My first feel of the tennis racket and ball was in mid-2004 when a friend enticed me to try a new pastime – lawn tennis. At first, I must admit it was seeing men in white tennis shorts that lured me more than the game itself. I would imagine myself that if I don that attire, it could probably make me earn my confidence in the circle of some ‘honorable’ men who frequent the tennis court almost every afternoon. The court, by the way, is less than 300 meters away from the house.
And so for my friend’s sake, I was convinced to undergo training to learn the rudiments of the game which included building my stamina and learning the basic strokes. It took me a month’s rigid training before I can be paired with the other beginners. It was fun and there was some kind of regret in me that I had started this game late in my 40s.
I observed that a trainee has no place in the tennis courts during peak hours, that is early in the morning and late in the afternoon when the sun’s heat is most tolerable because the more seasoned players are given priority to play at this favorable time of the day– which means that if I had to squeeze through the courts, the only time for me is 11am to 1pm – the most enduring time of the day. It was no wonder that my brown skin had turned dark brown while I was on training.
My class “A” trainer was very diligent and compassionate with me. Even if I knew that I was not hitting the ball with the right stroke in the right form, he would tell me “oh you just need very little improvement and you will be doing fine”. He had to because my training program was a ‘packaged deal’. On my part I must endure the training, for after my interest dwindled in professional shooting and dart, this is the only sport/exercise available for me.
I think I was a fast learner and so in a month’s time I was already paired with much younger players who are also beginners like me. Skill-wise I think I was at par with them but being years older I am no match with their agility and stamina. Sometimes, I was paired with the lady players who were more experienced in the game than I was.
After two years (in 2006), I got sick with hypoglycemia (lowering of the blood sugar) and so I had to stop playing as sweating burns my sugar quite fast. From September of that year until a year later, I was just going in and out of the hospital. I had to rest and pay more attention to my medication, diet and mild exercise routines.
After almost six years (early 2012) and feeling fully recovered (I thank God so much for this), I tinkered with the idea that maybe I should try playing tennis again. After consulting my doctor, who advised me at first to take the stress endurance test, I was back into the pastime that I had just barely begun six years ago. This time, I had to do a lot of catching up if I were to play with my batchmates without them bullying around with me on the court.
By this time we had relocated from the City to our hometown which is more than a hundred kilometers away. I think the rural ambiance, so far away from the influence of fast-paced city life, was perfect for me. The only problem was where to find a tennis court and who would be my playing buddy as none of my 3 boys seemed interested in the sport.
It was a good thing, a nearby high school basketball court is no longer utilized as the pavement is full of cracks all over and gets flooded during rainy season as it is just leveled with the natural ground surface. I thought that with little creativity we can have a tennis court in this pavement.
We did some kind of planning with my son-in-law (married my daughter in June 2012) who was interested to learn the game. We had to pull some of the grasses growing from the pavement cracks, removed some top soil accumulating on the pavement, dig a shallow canal to drain the thin layer of water stocked on the pavement, bought paint and brush and searched the internet to get the standard dimension of a tennis court and then made linings all around. Ergo, we have a tennis court.
I often crack the joke to my son-in-law, that “if you can be good in this tennis court, I assure you, you can play anywhere – in Wimbledon (our court has grasses on it), in the French Open (there are some kind of hardened soil on the pavement cracks that act like clay), and in the US Open (the other part of the pavement that is not cracked is the shiny fast surface)”. LOL!
Our next problem is the net. The only place where we can buy one is in Davao City about a hundred kilometers away. Then we remembered a worn out volleyball net in the corner of the house. After some patching and repair we had a net at last.
Since a volleyball net has much larger eyes than a tennis net, we have to make good judgment as to whether the ball went over the net or through the holes. LOL.
Now, my son-in-law had been training with me for more than a month and he is already quite close to me.
Playing one-on-one, we always have a good match. I think my being a little bit more skilled and his being much younger is just right and fair for us – which means that (a) given his age advantage, we should not level off in skill, otherwise, it could be a mismatch, and (b) given my skill advantage, he should not be as old as I am now or it could also be a mismatch. LOL.