Fear and Acronyms, Part 2

The first match is over, and that monkey is off my back. (Crap. How am I going to gracefully transition from the monkey metaphor to the ball-striking machine metaphor? I’ll just have to start a new paragraph and hope no one notices.) Continue reading “Fear and Acronyms, Part 2”

Fear (and the Acronym Challenge)

Tomorrow’s the day. My first tennis match in a year. Butterflies? Maybe one or two.

I shouldn’t have any butterflies at all. My league has decreed that this strange, once-(hopefully)-in-a-lifetime pandemic season won’t “count.” A year from now, when the 2021-2 season begins, it’ll be like 2020 never happened. Don’t you wish you could say that about all aspects of this year? Continue reading “Fear (and the Acronym Challenge)”

Little White Ball

Now that the leaves are off the trees (and hopefully off your lawn) and the summer clothes are packed away, a New Englander’s thoughts naturally turn to golf.

Wait—what?

Yup, I’m posting a golf essay on a tennis blog the day before Thanksgiving. Why would I do that? Four reasons:

  1. Golf is just a metaphor for Important Life Lessons.
  2. The essay does mention tennis. Three times, in fact.
  3. The theme feels Thanksgiving-y, in a counting-your-blessings kind of way.
  4. I needed to clear the cobwebs off this blog and post something. This is what I have on hand.

Continue reading “Little White Ball”

Confidence Crises

Finally!

On Sunday, Rafael Nadal finally won his first clay court title of the year–in fact, his first title on any surface this year.

And–finally–we have a new blog post! I have been remiss. Inexcusably so, but let me offer some excuses anyway. First, I was taking a novel-writing class, so I was spending my creative juices elsewhere.

And two, I just wasn’t feeling it. I wasn’t sure I had the bloggerly chops to tackle some bigger topics. I wasn’t sure the blog even mattered–to me or to anyone else. Out of nowhere, I was having a mini-crisis in confidence.

Which brings us back to Rafa. (You know everything eventually goes back to Rafa.) Continue reading “Confidence Crises”

The Beetle and the Ballboy

Here’s a little fable that played out at the Australian Open this morning. Top-ranked Novak Djokovic was playing Daniil Medvedev, seeded 15. Djokovic was up a break and receiving serve at 5-2.

A beetle on the baseline caught Djokovic’s attention. He bent over and flicked it with his racquet a couple of times, trying to move it off the court. Then he tried picking it up while a ballboy stood a few feet away. Unsuccessful, he finally stepped back to let the ballboy take over. Continue reading “The Beetle and the Ballboy”

Three Ways I Overthink

Thinking is a real asset on the tennis court–except when it’s not. For me, thinking sometimes gets in the way of playing. My conscious brain gets in gear, and my shots go all to hell. But as they say, recognizing that you have a problem is the first step to solving it. Here, then, are three situations where thinking is my enemy. Continue reading “Three Ways I Overthink”

The No-Warm-Up Warm-Up

A while back, I was at a club as a member of the visiting team. We took the court and proceeded to warm up for our doubles match. The woman I was hitting against seemed to be, well, terrible. Her groundstrokes had nothing on them, little powderpuff balls. When I tried to warm up my volleys, her shots either landed limply in the net or sailed over my head. The few that actually made it to my racquet felt like little marshmallows.

Frustrated, I briefly considered saying that I would warm up against my doubles partner. The league rules allow this, but I’d never seen it done before. I pretty quickly decided against it. For one thing, we’d already used up most of the time allotted for the warm-up. I couldn’t very well start the warm-up over, could I? Anyway, my partner and I were obviously better players. Maybe the warm-up, or lack thereof, didn’t really matter.

But the real reason I didn’t request to change warm-up partners? I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. By saying that I wanted to hit with my partner, I’d be essentially telling my opponent she wasn’t a good player. I couldn’t see how to get what I wanted without making this stranger feel bad. Continue reading “The No-Warm-Up Warm-Up”

The Dreaded Yips

True story from last week’s matches: On Thursday, my partner and I won a match. Afterwards, she complimented me on my serve which had set her up perfectly at the net.

Two days later, we played another match. When it was my turn to serve, I tossed the ball and it went sailing over my head. I caught it and started again. Same thing. The third toss was almost as terrible, but how many times could I catch the ball? I hit it, and unsurprisingly, the serve landed two feet wide.

And so it went for the rest of the match. Toss, catch, toss, catch, toss, fault. I had a case of the yips. Continue reading “The Dreaded Yips”

The Art of the Non-Answer

Here’s something interesting I noticed during this year’s U.S. Open. When the younger pros walk down the stadium corridor and stop for the pre-match interview, they listen to the question and respond appropriately. The more experienced player? Not so much. Continue reading “The Art of the Non-Answer”

Taming Butterflies

When I think back to my first year playing league tennis, one thing stands out to me more than any other–my nerves. Every match morning would be the same. My brain would be buzzing. My breathing would be shallow. My arms and legs would feel heavy and uncoordinated. Worst of all, my stomach would churn, and I’d make an alarming number of trips to the bathroom.

Not only did I struggle with nerves, I struggled with embarrassment over being so nervous. This was just recreational tennis. All the women in the league have careers, families, bigger issues in their lives. But telling myself that nothing was actually at stake made no difference. Neither my brain nor my gut believed me. Continue reading “Taming Butterflies”

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