My Tennis Resolutions

There are two types of people. Those who like New Year’s resolutions and those who don’t.

I’m firmly in the camp of resolvers. I love envisioning a new and improved version of me, one in which I’m flossing religiously and filing all my paperwork away and running 10Ks and drinking juiced kale for breakfast. That me is friggin’ awesome.

About a decade ago, in the days leading up to New Year’s, I made twenty-six resolutions. I had to write them down just to remember them all. I had all the bases covered—weight loss, housework, writing, exercise, learning a new language. I drew up a giant chart with colored markers and stocked up on shiny gold stars. It was all so exciting and promising…

…until January 1st came and I had to execute this monstrous self-improvement plan. I spent all my waking hours trying to keep on top of my chart, constantly checking to see which tasks were still uncompleted and feeling inadequate every single minute of the day. It was exhausting and dispiriting, and the chart was in the trash by the end of the week.

The key, of course, is to shoot for small changes—and not too many of them. Every year my resolutions shrink in size and number. Two years ago, I resolved to never leave a hair appointment without setting up the next one. Not exactly inspiring, is it? Nevertheless, that small change has stuck and has made my life marginally more manageable. That’s probably all we can reasonably expect from a resolution.

By now I feel like I’ve mastered this resolution business, which is why I was surprised to see that I didn’t make any tennis-related resolutions on this blog this time last year. How can that be? It surely isn’t because I have nothing to improve. I could have resolved to poach more, or learn a drop shot, or play more singles. I could have resolved to upgrade my tennis wardrobe. (Yes, you can steal that last resolution, if you want.)

This year, setting a tennis resolution is trickier since my shoulder is still frozen and I don’t know when I’ll be able to play again. But after a little reflection, I’ve come up with these three:

Resolution 1. Do my physical therapy twice a day, every day. Is it cheating if I’m already doing this? I don’t care. I’m including it anyway.

Resolution 2. Write a blog post at least three times a month. That’s a pretty low bar. Remember when I was churning out three posts a week? I must have been on crack.

Resolution 3. Be kind to myself when I play. When I get back on the court, I’m going to suck—and when I suck, I get negative. But what I’ve learned over the past couple of months is that sucking on the court still beats not sucking on the sidelines. Going forward, I resolve to just be grateful that I’m playing and enjoy.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Do you have any resolutions, tennis-themed or otherwise? What do you hope to achieve in 2020?

Gongoozling in the Digital Age

Have you forgotten our new vocabulary word already? Gongoozling means to be a spectator. (It also means something else which is NOT the subject of this post.) Go retake our vocab quiz if you need a refresher.

My (now frozen) shoulder still has me sidelined, so instead of playing yesterday, I gongoozled. I couldn’t watch my own team—they were playing an away match and I didn’t have time to make the trip. Instead, I watched one of my club’s other teams play its home match. Such inspiring tennis!

Here’s something I noticed yesterday, and not for the first time. I was talking quietly with another gongoozler when I overheard someone say, “Oh, wow—great shot.”

I looked back to the court, but of course I’d missed the whole thing. “No matter,” an inane voice in my head piped up. “I’ll just rewind it.”

You know, rewind. Like we can do with live television now, whether we’ve programmed the DVR or not. Just hit that handy left-facing arrow button on the remote and you get a second chance to see what you missed while you were busy googling what language is spoken in Greenland (West Greenlandic, English and Danish) or checking on the state of your cuticles (deplorable).

Only, much to my dismay, it turns out that real life doesn’t work like that. There’s no remote. If you missed it, you’re plum out of luck.

Probably in the dystopian future, when the world is so saturated with security cameras that no inch remains unsurveilled, we’ll be able to open an app and see a replay of anything we want. I figure it’ll work something like this: I set my time parameters (e.g., the last 3 minutes), point the phone camera at the area I want to see, and voila! I’ll have a replay of Eileen’s perfect poach.

But until that glorious day arrives, we’re mostly stuck in a you-snooze-you-lose reality. Better pay attention, bub, because this moment is happening one time only.

As I indicated earlier, this isn’t the first time I’ve come face-to-face with my bizarre belief that I can rewind real life. Almost always, it happens when I’m watching a tennis match in person. I’ve tried to explain this experience to other tennis players, only to have them look at me with an unmistakeable mixture of pity and concern. Apparently, I’m an anomaly. Or we could say I’m exceptional, which certainly sounds better.

Mostly it just amuses me when these mental blips occur. But they’ve got me wondering whether I’ve become a less attentive person overall. It’s clear that I’m less attentive during television shows or online because I don’t have to be attentive. As a kid, I was completely absorbed in Scooby Doo or Happy Days because rewinding live television wasn’t an option. If you missed it, you missed it. My default setting, like everyone else’s, was attentive.

Today, when it comes to television, my default setting is inattentive (except for Breaking Bad, of course). It’s especially that way when I’m watching tennis matches, because let’s face it, it’s hard to stay riveted when Rafa is toweling his face, kicking clay off the baseline, touching his shoulders, nose and ears, and picking his shorts between every point. He finally serves…and it’s a let. He gets another ball and starts his OCD ritual all over again.

The amount of actual high-quality tennis action in any match is small, compared to the time eaten up with unreturned serves, double faults, face mopping, ball sorting, ball bouncing and changeovers. And my attention, like everyone else’s these days, is frayed. As much as I love watching tennis, I multitask and daydream and end up missing some quality points. I have the luxury of doing that because of that wonderful little remote.

All that’s fine, until I find myself adrift in real life without my trusty rewind button. Fortunately, in most environments, my rewindlessness doesn’t affect me. I had a long walk in the snowy woods with my dog this afternoon, sans cell phone, and I was fully present, no need for a rewind. So all is not lost.

All I have to do is recapture that mindfulness on the tennis sidelines, in my new role of gongoozler.

Have you gongoozled any matches in person lately? Did you momentarily—even just for a nanosecond—have the instinct to reach for the remote and rewind something? (Please? Anyone?) Is the only solution to my inattentiveness less television? (Nooooo…..)

Holiday Tennis Gifts

Happy Cyber Monday, guys!

If you’re tackling your online holiday shopping today, check out the gift shop at the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

The shop stocks some nifty tennis-themed items, like Sugarpova candy, adorable ball-and-racquet cheese spreaders, fun hair ties, tote bags, vintage tennis can thermoses, and much more. They’re perfect for that special tennis player or blogger in your life.

Of course, they’re also good for treating yourself, if you’re into that kind of thing…which I am, so enough blogging. I’m going to shop!

(And, no, I don’t earn any money when you order. I’m still waiting for this blog to turn into a cash cow, or even just a cash hamster.)


The Word Nerd Quiz

Did you know November is National Novel Writing Month? Participants in NaNoWriMo, as it’s commonly called, commit to writing a 50,000-word manuscript in 30 days. If you haven’t started your novel, it’s not too late—you’re only 1,666 words behind. (Unless, of course, you’re reading this on Sunday, in which case you’re 3,332 words behind. Better get busy.)

I should have no trouble tapping out 1,666 words a day since I’m again sidelined from tennis. More shoulder woes. I’m hoping it won’t take too much longer before I’m back on the court. In the meantime, I’m relegated to the lesser role of gongoozler.

Isn’t that fun to say? Gongoozler! As you’ve no doubt surmised, it means spectator. You can also use it as a verb—gongoozle—but after looking that up online, I’ve discovered an alternate meaning I’d prefer not to invoke. I’ll leave you to uncover that particular definition on your own—I am NOT going there.

Yes, I know. Now you want to go there. Fine. I’ll wait while you go google it…

(Ick, right? Why is there even a word for that?!)

I, for one, am not about to let the pervs usurp and distort this wonderful word. I’m going to say it with pride, or as much pride as one can muster sitting on the sidelines watching everyone else have all the fun. I’m the gongoozler!

Over the last week, I’ve learned a slew of other excellent words, courtesy of Joe Gillard’s Little Book of Lost Words. And because I’m always thinking of you, I’ve done the hard work of digging into this collection, identifying ten fun and useful words to throw around at our tennis matches.

What’s more, you’ll be able work these words into your NaNoWriMo manuscript. Now you only have to write another 49,990. You’re welcome.

Learning new words is fun. You know what else is fun? Vocabulary quizzes! Because nothing says weekend like a pop quiz.

The Vocab Quiz

Fashion Face-off: Best Dressed Woman at the US Open (2019)

Right now I’m settling in to watch the women’s finals. What better time to nominate the three women who will vie for our coveted best-dressed award?

Sadly, neither Serena Williams nor Bianca Andreescu will receive a nomination. On the other hand, they’ll each walk away from today’s match with at least $1.9 million. That should help soften the blow. Continue reading “Fashion Face-off: Best Dressed Woman at the US Open (2019)”

Serving After the Tiebreak

The other day, one of my tennis buddies said to me, “Let me ask you this question because you know more about tennis than I do…”

I’ve lived long enough to know that nothing good ever comes from that set-up. My face-saving instinct kicked in right away.

“What?! No, I don’t know a lot. I just write about it and pretend I do.”

We had a chuckle and then she asked her question. Naturally, I didn’t know the answer. I’m not sure I even got the question–something about the difference between clay court and regular tennis shoes.

This is why you never set yourself up as the expert. You will be humiliated. Continue reading “Serving After the Tiebreak”

Andy Murray Is on Tennis Channel Right Now

Any Andy Murray fans out there? After hip surgery and fearing he’d never be able to compete again, he’s back playing doubles on grass at Queens Club in England, a warm-up tournament to Wimbledon. I just happened to turn on the Tennis Channel–and there he is!

They’re still in the first set, so go turn it on!!!

Powerball Tennis

Have you bought your Powerball ticket yet? If not, don’t bother because I’m going to win.

The grand prize for tonight’s drawing is expected to be worth $750 million, but I’m going to take the lump sum of $465.5 million. I have big plans for that money.

Of course, while my accountant’s quite good, even he isn’t going to be able to save me from a hefty tax bill. $465.5 million minus 37% to Uncle Sam leaves me with a paltry $293 million.

I’ll set aside a sensible $20 million for my retirement needs: healthcare, food and boring crap like that. And I’ll also set aside $100 million for my daughter. (That seems like enough, right?)

So I’ll have $173 million left to play with. Here’s how I plan to divide it up for the ultimate tennis life: Continue reading “Powerball Tennis”

Do You Remember Algebra?

If a > b and b > c, then a > c.

Remember that nugget? That’s the transitive property of inequalities. (I’ll confess I had to look up the name of that one.)

It’s common sense, right? 10 is greater than 9, and 9 is greater than 8, so 10 must also be greater than 8.

It’s always and forever true in math. In tennis, not so much. Continue reading “Do You Remember Algebra?”

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