NOTE TO READER: I am not obsessed with the sport of Tennis. I do enjoy playing now and again. I thought this would be a good idea for a blog. Some of my thoughts and photos based on something I personally enjoy. Tennis.
Tennis - A metaphor about the challenges we face daily.
Tennis is a microcosm. A metaphor. A description. For what? For everything. For life. It's a process. A workout. A sport. A challenge. For the best players in the world it's not only a calling, it's actually a job. Why do we make the things that we are best at into jobs? Perhaps that's another blog topic unto itself. But the crux of the matter is this: If Tennis is life and life is an experiment. That makes tennis an experiment. How? By keeping score. How is life an experiment? I'm constantly* trying something new. Are you?
To be fair, I am not a "good" tennis player. Serena Williams would stomp me with both hands tied behind her back. Also to be fair, I'm probably better than most of you that have never played! Ha. I've never been the best at anything, not many of us can say they have. I'm going to go out on a limb and say this at the risk of sounding like an ass, "I am above average in most basic life events and that includes driving". Wow, I said that. Cocky. Allow my bad self to continue.
I'm going to describe how I play tennis and how I view my game play as a marker for the multifaceted problems or challenges we face daily. Let's begin. Now close your eyes. Wait, if you close your eyes, you won't be able to read this anymore. But you may be able to imagine for yourself a sunlit tennis match as a description for our lives, the ups and downs, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Ok, maybe. Let's at least try...
I don't play regular sets with the traditional french** scoring like 15 - love, 30- love, 40 and deuce. Scoring in tennis is different than most sports where the actual points are called as a different point value. It's easy but I prefer to play like ping pong and Spinal Tap. I go to 11.
It's zero-zero instead of love-love but you still must win by 2 and each play starts on the 3rd volley after a serve (ping pong style) and a return. This creates a much larger volume of strong volleys that allows much more consistent hitting practice. I thrive off the quick turn around and fast paced play of this style scoring. I still like to play a best out of 3 sets minimum and go up from there if time permits.
The ball goes back and forth. Placement, timing, positioning, jockeying, breathing and focus are all required but not every single swing is intense like the swings that went down at the 2010 Wimbledon match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut, which was the longest pro tennis match in the history of the sport. The match lasted 11 hours and 5 minutes. Now that's intense. I'm just trying to get some good exercise and have fun doing it. I usually add tennis onto my weight training routine when the courts are dry enough and the puddles aren't too in the way.
There are times when I miss a shot and I know that if given the chance to try again, I'd nail it. Sure enough, the ball comes back in just that same way and angle exactly the way I was mentally seeing it. There's my chance and I focus in on it with the previous failure as my guide, my teacher and it's a great feeling to hit that ball just right and score.
I don't play to win or lose although I am a competitor and I love to win. I play to get better. Better at not just the game but healthier, stronger, more agile and to build up my endurance. Hand-eye coordination is a good thing last I heard. I'm always working on that. I take my game one point at a time. Yes, there's a big picture and a strategy to almost everything. But each plan can be broken down into an individual move. Hit the ball deep, stretch the court. Just tap the next one in all gentle like. Touch is how it's described. Give it some "touch". These are just a few individual moves you can make out there. Keep em guessing. Keep the speed of your strikes changing as much as you can. Keep em guessing. Keep em busy running and working on the projects you are serving them. Keep em guessing! Stay in control or take what's coming your way, that's up to you. But in this life we almost always lose control of our game and end up on defense. Running from the front to back, side to side. Flopping lobs, hitting the sweet spot and playing rinky dink is all just part of the game. Timing makes all the difference when you flop a lob to the deep end of the court. Placement and timing run the show. That's my game and it's flawed I'm sure of it. But having a blast while always improving my game, is my game.
I was wondering about how to spell racket the other day and so I went and found this on the internet:
Racket vs. Racquet
Racket is the standard spelling for the paddle-like device used in net games such as tennis. Racquet is an alternate spelling used in certain contexts, especially in names (e.g., West River Health & Racquet Club) and in reference to the sports of squash and racquetball. In tennis, racket is the preferred spelling.
So at least we've all learned something here!
Life is like tennis. Sometimes you run up to the front of the court too fast and trip on the net. In the process your racket bounces off the top of the net and right into your face. This could be serious and sometimes it is, but this time you just got knocked the fuck out and not one person actually hit you. This was self sabotage. Life can get like that. Just hit you out of nowhere when you weren't even asking for it! Be strong, be aware, swing hard and true. Breathe. Tennis can be very tiring especially if you aren't lazy and actually try to return every ball you can. The act of trying will make you suck air and see spots. This is my ritual. Enjoying the exertion. Relishing the challenge of moving my soreness at a break neck pace. Being sore. I took that spill and not only do I have a pretty nice red cut across my chin, I got some bruising happening for sure. I feel like an apple that fell out of the cart in the grocery store parking lot. Nothing (more) wrong on the inside .. but my outside is pretty lacerated.
I'm Ok and feeling lucky to have come out with only some scrapes and cuts. I was seeing stars, numb and stuck inside a tunnel far under the sea right when my face collided with my racket but I also rolled like I was ducking for cover from a grenade. I was the grenade. A few years back on the same court I watched my good friend Greg take a similar dive onto the court. He shattered his clavical. Shattered. It was so much worse than it even looked. Just the wrong kind of dive onto the court was enough to break those shoulder bones into tiny pieces. We took him to the hospital and watched his recovery. That was real.
Surely then I knew that although tennis was just a game, all our actions in this life have a consequence, good, bad or indifferent. I took a racket in the face and I'll take it again if that means learning something I can use to be better. I need all the help I can get and it didn't even hurt that bad!
When you are ready we can talk about spin. That's a whole new ball game. MH.
*I reserve the right to hold my own definition for "constantly". In this case constantly = when I'm forced into or tricked into (happens almost constantly)
**french scoring. I only assume the scoring for tennis originated in France because of all the love and deuce talk. The french are very passionate. I could be completely wrong on all this. Another idea is the egg is like a big fat zero, the french love eggs, therefore love is zero.
Photos by @RjMcKinnon