd not prepared for was the second set and him starting to play out of his skin. Because the faith can't fight that. It can't fight the sight of Tim on a grass court making winners I can usually only dream of. I shouted, I pumped the air, I yelled 'c'mon Tim'. But most of all I believed. And that easy routine that myself and Tim had developed as we walk towards the twilight of our relationship - it was gone. It was the urgency, that tumbling belief - he just might do this. He might beat Hewitt.

And then, in a flash, it was over. He'd lost.

I'd probably have dealt with it a lot better if I could have put it down to Tim's performance. If I could say that the third set was lost because of the natural inconsistences that have become part of the parcel of watching Tim. But - the disputed (and incorrect) line call on 30/40 when Tim was 2-1 ahead in the third? No, I can't do anything with that other than get mad and yell at the tv. Because it's something I can't rationalise around. Just like I still haven't quite gotten my head round Tim losing the semi-final at Wimbledon that he most likely would have won if the BBC hadn't played around with its schedule. Obviously I'll never know either way. But each time - it's a line call, some rain, an earlier start - it's the little things that allow me to believe that one day it will be different. One day it will happen.

And, through a few days of tennis and a little bit of blistering form, Tim has given me something that I may come to rue in the following weeks. He has given me hope. Painful, raw but undeniable hope. And if the faith is different than it was, then it's still there and most likely will be until the last time that Tim walks out on court.

In short? I'm buggered.

1 comment:

cat said...

yup, me too. on all those counts. Cx