Title: The way I want to be remembered
Written at: August 29, 2007
Summary: What if Shitenhouji was offered the chance of letting some of their regulars attend the Junior Selection Camp as well? Due to Shiraishi’s refusal at going, Watanabe plays a match with him in order to let him understand his own skills more.
Theme: The idea of a bind on Shiraishi due to him playing perfect tennis, and showing that he could still be very good without perfect tennis.
Word count: 1869

“Do you boys want to make a bet with me?” Watanabe Osamu said as he took out a form from his seemingly neglected filing cabinet and placed it face down on the desk. “Shiraishi is going to enter and charge to the filing cabinet, ignoring us completely, to search for this.”
“What will happen if you lose?” Kenya asked.
“The loser must treat the winner to lunch.”
“There is no way that I am going to accept your bet.” Chitose said. “Face it, Sensei, you are not exactly trustworthy. Beside, I think I can guess what you did.”
“Young people these days…” Watanabe said in seemingly despair. “I can’t believe the next generation is like this.”
“Hey, Shiraishi is…” Koharu began but quickly stopped talking at the mere sight of Shiraishi’s face- the last time he saw his friend with that expression was when he mentioned Tanako Ashita on the day Shiraishi decided to break up with her.
Without any word of greeting to any of them, Shiraishi marched to the filing cabin and yanked it open, then start flipping the files with an uncharacteristic force.
“Looking for this?” Watanabe asked merrily, waving the document at Shiraishi, it was the form saying who the two players Shitenhouji would send to participate in the Junior Selection Camp were.
If this was anyone other then Shiraishi, then the document would be immediately snatched out of Watanabe’s hand. But by now, Shiraishi realised that his actions were not suitable for the buchou of Shitenhouji, so he opted to cross his arms instead.
“Why is my name there?” he asked with a smile that was clearly forced. “I am sure that I wrote Chitose Senri in that square.”
“Well, a coach’s job involves correcting mistakes made by the buchou.” Watanabe declared out in a rather self-sacrificing tone.
“A mistake?”
“We should naturally be sending our best players to the Junior Selection Camp, but this is not what you plan to do.”
“Sensei is right.” Chitose admitted. “You are still better then me even without your perfect tennis.”
“And it’ll be more fun if you come!” Kintarou agreed, earning a dark look from his buchou, who was contemplating whether he should begin to unwrap his bandages.
But Kintarou was distracted by Chitose, who cried out in mock outrage: “I am not good company?”
“Well, you always say ‘Everyone, leave me alone, I’m trying to sleep,’ regardless of being on the train or the car.” The joking pair quoted sagely.
As he watched his own team mates begin another long discussion that was caused by the most trivial thing, Shiraishi could only sit down in resignation.
“And here is the consent form.” His coach said cheerfully. “Don’t forget to write your own name this time. You parents will be so proud of you.”
“I haven’t told them yet,” Shiraishi said with a sigh. “They didn’t see the letter. If they knew, then there is no way that I can not go.”
“Going to this training camp will be very good for you.” Watanabe said, as his voice suddenly turned very serious, the young boy immediately looked up. “I know why you don’t want to go, Shiraishi. You are afraid that people will think less of you if you don’t use your perfect tennis any more.”
“I have been playing perfect tennis for more then a year now.” Shiraishi pointed out. “It has always been better then my old playing style, and as I only recently start to play my old way again, I am worried that I might not do that well. I don’t want people to misjudge me by thinking that I am only good with my perfect tennis- because it is not something that I like.”
“By now you should have realised that the difference is not that wide. Do you not remember how you end up being the buchou in only your second year?”
“I do, but I am still worried…”
“Are you concern about losing without your perfect tennis, or are you actually frighten at the fact that you might end up using perfect tennis in order to prevent your self from losing?”
Shiraishi thought that it was ironic how people, including some of his previous team mates, tended to see their coach as being incapable when the truth was the very opposite. His coach managed to sum up his ongoing conflict by only using two sentences.
While his tennis skills were acknowledged and recognized ever since his first year in junior high school, his reputation was really built up due to his perfect tennis- people were wary of him due to that playing style, not the way he manipulated tennis.
His original plan was to spend the rest of the year practicing in order to make up for the past neglects, but this training camp was held too early.
What would people think of him if they see him losing without his perfect tennis? They would surely criticize his decision, and he was afraid that his pride would end up making him use perfect tennis once more to prevent that from coming true.
That would tie him to his perfect tennis even more, he was actually almost frightened that he might end up being too reliant with it, and therefore not being able to get rid of it.
Feeling someone tapping his head, he was forced to look up again, his coach had grabbed a spare racquet and was using that to tap his head in order to get his attention.
“We are going to have a match, you and I.” Watanabe declared out, his tone was very light, but it was clear that he expect Shiraishi to do what he just said. “If you still don’t want to go to the Junior Selection Camp after this then you don’t have to. I will tell everyone that it is my fault by writing the wrong name.”

The match between the captain and the coach of Shitenhouji’s tennis club naturally attracted a very large crowd- even people who did not know much about tennis was curious.
Shiraishi found himself recollecting what had happened in both his and his coach’s first year in this school. Upon being insulted by the two rudest member of the team that year, Watanabe had ended up beating them, and then announced that he would demonstrate his skills by playing the rest of the team as well.
“I really apologise for this, sensei.” His buchou had said politely as he stepped onto the court with his new doubles partner, being the last pair.
Beside him, Shiraishi bowed to the coach very respectfully, and the warm smile he received from the man made him felt more at ease. After witnessing all six of his senpai’s defeat, he did not think that he had any chance of winning, even if the buchou was his partner.
He then decided that this game would be for the purpose of testing his skills.
Was this what he was doing now? Shiraishi asked himself after he just managed to return the serve, his coach still seemed to be so skilled!
But he was actually not really worried about the result of the match. He didn’t think that it was because he didn’t believe he could win- he refused to rule out that possibility as there was always some sort of hope.
It was because he didn’t need to worry about the consequences of losing as much. This was something that has become too important for him. Wasn’t that what Ashita accused him of? That he was obsessed to the level that he felt he was committing a crime by losing.
It was such a great relief for him to be able to concentrate on a match without forcing himself to do so, because it was no longer so dull.
“Your skills have become much better, Shiraishi.” Watanabe commented. “You are scoring more easily this time.”
Wait…that meant he has improved even without his perfect tennis. So this was the purpose of the game! His coach wanted to let him understand that he should stop doubting himself.
In the end, he still lost. But he was actually feeling quite cheerful, as he had great fun, and he felt that he did all he could, with the exception of using his perfect tennis. Although, he admits, he would be in an even better mood if he won.
It was not as if he stopped caring about winning, it was just that he could stop feeling guilty for losing, since his lose would only affect himself. He would not mind as long as he had a good game with the knowledge that he tried his best.
“Thank you, Sensei.” He said softly as he went to shake his coach’s hand. “I am really looking forward to the Junior Selection Camp now, as I will be able to test my skills with others.”
“It is time for you to do what you want, Shiraishi, do what ever that will make you happy. By the way, Shiraishi,” Watanabe added in a more light hearted tone just as the boy was prepared to leave as he spotted his girl friend. “I should be rewarded for playing with you. Some of Tanako-chan’s puddings will be a good idea.”
“Isn’t it your duty to help me?” Shiraishi asked back in mock despair, although he was smiling even more now.
This was what his coach was like, he would only be serious when the occasion demanded it urgently, as he was someone who liked to have fun. Part of the fun was joking with them as this let him be free of the responsibility an adult was burdened with.
“Shiraishi, it’s pudding-senpai!” Kintarou yelled out, waving at him.
Beside him, Ashita was considering running away or covering her face somehow, as everyone was starting to stare at her, and some were actually laughing.
“Kin-chan, don’t call her that.” Shiraishi said with a sigh as he prepared to unwind his bandages.
“But she has brought pudding, and she is a senpai.” Was the innocent reply.
“Is this the only time you remember what that word mean?” Zaizen said dryly.
After forcing an apology out of Kintarou, he turned to greet his girlfriend by pulling her into his arms. Since the day he first met her, pudding was her favourite food and she loved making puddings. Since they didn’t taste bad he never needed to complain.
“I want one too, pudding-senpai, I mean, Tanako-senpai.” Kintaoru said, pulling at Ashita’s sleeves.
“I should get one as compensation,” Chitose stated.
“Kuranosuke will naturally have one since I made them for him. Watanabe-sensei will have one too,” Ashita began, since there was no way that she could find a way to refuse him when he was yelling out “I want whatever food you are giving to your boy friend as a compensation for practicing with him.” from the other end.
“As for the third one…you can have it, Kintarou, as long as you stop calling me pudding-senpai.”
“Thank you.” Shiraishi whispered to her, knowing that she would understand what he really meant.
“By the way, Ashita,” he added, “I am going to attend that Junior Selection Camp…”

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