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The Revival Hour Cometh

Get out your Bible and your book of hymns. It’s time for a religious experience! It’s time to turn away from sin and death and follow the path which leads to new life!

Now that the imagery has been sufficiently planted in your mind’s eye, let’s discuss this old-fashioned revival hour in the Heartland of America. An evangelical preacher could certainly relate to what Caroline Garcia and Petra Kvitova have done in Mason, Ohio, at the Western & Southern Open.

Human beings can and do stumble through years of questioning, searching, pursuing. They aren’t comfortable, and for a period of time, they might not know exactly what they are doing. Their grand plans have been derailed. Life has not unfolded the way they hoped. Plenty of frustrations and what-ifs become part of their thought world and their daily experience.

It is easy to lose faith in such moments, especially if moments turn into years.

Caroline Garcia and Petra Kvitova can both identify with that larger reality. Garcia’s career has been adrift for several years, her immense potential left unfulfilled. Kvitova was attacked in a home invasion and had her life thrown into utter chaos, on the brink of death and, short of that, professional disaster.

Both women could have quit. They could have given up. They could have been shaken or traumatized in ways which were debilitating.

Yet, they love playing tennis. They had to love tennis. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be in this Cincinnati final.

It came from nowhere — especially for a long-dormant Garcia (Kvitova did make the Miami quarterfinals this year, and she made two 1,000-point QFs last year, so at least she has made some occasional stirrings; still, it’s not much compared to the player we once knew) — and has delivered a feel-good final. One player who has spent oceans of time trying to rediscover lost magic will lift a championship trophy at a significant tour event.

Julius Erving, a Hall of Fame basketball player and an American sports legend, said that professionalism means doing your job on the days when you don’t feel like it. One could amend that statement to mean that loving tennis means putting in the work even it is not rewarded with victory or conquest.

How much doubt, how much uncertainty, have Garcia and Kvitova needed to conquer before arriving at this moment? They kept at it, because for now, they’re still professional tennis players. This is what they do — and love — even on the days when they don’t feel like doing it. That love of tennis had to carry them through their struggles and, in Kvitova’s case, life-threatening trauma.

It’s great to see faith and love rewarded. Sounds like a religious experience to me.

Let the Old-Time Revival Hour commence on Sunday! Bring your Bible and hymnal if you want to.

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