PUMPING IRONY: Tennis Bum

True to my word (see previous post), I actually did pedal over to the local yoga studio with My Lovely Wife yesterday for a noon beginner’s class. And it went fine — except for the Eagle Pose, which probably takes a little more practice. But I can’t blame 45 minutes of yoga bending for my… Read more »

True to my word (see previous post), I actually did pedal over to the local yoga studio with My Lovely Wife yesterday for a noon beginner’s class. And it went fine — except for the Eagle Pose, which probably takes a little more practice.

But I can’t blame 45 minutes of yoga bending for my overall soreness this morning. It must’ve been the tennis.

A couple of days ago, my good friend M.E. e-mailed with the cryptic subject line “Tennis?” and asked, simply, “Do you play?” I replied that I was third singles on my Edgewood Junior High School team back in ninth grade (when the rackets were still made of wood and you needed that rectangular screw-down thingy to keep them from warping). I also played a bit in the mid-’80s and hit it around with my son, Martin, a few years ago when he was briefly interested in the game. I had never known M.E. to be a tennis buff; we played basketball together every week for many years, and he once won 30-odd consecutive games of driveway one-on-one against me and driveway owner S.C. — a feat he’s not shy about recalling more than occasionally. He did not share his own tennis resume; he simply was pretty anxious to get across the net from me.

When he picked me up last night, he had already stopped at a nearby big-box retailer to buy a new racket and two cans of balls — a move that immediately raised some suspicions. “What’s up with this tennis thing,” I inquired as we headed toward some unpopulated courts near Lake Hiawatha.

It turns out that his pre-teen daughter is taking lessons and some friends had dragged him out on the court over the weekend. Plus, he divulged that he actually played quite a lot of tennis back in high school (a decade later than me, BTW), and that he wasn’t half bad.

I should note here that M.E. is kind of a competitive guy. No, that’s not really accurate: He’s a very competitive guy. It’s not that he’s a sore loser, or anything. He just really, really, really likes to win. Back in our hoop days, he was the guy when the team was getting creamed who would yell, “Don’t give up!!!”

So, I’m thinking maybe we’ll just whack the ball back and forth for awhile, but he’s thinking:

Game. Set. Match.

Anyway, we get going a bit and it becomes clear pretty early on that he’s an OK player and that we’re pretty evenly matched. Neither of us are smashing aces or whacking winners down the line, though he does have a nice little drop shot and a backhand with some spin. And I’m pretty much content to try to keep the ball in play. (Actually, I’m kind of surprised that I could still hit it OK; it’s been awhile.)

But this is M.E., so we have to keep score. He wins the first four games, then we split the next two before my return catches the net at 15-40 in game eight. M.E. raises his arms in victory, I pretend to assume we were playing the best two out of three, he pretends to agree, and we gather up our stuff and head back to my place for a cold one.

M.E.’s already talking about recruiting S.C. and my son for some regular doubles play. That sounds fine to me. Tennis is a great whole-body workout (or so my body’s telling me today). But part of me is recalling those one-on-one games in the driveway and I can’t help but wonder whether we’re about to become part of another record winning streak.

 

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