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The Intersection of Tennis and Love at Dartmouth Explored Through ‘Challengers’ and David Foster Wallace’s Writing



The Intersection Of Tennis And Love At Dartmouth Explored Through 'challengers' And David Foster Wallace's Writing

Recently, the connection between tennis and love has been brought into focus, particularly in the context of Dartmouth College. Dartmouth sophomore students have found inspiration in the writing of David Foster Wallace and the 2024 tennis drama film ‘Challengers.’

David Foster Wallace’s exploration of tennis, as showcased in his essay ‘Roger Federer as Religious Experience,’ has resonated with many students at Dartmouth. The intense and strategic match between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon in 2006 has captivated audiences and raised questions about the parallels between tennis and relationships.

One of the key figures in ‘Challengers’ is Justin Kuritzkes, the writer who draws inspiration from real-life tennis events and relationships. The film’s narrative explores the intricate dynamics between characters like Patrick Zweig, Art Donaldson, and Tashi, mirroring the complexities of love and competition.

In the film, Tashi delivers a poignant line likening a tennis match to a relationship, specifically referencing her match against rival Anna Mueller at the junior U.S. Open. The notion of two opponents understanding each other completely during a game resonates deeply with viewers like Dartmouth students.

Dartmouth’s social scene, often centered around games like pong, echoes the themes of power and competition present in both tennis and romantic relationships. The fast-paced nature of interactions on campus can sometimes resemble the intensity of a tennis match, with wins, losses, and unexpected twists.

Survey data at Dartmouth indicates a prevalent hookup culture, where relationships are perceived to be transient and focused on physical attraction. The parallels between the emotional highs and lows of playing table tennis at Dartmouth and navigating romantic relationships are hard to miss.

As students engage in social activities and dating, the lines between competition and connection blur, mimicking the complexities of tennis matches where victory and defeat are often separated by a fine margin. The intimate relationships formed at Dartmouth reflect the nuanced interactions seen in both tennis and on-campus social dynamics.

Reflecting on David Foster Wallace’s introspective writing in ‘Infinite Jest’ and Harper's Magazine, students at Dartmouth are challenged to explore the roots of self-competition and personal growth within the context of their own relationships. The intersection of tennis, love, and personal fulfillment continues to spark conversations and reflections among the Dartmouth community.

Rachel Adams

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