“To err is human. To put the blame on someone else is doubles”. – Anonymous
There’s a lot of love in tennis, and not just the bad kind. I might not have recognized this had I not started my own company and needed to cut back on expenses. My husband and I decided not to renew our membership at the tennis club that had been my home for almost the last decade. We figured it was a pretty obvious place to cut back especially since a) it is expensive, and b) my husband’s teen daughter just came to live with us. Who knew kids were so expensive? Okay, every parent knows, but my experience had been limited to rabbits and guinea pigs that graciously do not care about fashion, grow out of clothes, or expect activities beyond eating and romping. For instance, none of my pets ever requested sushi for its lunch box. FWIW that request was denied, though I did compromise with a tuna sandwich. I needed to develop a stable clientele base, before it would be my turn for the extras. The decision was difficult, not in the logic of the choice but in my expectation that I wouldn’t see my friends every week, that I wouldn’t be able to whack a ball hard enough to relieve the stress of the day, that my contract and my league play were over. I didn’t think my teammates would mind all that much, as a tennis player I am pretty much the comic relief and without the choicest partners, my court typically does not hold the MVT (most valuable team) title in league play.
But then with the ninja skills of the managerial experts and engineers that they are, my teammates worked out the logistics of combining family and friend club passes, so that I could pretty much maintain my contract as long as someone met me at the door and signed me in. And contract time made me eligible for league that stipulates players must be a member of a club or in a club contract. I played out this great season relying on the kindness of strangers or more truthfully teammates.
Readers, you may not be able to share my friends, but you can share the love that is tennis. Need more incentive, read on…
The Top 9 Things to Like about Playing Tennis
1. a person can take up the sport for the first time at 40 and have a reasonable game.
2. a 20-something with all the stamina, energy, clear vision and healthy bones in the world can be whipped by a 70-year-old hip replacement candidate with angles and finesse.
3. you don’t have to do it on your own; you can play doubles and at least half the court can be someone else’s responsibility. Personally, I’ll defend ‘til the first broken fingernail, my 4-foot-square at the net.
4. you’ll meet nice people who feel that indulging in snacks and cocktails après match is integral to the game.
5. once you have a racquet, the game is mostly free in good weather, that may be 3-6 months depending on New England’s quirks of warmth and sunshine.
6. if you get hit in the head with a ball, it can knock off a fully clasped barrette or pop a lens out of your glasses or you can get hit in the chest by an overhead (I’ve experienced it all, and will name names (Kelly, Norm and Jim, respectively). It’ll hurt, but the ball is fuzzied rubber, people, it doesn’t have the long-term, death-effect of, say, a hard driven baseball or golf ball. Of course if you get hit in the head with a racquet, all bets are off.
7. The skirts and shorts are less ugly than bicycle pants and helmets.
8. You get some exercise without actually realizing it, too, much.
9. There are always stories to tell afterwards.
Short versions of my 4 most memorable tennis experiences….
1. Getting a first place tennis trophy at forty (my first sports trophy ever, actually this is the first sport I ever played competitively) in women’s doubles with Kelly.
2. The time all or at least 75% of the opposing women played very obviously bra-less and since half our team is male, we lost. Love the psychology of the game. But our guys refused to up the ante and fight back sans boxers or briefs. This year, someone stored her balls not in the highly awkward but at least orthodox panty-pockets, but straight down her shirt IN her sweaty tennis bra….that SNL skit about Schwetty Balls had nothing on this.
3. One opponent made endless phone calls during the match because he said his wife had just been in a car accident, but when we suggested we’d understand if he quit before the friendly match (typically played to use up remaining court time after a quick win (theirs)), he said, “Nah, she’ll be alright” and continued to play. Made me realize how great my hubby is!
4. Trying each year to invent a novel, ridiculously-crafted thank you gift
composed of tennis balls for our captain. Really stretches the imagination and creative talent I profess to have. Some people who have witnessed my game conclude that I only play to reap supplies and that has some credibility since I also throw them in my dryer when it’s full of down items; the beating of the balls makes for extra fluffiness and better dispersed feathers.
My teammates undoubtedly have their own reasons for their tennis obsession: getting away from the real world, constantly striving to improve, the thrill of the kill, but for me it’s all about the love match, oh, ya, and the snacks (Kelly makes a mean pudding cup.)
© 2011 by Alison Colby-Campbell