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Tennis turnaround

To explore the idea that good can come from bad experiences.

by The Revd Guy Donegan-Cross

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To explore the idea that good can come from bad experiences.

Preparation and materials


  1. Ask two volunteers to come to the front to play a tennis-based game. This can be seeing who can keep a sponge ball bouncing on a racket for longest, or batting a ball into a bin from several paces. Congratulate both, whether they win or lose.
  2. Ask who likes tennis. Show the picture of Andrea Jaeger as a young tennis player. Tell her story using these facts: Andrea is an American who became a professional tennis player at the age of 14. She got to the top of her game, playing in the Wimbledon final in 1983 and the French Open final in 1982. She was ranked number 2 in the world, and earned 1.4 million dollars.

    But at the age of 19 she got a shoulder injury. She had seven operations, but still the shoulder could not be put right. She had to retire from tennis, and her parents were devastated.

    But, far from being defeated, Andrea, who is a Christian, saw her injury as a sign from God. She said: ‘I knew it was God saying, “OK, now we’re going to go and help kids together”.’ She sold her expensive car and gave the proceeds to charity. She set up a charity to provide long-term care to children with cancer. She has donated 2 million dollars herself.
  3. Show picture of her as a nun. In September 2006 Andrea became a nun – her life has completely turned around. ‘I have tried to be true to the person God moulded me to be,’ she says.

    Andrea could have been defeated by having to give up her tennis. But she saw it as an opportunity from God to do something new.

    The Bible says, ‘God works for the good through all things for those who love him.’ Christians and many other people believe that good can be found in any situation.
  4. Optional story: There was a man who lived in a village in China. Although only a poor peasant farmer, he was considered very well off, because he owned a horse which he could use for ploughing and transport.

    One day his horse ran away. All his neighbours commiserated with him and exclaimed how terrible this was, but the farmer simply replied, ‘Perhaps.’

    A few days later the horse returned and brought two wild horses with it. The neighbours rejoiced at this great good fortune, but the farmer just said, ‘Perhaps.’

    The next day the farmer’s son tried to ride one of the wild horses; the horse threw him and he broke his leg as he hit the ground. The neighbours offered their sympathy for his misfortune, but the farmer said again, ‘Perhaps.’

    A few days later government soldiers came to the village to take young men for the army. They rejected the farmer’s son because of his broken leg. When the neighbours told him how lucky he was, the farmer replied, ‘Perhaps.’

Time for reflection


Have you ever seen good coming out of bad, as Andrea Jaeger did?

Can you try extra hard to look for good things today – even where you don’t expect to find them?



Dear God,

Thank you that you can bring good things out of bad.

Help us to trust you whatever happens to us.



‘Morning has broken’ (Come and Praise, 1)

Publication date: April 2007   (Vol.9 No.4)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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