May 02, 2004
Saturday morning started off just like I expected it to – cold, overcast and miserable. I had counted on my noon doubles match with Ridglea to be called off due to court conditions. No such luck… I showed up at the club before eleven to help out with removing the standing puddles on the court. Thankfully, the wind was moderate and would help in drying off the courts though the gusts would play havoc with my game. But the way things have been going lately, it was to be expected.
Next the team captain showed up and informed me that I’d be playing Line 2 doubles instead of Line 3. For the uninitiated, Line 1 is where the best teams play followed by Line 2 then Line 3. With the problems that I’ve been having with my left leg and that rain cloud that has been following me around all year, I’d just as soon stick to the third line. But there was a silver lining in that dark cloud – I would be playing with Jim, my neighbor and good friend.
It’s always a joy to play with him, whether it is tennis, skiing or just goofing off. He has the uncanny ability to calm me down in the midst of chaos on my part. I can remember staring down a snow covered hill at Alta thinking that there was no way that I’d make it down alive. In my mind I was facing a black diamond slope when in reality it probably didn’t even qualify as an easy blue. But there was Jim at my side… “Ok, I want to see you do two turns – just take it easy, we have all day.” That accomplished, he wanted to see a couple more. A few words of encouragement, and a hand extended when I fell. Before I knew it we were at the bottom.
So after our warm-up we won the toss and elected to serve first. Jim tossed me the balls and said, “Good luck!” 15-0, 30-0, 40-0, game. At the end of the match I realized that I didn’t lose a single service game, and later found out that our 7-5, 7-5 victory was the single win for the club that day. Even in the heat of the match I never felt that our victory was in doubt.
Not that I’m a latter day version of Rod Laver… Oh, I’ve got a decent enough serve which seems to get better as the match progresses. By the start of the second set, the few returns that my opponents could hit back were easily picked off at the net by Jim. It’s just that I’ve got that 3.0 mentality that insists on trying to crush every groundstroke that comes my way coupled with a change to a semi-Western forehand grip. When it works it’s a thing of beauty. Unfortunately when it doesn’t work I’m likely to drill the ball into the fence at the back of the court. What probably helped the most during the match was that the games were moving fast enough that I didn’t have much time to think or to wind up to belt the ball. Yes, there are some shots that I wished that I had back, but overall I was pleased with my performance, happy with the win and grateful for the opportunity to play competitively with Jim as my partner.
The afternoon and evening revolved around my daughter and her 15th birthday. How time has flown! Pretty soon we’ll be looking at Drivers Ed schools and a third vehicle for the family. She’s turning into quite a remarkable young woman right before my eyes (though I was tempted to amend that observation at 2:00 this morning when her and her friends were horsing around upstairs). Even at this young age she’s become an accomplished musician and artist. We’re still not quite sure who contributed those genes, but we’re happy that she enjoys her artistic endeavors. It was a fun party though, attended by plenty of family and friends. Upon reflection it served to remind me that whenever I get to feeling especially blue it is those closest to me that always prove to be the best tonic.