If you haven’t played organized sports, there is a chance you aren’t familiar with Title IX, a law that went into effect in 1972 requiring universities that wanted government funding to fund men’s and women’s sports teams equally. This meant that collegiate scholarships that were previously only available to men were suddenly available to women as well. One of the first to take advantage of this was a woman by the name of Sally Ride, a nationally ranked tennis player who transferred to Stanford on a tennis scholarship. Within six years at Stanford, Ride received bachelor’s degrees in English and Physics, and went on to get her master’s and a PhD in Physics as well.
This alone is quite the accomplishment, but her story only gets better. Ride happened to see an advertisement in the school paper; NASA was looking for candidates to be potential astronauts. Incredibly she went on to be the first American women in space, going on two missions aboard the challenger and later serving on the Presidential Commission that investigated the Challenger crash of 1986. Ride became a hero and an inspiration to girls everywhere proving that anything was possible. All of this came to be because of the opportunities she got from tennis and Title IX.
While Sally’s experience was not the conventional path, it goes to show that tennis can bring so much to a person aside from the mental and physical advantages we always hear about. Whether playing socially, in college or at the pro level, tennis is a great way to meet people you otherwise never would and build networks. In addition, depending on the level you play at, tennis can allow you to travel and see the world, or in Sally’s case beyond.