Slice of Life: Hitting Balls Against the Wall

flickr photo shared by Bill David Brooks under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

I’m trying something new this summer, and it has nothing to do with teaching or creating or technology. This summer, I am trying to re-learn how to play tennis.

Yesterday, for the first time in many years, I grabbed my old tennis racket (which I bought in college) and a new container of tennis balls (which I bought from Target), and biked to our local park, where they have tennis courts. After ponying up for a year membership to use the courts (my commitment ceremony … now I have to go back at least nine more times to make it worth it), I signed out the court with a wall and spent the next hour hitting the ball back and forth.

I did OK. My arm and shoulder are sore this morning, so I guess I was using parts of my body that have not seen much use in recent years. I hit the ball over the wall, and the fence, about a dozen times, swearing at myself. But learning to get better to control, too. The walk to get the balls over the fence was sort of long, so I concentrated on keeping them in the court (it was hot outside yesterday).

My tennis years, if you can call them that, were sporadic and I won’t claim to have been all that good. But my roommate in one college urged me to get a racket and hit balls with him. Then, when I transferred, another roommate asked the same (it turns out he was a nationally-ranked youth tennis player in high school … he kicked my butt every game … but I got better just trying to keep up with his serves and hits). As an aside: cold beer tastes great after playing tennis on summer days.

What I like about the game of tennis is the rhythm of the movement of the ball and feet. When a volley happens, it’s magic. It’s sort of mesmerizing and trance-like. I also admit: I like the competitive spirit of the game itself. I want to win and push myself to do so. Even when I lose a game, which is often, I still enjoy it.

So now, I am trying to recruit some of my family members to play with me (and realized, yesterday, I forgot how to keep score in a game … need to Google it). The wall was fine — I found a rhythm — but I want someone else on the other side of the net. I am pretty sure I can convince my middle son (age: 16, and an athlete) to move from our garage ping-pong tournaments (we’re pretty even on the little court) to the tennis courts. And my wife said she would try it.

If not, I have the wall.

Peace (in love),

  1. I just read a post by Dave Burgess yesterday on “making” something this summer, or learning something, unrelated to teaching. I hope you get some buddies to play with you!

  2. Gretchen Rubin talks about the importance of non-work-related hobbies, too. Bonus that tennis is a physical activity! I look forward to another post on your progress at summer’s end.

  3. I haven’t played tennis in years, but I was just visiting my brother and my niece insisted on a game or two every day. Isn’t it a shame that playing tennis is not like riding a bicycle? I had to relearn the whole game.

  4. I played in high school and lost touch. Last summer I got racquets for the 4 of us and we play from time to time. It is a great family game. We laughed more than we hit– but that is okay. Enjoy!!

  5. I’m remembering spending a few summers with my friend Eileen playing our version of tennis. I took lessons as well. That first summer was so hot but we built in a great late breakfast after we had been on the courts. So much fun to play with a good bud!!!!
    Good Luck friend. How was the vacay?

  6. Good for you. Hope your family joins in.

    The last time I played tennis the Mets were amazing. Many years ago. Let us know how you make out…

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