Tuesday, June 21, 2005
So Many Sports. So Little Time.
40-Love: I'm watching extended highlights of the first day at Wimbledon, admiring the players' explosive shots and wistfully recalling how much I used to play tennis. This is Japanese player Ai Sugiyama playing Italy's Roberta Vinci (photo credit: Getty/A. Berehulak).
I love tennis. It's extremely satisfying to slam the ball in the sweet spot of the racket. I only took up the sport in the past few years. Though I started late, I was wildly enthusiastic about it, and played enough to where I got to be pretty good.
E., who played tennis at UCLA, and who grew up in a family of tennis fanatics, was my coach. The poor guy. I'd drag him out of bed on weekends and demand he feed me tennis balls and coach me on my backhand. For hours. I also played with B., a young Russian guy who was at my level, but a bit more experienced on the court.
Bex vs.The Russian: I just wanted to get a good workout, but he always wanted to beat me. A friendly 2-hour practice session usually turned into a heated match. Which was fine with me. B. was wily. He'd try to fake me out with slice and drop shots. But I had a strong forehand, and I'd drive the ball deep, just skimming the edge of the baseline, catching him off-guard.
The problem with tennis is that you can't play without a partner. And sometimes, B.'s schedule didn't mesh with mine or E. refused to get out of bed. Also, while tennis courts seemed to be on every corner in Southern California where I grew up, they're scarce here.
So you must get up at the a**crack of dawn to secure a coveted outdoor court. Even then, you could only have it for an hour if other players were waiting. Unless it's winter. Then, you have your choice of frozen tennis courts. I have played on a few ice-encrusted courts in my time.
And to play inside, one had to pay a hefty wad of cash for the privilege -- hundreds of dollars just to reserve an indoor court for a few measly months.
Not a team player: So I joined a local tennis league. That would ensure court-time. But that was oh, so brief. The women on my team were pampered, Type-A moms who didn't work, played tennis hours each day, and took the game waaay too seriously. I was expected to play matches three nights a week all over suburban D.C. when I was either still at work (6 p.m.) or should've been in bed (10 p.m.). Plus, we had to wear matchy-matchy outfits. Gag. Nope, I decided. Not for me.
I haven't picked up a racket in a year. Sigh. I want to play this summer. I really miss the game. Before tennis, I was into bicycling. I miss that too.
It seems that to get good -- really good -- at any sport, you must focus on one to the detriment of the others. What's great about running is its convenience. I don't have to have a partner or reserve a court weeks in advance. And I don't have to worry about fixing a bike or worry about it getting stolen (which has already happened once).
I just lace up my shoes. And go.