So here I sit writing my first blog……it’s sort of spiritual for me, a combination of writing and tennis too. Writing has always been something important to me, for the most part, the ability to write well and read well, in my opinion, is so very important in todays economy……but lets not get into this nuance, because this blog will always be about tennis.
Tennis is a game of life’s little and sometimes very big lessons. It’s about effort, gladiator style combat without having to actually hit your opponent (we are of course, a civilized culture these days so I hear), tactics, speed, skill, mental focus, and just plain ole grit. Now I’m not talking about going to the park style tennis, which I will write a bit about from time to time because I get a total kick out of watching spouses, boy/girl friends, you name it, hit together on a nice day at Gabriel Park…………I’m talking about tournament play, league play, WTT, private leagues, whatever your cup of tea for competitive tennis might be, but it’s when it’s me, you……a can of tennis balls, and something more than just pride on the line…….a standing, a point system, a ranking, some list, somewhere, that is supposed to define who is the best at the end of the day or month or year……
I’m an interesting tennis enigma perhaps, I did not grow up playing tennis…….well I sort of did I guess. Back in the mid to late 1970’s, as Connors and Borg dominated the game, I got a wood racket for Christmas. Jack Kramer. Then the elementary school was getting built too…..and there was a good sized cinder block wall……..which is all we had, because there was no tennis court in the little town called Talent…….and I was for whatever reason, enthralled with hitting the ball against the wall, bricks representing a certain shot, a certain outcome. In middle school, a new park was built in a nearby town with four courts, and summers for two years, we rode our BMX bikes over there with rackets tied to the handle bars to play during the summers…….but this is no rags to tennis riches story, because by the time I hit high school school, I was on to other things…….
Lets fast forward 25 years-ish, our oldest son for whatever God knows reason, takes a Skyhawk Tennis Camp……..and the counselor at Gabriel Park says he’s really good, how long has he been playing……and I say……..about 3 hours since he’s been here…….
What happens in the space of about 2 years from the above, I’ve got two kids in hit groups (our youngest decides he wants to follow big bro’s steps), and they’ve even “drug” me back into this game….which is not wood rackets, is power, is speed and is spin…….and crazy string materials technology…………and so I begin to hit some, play some, join a club, join a league, play a few tournaments, then play a lot of tournaments, and before we all know it, oldest son is a state doubles champion, younger son even better (sorry big bro, it’s true) looking at college tennis………and me, somehow with hitting with the kids, my friends, a few leagues or a lot, good folk at the local tennis club, my tennis thru it all progresses……..
I have played in USTA levels from 3.5 to 4.5 in league play, played tournaments from 3.5 to mens open level singles and doubles, watched 2 sons progress from giggling kids on the court, to super accomplished collegiate level players, and I’ve even coached high school tennis too………which I have so many stories to come, I could literally write for a month and not capture all the moments.
I even have a stringing machine in our basement, which I’ve learned is likely the most powerful tool in this game, the materials of string, the tension, the combination, and how this is the one thing the typical club player just doesn’t understand……..and yet I’m convinced it’s the one thing that the best players from high level junior on up, totally understand and misunderstand……which is another blog for another day too…..
We are back from a tournament in Corvallis this weekend. My body is feeling pretty good all things considered, 5 matches in two days, takes it’s toll even on the most fit, and I’m fit, but not anywhere near most by any stretch of my imagination……….lets see how Monday morning feels, been running the hills at Gabriel, sprint style, it’s my new secret weapon………lets see if it worked, and of course, it’s no secret now to the two readers out there……….