Title: An impossible opportunity
Written at: November 5-7, 2007
Summary: An explanation to why Shiraishi did not play in Shtienhouji’s first game in the nationals as well as a further exploration to what he feels in regard to his perfect tennis, and why he does this.
Theme: Why Shiraishi hides the reason of his dislikes from his team mates and the idea of no turning back once you committed yourself to a decision and action.
Word count: 2293
Note: In Genius 315, Shiraishi actually said that it has been a long time since he had a match. We know that he didn’t get to play in the quarter finals as he was the fifth person to play and Shitenhouji won all their first three games. The only other game they had was at the second round, since they didn’t need to play in the first round, it was against Okahura, a school in Hyogo (which is in Kansai as well). In that match Shitenhouji had a won of 5-0 as they all had to play as it was their first game. But due to what Shiraishi said, it seems that he was the one who did not play it. (I am completely disregarding their player number nine), he was the one on reserve. This then really make me wonder why? Why didn’t the buchou play?

The regulars of Shitenhouji were all really surprised at how fast Hyoutei was able to triumph over the school that managed to be fourth last year. But then Chitose’s presence was the obvious reminder that Shishigaku was lacking some of their most important members.
“You will probably be in this position if you stayed in Shishigaku.” Shiraishi commented to Chitose, when the two buchou were about to begin the final singles one game.
“I think Kippei would be the buchou.” Chitose replied back easily. “He was much more responsible then me.”
“And this guy?”
“You should know, your fuku-buchou last year slaughtered him.” Chitose pointed out before he made a prediction. “I don’t think he can hold out against Atobe Keigo for long.”
But the game was lasting much longer then Chitose’s forecast. It was true that Atobe was dominating over his opponent completely, but someone with his skills should have been able to end the game in a much shorter time.
“Don’t even think about it, Zaizen.” Kenya ordered, seeing that his kohai was about to say something cutting to Chitose.
“Atobe is not really attacking.” Shiraishi explained for some of his team mates, almost frowning, “He is doing this on purpose. He has to be, because his defence is very good.”
“But why?” Yuuji asked. “Why let it drag out for so long?”
“Yuushi once said that Atobe always play the game with a very strong defence in order to drag the game and wear out his opponents by attacking them with their own weaknesses in order to result in a sense of defeat in both the body and mind.” Kenya recollected.
“But what is the point? This is just as bad as deliberately losing the first few games in order to show off you skills by suddenly catching up.” Shiraishi said. “Years later…no, just months later, who will remember how the game of 7-5 or 6-4 was achieved? Will anyone still know that you actually deliberately lose the first few games and that once you made up your mind you did not let them score at all? Will they know that you could have done a 6-0 if you wanted to?”
His words were quite bitter as he was thinking about what happened to Shitenhouji last year. Despite his school having done so much better then Majinofuji, they would still be regarded as being exactly the same as they were both Rikkai’s defeated opponents.
That was why he was so determined to win for his school.
As bitter as it is, Shiraishi thought, the one who wins is the winner, while the others were all categorised under the same label: the ones who lost. And it is also too risky to let your own enjoyment cause this…as I had.

Kintarou automatically covered his ears while the other regulars all sighed. Many of Hyoutei’s club members turned to look…almost stare at their coach since his yell was still audible despite their loud cheering.
“We need to go over the order for our first game.”
The orders were always arranged by Watanabe but he would then go over them with the buchou, although Shiraishi rarely felt the need to change anything.
Today was different though, three spaces were still blank.
“We’ve played this school before and it is highly, highly, highly unlikely that we will be unable to get an overall score of 5-0.” Watanabe told him as he handed the list to Shiraishi.
“Singles 3- Zaizen. This is a very good idea as he will probably be the buchou next year so it will be good to let him have the first win in order to boost up his confidence as he rarely gets to play in a singles match.” Shiraishi commented as he began to read the orders.
“Doubles 2- Koharu and Yuuji. Singles 2- Gin. So you want to let that guy get his wish of playing with Gin again? Doubles 1- Kenya…why are the rest blank?”
“Because it all depend on your answer.” His coach told him. “As I emphasised to you, it is very unlikely that we will be unable to win the first three games, therefore, the people who play doubles 1 and singles 1 will have the knowledge that they will not harm the team if they somehow lose.
“So which one do you want to play? Doubles 1 with Kenya or singles 1, an even more secure position?”
“I can not believe that you are telling me to not care about winning.” Shiraishi said in sheer disbelieve.
“I am offering you a chance of not playing your perfect tennis since you will not have to be so concerned about winning for Shitenhouji. Although I doubt that you will lose because you are still very good without your perfect tennis.” Watanabe said bluntly. “Do you not want to have some fun in tennis again by playing in a way that does not bore you?”
“So sensei some how knows.” Shiraishi stated as he picked up the pen to write his name.
“I began to notice that you no longer have that same sense of excitement when you play and sometimes there is even dread in your expression. Most of all, you are not really happy when you win- the only explanation will be because you do not like that playing style.”
“It is boring, the most boring thing in the world. But I will continue playing it until the day I stop being part of Shitenhouji’s tennis team.” Shiraishi said determinedly as he turned the now completed form over in order for Watanabe to see.
“And this is your final decision?” Watanabe asked. “To put yourself as the reserve?”
“I must play my perfect tennis because my team mates will wonder why I do not play my best. I do not wish for them to find out that I do not like my perfect tennis…not only will this make them feel bad, it might also insult them as it hints that I think their skills are not good enough if I must make sure that I always win by playing a style that I do not like.”
“Wait,” Watanabe called out because Shiraishi was about to leave the room. “Tell me truthfully, do you think your team mates will do the same in your circumstance?”
“That does not matter. I am the buchou and I have been the buchou since last year. As the buchou I must always put my team’s interest over mine no matter what.”

The Hyoutei-Shishigaku match must have finished as he found Kenya practising with Zaizen in one of the empty courts.
“I get to play singles?” Zaizen sounded as if this did not really matter that much but his two senpai knew that he was quite thrilled.
Even though everyone in Shitenhouji with the exception of Kintarou could play doubles, the singles position was still quite fixed. Kintarou naturally always played singles since his wild style of playing prevented him from playing doubles. Shiraishi also always play singles and he and Kintarou tended to rotate the position of singles 3 and 1 between them, while Chitose usually played singles 2.
Of course, this order could be altered due to circumstances.
“Chitose-senpai is playing doubles 1 with Kenya-senapi?”
“Well, for Kenya’s sake I can’t really make Kintarou his doubles partner and since you and Gin will both playing singles…” Shiraishi laughed out before he quickly changed the subject to prevent either of them from suggesting the alternative. “Chitose is very skilled at doubles. I heard that he and Tachibana Kippei used to slaughter all in their path whenever they are paired up together.”
“Buchou, you sound as if you are playing a computer game.” Zaizen said dryly. “But Shishigaku does not seem that impressive.”
“Maybe most of Shishigaku’s best players, excluding Tachibana and Chitose, were third years last year. So they probably had a better team in the last national, a bit like Majinofuji. The opposite of us, as we have a much better team this year. That is why we must work really hard to be the winners because we have the capability of doing so.”
“Is that the order?” Chitose said this as his greeting when he approached them.
“Alright, I’ll find Koharu and Yuuji so our doubles players can play against each other, as well telling Gin to have a match with Kin-chan, then I will practise with Zaizen myself.” Shiraishi declared out.
“Kenya, there is something I’ve wanted to ask you for quite sometime.” Chitose said as they watched Shiraishi dragging Zaizen along with him. “Does Shiraishi not know how to play doubles at all?”
This arrangement for their practise did make sense since Koharu and Yuuji will be playing doubles in Shitenhouji’s first game, but it was quite strange that Shiraishi did not just ring these two and play a doubles match with Kenya and Chitose before Koharu and Yuuji arrives.
This was also not the first time such a thing has happened, nor could Chitose recollect a time when he actually saw Shiraishi playing doubles. Whenever the buchou of Shitnehouji practised with the joking pair, it would always be the two of them against him by himself.
“He is a much better doubles player then me and most others in the team.” Kenya said firmly. “He was a regular ever since his first year and he used to play doubles with our buchou throughout that year. He also used to play doubles against Koharu and Yuuji with Gin so I really don’t think that he dislikes playing doubles. But now that you mention it, the last time I saw him playing doubles was in our first year.”
“So why did he stop playing doubles once he became the buchou?” Chitose pointed out.
“Perhaps it is because of Nakakurai-buchou- he was Shiraishi’s doubles partner and Shiraishi really respected him.” Kenya finally said, although he himself was unconvinced by his own words as he quickly added: “But I don’t really believe that he would stop playing doubles completely just because Nakakurai-buchou wouldn’t be his partner.”

The real reason was because Shiraishi did not want to play doubles using perfect tennis, but as he told Watanabe- it would be too strange for him to not use the better way of playing. So he decided that the best way was to avoid playing doubles at all- not very difficult since a buchou was usually expected to play singles.
“Buchou, how come Kenya-fuku-buchou never asks to play singles?” Zaizen pointed out, interrupting Shiraishi’s thoughts.
“I think it is because he likes playing doubles much more then singles, even though he can definitely play singles if he want to as he is the fuku-buchou.” Shiraishi explained, referring to Shitenhouji’s famous end of the year match. “He’s quite like my own buchou.”
“But shouldn’t the buchou always play singles if they are the best in the team?”
Shiraishi did not know how to answer this seemingly easy question at all- his words of the most important thing being your enjoyment had to be swallowed as he himself was doing the very opposite.
But not only did held his buchou in very high esteem and respect, he also firmly believed that his buchou had been one of the best buchou he had ever come across, even though it probably would have been better for him to play singles 1 instead of doubles 1 with the first year.
Then wouldn’t his buchou actually understand why he might not choose to use his perfect tennis?
Before he became the buchou, the most important thing in tennis was naturally his own enjoyment. He did want to win, and he did care about his team greatly but ultimately it was his own desires that made his judgement.
He quickly gave up the idea of continuing to experiment with the idea of a perfect tennis as he did not wish to throw away his own enjoyment for what was only a slight improvement.
He rather lose then win with his perfect tennis because he saw no point in winning in anything if he did not approve or even like the process.
Then he became the buchou and made the mistake of only remembering that he was the buchou by deciding to let the benefit of the team override his own interest completely.
He felt as if he was turning into a machine- he would just get on the court with the intention of getting everything finished as soon as he could. It was not as if he liked dragging a game out as Atobe would, but he missed the sense of anticipation he once had. His dominate concern had to be about winning for Shitenhouji, not about whether he would enjoy a game or not. Like most boys he wanted challenges, but as the buchou he had to hope that the differences between the skills of himself and his opponents would be very vast in his favour.
Shiraishi was not still sure whether he might still make these decisions if he only becomes the buchou this year. While his views on the duties of a buchou did not seem to have changed, it was what happened in last year’s nationals that affected him so much.
But regardless of whether he would still have reach the same conclusion, it was simply too late. He could not change his decisions now because he already did the sacrifices his choice required him to make.
He could only continue walking this direction. This was why he would be the reserve in Shitenhouji’s first game, as the only way he could avoid playing his perfect tennis while he was part of the Shitenhouji tennis team was to not play tennis at all.

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