Since I blogged about Wimbledon yesterday, I may as well record for posterity my personal experience with playing the game.
Cuppa's sister and boyfriend got into tennis around the mid-seventies, and Cuppa and I decided to try it as well. We bought a couple of cheap rackets — Chemold was the brand name — and used them when we could. There were courts nearby, and we'd sometimes even hit the ball around sans nets and lines on our quiet street. Thesha was still a toddler, but she was a model child in many ways. We could take her to the courts, and she'd amuse herself for as long as necessary, so we were able to play quite a lot.
We didn't play anyone but each other most of the time, but when we got together with Cuppa's sister and her boyfriend, Paul, we'd have a game of doubles. The results were more or less even as I recall. Then, I would play singles against Paul, and, much to his disgust, I usually managed to win. He was certainly more impressive on the court with harder shots and more foot speed, but I seemed to manage to keep the ball inside the lines longer. If I hit it back to him a few times, he would plunk the ball into the net or send it long or wide, and I would win the point and then the game, set and match.
Then came the Althegal years and our withdrawal from the game. Althegal was not the type to amuse herself quietly for long, so we couldn't set her in a corner and hit the ball for an hour.
A few years later, however, I learned that a neighbour of ours, Mike, played, and we got together for a trial game. Fortunately, he proved to be better than I was. I say fortunately because he gave me the opportunity to improve. He wasn't so much better that he couldn't enjoy playing against me, and he never allowed himself to take it easy on poor AC as I continued to lose. We played frequently, sometimes for many days in a row, but it took me quite a while before I even won one set. Once I did win the first one, I was able to be competitive with him on a fairly consistent basis.
We continued to play most days during the next summer as well. We kept a record of our matches, and it was very close over the season, but Mike maintained a slight edge. However, when the third season arrived, I began to win more than lose. He was a more consistent player, so he'd still win if I was not playing up to form, but if I played well, it seemed that I would emerge victorious. We played a lot that spring, and then summer arrived. By summer, I mean that school ended, and I was on the long summer break that teachers enjoy.
However, on the very first day of our long summer vacation, a very unfortunate thing happened in the evening after Mike and I had played a great match in the afternoon. On a very routine movement while warming up with Althegal and her softball team, I badly sprained my ankle. Very badly. So badly that I was forced to spend almost the whole summer sitting in my recliner with my foot up. In fact I was just beginning to be mobile when school started up again in September. (Oddly enough, the ankle that I sprained way back then has come back to bother me these twenty or so years later.)
Mike was forced to find other people to play with that summer, and we never engaged in our private competition very much after that. We'd both still play, mostly doubles with a group of guys who showed up at the club at one o'clock every day, but it was never the same for me. I missed the intensity of our singles matches. Then, after a few years, back, ankles, wrists and elbows began to act up, and I decided to hang up the racket. It was really a very bad back attack — bulging discs — that brought me to a full stop. I missed almost two months of work in late winter and it wise to never try to play tennis again.
I have learned through that experience, however. As much as you enjoy something, you can move on and get involved with other things. As the old saw goes: when life hands you a lemon, make lemonade. There is really no alternative, not a viable one anyway, but my tennis days were over: game, set and match.