Dude! It’s just tennis.
I play tennis a lot. It’s really my only form of exercise, so I don’t feel bad about it. It may not be as effective as running or a triathlon, but I enjoy it. Accountability is the biggest thing. If I don’t show up, the others can’t play. I didn’t have to learn a new skill, either. I played growing up, so after a few months of ugly tennis, I felt like I sort of knew what I was doing.
That being said, I try not to take it too seriously. Sure, it’s a competitive sport, with scores and everything. I’d rather win, but if I don’t, I probably won’t think about it once I’m off the court. I may wonder what I could’ve done better and take a lesson or remember something stupid my opponent did, but tennis probably won’t affect my day.
It did once. It was the fall of ’89. We were in seventh grade. Our neighborhood tennis team (go Neely Farm!) made it to the city finals. A friend’s uncle let us borrow his limo, so we could ride to the match in style. Who cares that it was a 70s Caddy Fleetwood in a handsome burgundy with matching interior? We knew we were fancy. We even had coordinating shirts and side pony tails.
We all played our matches, and I remember it being close. It came down to the very last team playing. After everyone finished, we waited, as patiently as teenage girls can wait, for the officials to total the scores.
The other team won. We cried.
Our moms tried to console us, but it didn’t work. We started adding the numbers in our head and couldn’t understand how the other team came out ahead. According to our numbers, it should’ve been a tie. Mandi, a dear friend and one of the most competitive (and she wins a lot!) people I know, offered our evidence. So we waited again.
It was a tie. In our books, we won. We cried again.
After a limo trip through the drive thru at McDonald’s (we thought we were sooooo funny. I’m sure the McD’s employees did not agree), we drove around town celebrating our “win.” We were only about twelve years old, so that was pretty much the biggest thing to happen to any of us.
I guess maybe why that’s why tennis doesn’t matter as much anymore. I mean, I’m not getting paid to play. I’d assume that some of my opponents are, though. With the way they get so mad about a loss or are so particular about rules, it seems they might need a few more hobbies.
There is a standing rule regarding cell phones. I get it, I really do. They are disruptive during match play. Just as phones shouldn’t ring during weddings, they don’t have a place on the courts. However. Many of us are young mothers with school aged children. If the phone is on silent, what’s the harm in checking for missed calls or messages when we change sides? Oh, that’s right. We could maybe possibly be receiving coaching tips. Listen, lady, any coaching tips I’d get over the phone wouldn’t help anyway. None of my friends scolded over this rule planned to use it for evil. They even warned their opponent of a sick child and asked permission to glace every so often. Many were told a blatant NO. That must be a big paycheck you’re getting. It’s just like we’re at the US Open, except that we’re not.
For the most part, I just don’t understand the seriousness of it all. It’s recreational tennis. It’s fun and, good exercise, and nobody’s asking for my autograph.
Another thing I find hilarious is the trend to shorten the scoring system. If you’re unfamiliar with tennis, the scoring goes love(which equals zero), 15, 30, 40, and game. For years, people have shortened 15 to just 5. I’m even guilty of that. So the scoring, if only one team earned a point, would now be love, 5, 30, 40, game. Tennis scores haven’t ever made much sense, but at least it still goes in order.
Fast forward to today, the days of acronyms and too-busy people. They (meaning serious-ish tennis players but not pros) have shortened the score again. Now it’s love, 5 (fifteen), 3(thirty), 4(forty), game. Now that doesn’t even make sense. I know. It’s just oh-so-exhausting to say the whole score. FIF-TEEN. THIR-TY. FOR-TY. Phew. I’m wrecked. Enjoy tennis for what it is: a hobby and a fun way to exercise. If you’re fortunate enough to win, then good for you! If not, go drink a beer. If you still can’t get over your loss, have two. Or THIR-TY.