Tennis has been very important in my life. And I'm not even particularly good at it.
When I was eight, away at camp, a racquet was put into my hands. It felt so right. I won the tennis medal there every year until my last. Alas, at the tender age of fourteen, I experienced being upset in the finals by a lad from Brooklyn whose main interest was basketball. I will not disclose his name. (It is not De Blasio. We are of different generations and he never went to jewish sleep away.)
At Andover I was not good enough to make the varsity. At Yale I played for my college (Calhoun). In my senior year we won every match against the eight other colleges. Boola Boola!
During the thirty years of my first marriage, we lived in Harrison. I played tennis at County Tennis Club in Scarsdale, part of a bunch that gathered at seven forty-five on weekend mornings to wait for the courts to open. Two of my present lunch group were with me at County. One I have known for 75 years, the other a mere 69. A third luncher was in my first indoor Westchester game 50 years ago.
After my divorce (we won't go into that; this is about tennis), I moved to NYC. Farewell County, hello Midtown. Starting in 1977, I played singles with my eldest son. I took his measure, then we were even, then he mostly won, then he always won. Then he gave me the alleys, then he gave me anything that went over the net, no matter where it went. And still he wins. That is all he can give me.
Now, at 87, I play weekly with my two sons and a fourth. I so look forward to those Wednesday mornings. I am the weak link but i don't muck up the game. I return serve and then let the three of them battle for the point.
Advice? Keep your eyes on the ball and move your legs into position. Don't believe me? Ask Nadal.
I am pleased that I have never joined those who like to follow a hard little ball around acres of greenery. It takes them half a day; they don't sweat; they can get extremely upset with themselves; and it can cost them plenty. They do love it though, God bless them. There are only so many tennis courts. At times I wonder how much longer will I play on them.
However, when I go to heaven, I'm bringing my racquet.