Those of you who have been following along with me for a while know that I left my Thursday night tennis league two years ago. I won't rehash the reasons (you can find them here) but let's just say I was eager to end what had become an unpleasant experience. The "I miss you at tennis" came in an email from Roy, one of the good guys in that league, and I miss him too. But instead of further bemoaning my past, I want to salute the present and my new tennis home.
I fell into a new league almost immediately after leaving the old one. I first joined a large pool of substitutes for the Monday evening group, but within half of a season, I had become a regular. We fill up three courts of men's doubles in an indoor season stretching from September to May.
And it is a pleasure! Now, I have to be the first to say that my status as one of the worst (maybe THE worst) player in the league has followed me from Thursday nights to Monday nights. While my net play on most nights has definitely improved, my backhand has degenerated apace. Whether I go one-handed or two, my baseline backhand shots follow a weak arc that often leaves them short of the net. And there are some servers whose power and spin I still haven't figured out how to return.
But you know what? NOBODY CARES! While technically this is a league, which means that scores and standings are kept, I have never heard them referred to. Not even once. The guys are intent on playing their best, having fun, and not really worrying what the results are, or how many shots their partners have blown. After all, we trade partners after every set, so if my whiffs hurt you in one set, they will be to your advantage in the next. And miracle of miracles, no one complains about line calls! Maybe a raised eyebrow over an obviously blown decision, but that's about the sum of our arguments.
So as not to be too much of a Pollyanna, I do have to point out a few downsides. It is hard leaving my nice warm house on a frigid winter night for our 8 pm start time. And finishing up at 10 pm I am usually eager to get home rather than spending some time having a beer with the guys at the tennis club. A collision a few months ago with the league organizer, a linebacker-sized guy (and a great dancer!) laid me out for several weeks with a strained hamstring. And I seem to play way too often on the middle of our three courts, spending half the night fielding errant shots from the other two courts.
I'll never win a tennis trophy (unless it is one of those dreaded participation ones that breed overprotected kids,) but hey, I am out there to have fun. And I get it in this league. Thanks, guys. I am back in love.
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