Playing the Cyclical Game

Thursdays are match days, which means it’s time for another installment of the always-popular and long-running series, “How I Screwed Up Today and What Big Lesson I Learned.”

In this week’s episode, I was having yet another not very good day on court. Not horrible. Not the worst I’ve ever played. Just too many unforced errors caused by my very lazy feet. Is it possible my feet are aging faster than the rest of me? My brain says “Go!” and my feet are like, “But we just got here!”

Or, “We really need more notice than that.”

Or, “You go on ahead. We’ll catch up.”

(Spoiler alert. They never catch up.) Continue reading “Playing the Cyclical Game”

An Ode to Sore Losers

I hate losing.

I’m sure I’ve said elsewhere in this blog that I don’t care about winning or losing as long as I play well. That sounds good, and it has some truthiness to it. A loss certainly stings less when I’ve done my best to win.

But I still hate losing, and losing when I haven’t played well just plain sucks.

I suffered a loss like that on Thursday. Now it’s Saturday, and here I am still moping about it.

Does that make me a sore loser? Continue reading “An Ode to Sore Losers”

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.


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


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 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”

A Fear of Winning?

I’m a sucker for a good quote.

Athletes who’ve reached the pinnacle of their field have insights applicable beyond the confines of sports. A good quote offers a glimpse into the champion’s psyche, a peek at the steeliness that helped propel the athlete to the top.

But here’s a quote that kind of stumps me. Continue reading “A Fear of Winning?”

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