At least I didn’t quit playing sports while I was avoiding gym workouts: I was on a tennis court 12 times and a squash court three times. The aches and discomfort were definitely bearable. However my tennis game suffered, and I became very discouraged.

Unfortunately this weakened fitness period coincided with two doubles tournaments I entered and did poorly in. In the September 4th effort, my team lost all three matches and came in 17th out of 18 teams. A slight consolation is that two of the teams we played ended up in first and second place, the tournament winning duo including a tennis coach, and the runner up had a player who’d been ranked high in New England 40 years ago. The third competitor also boasted one of the top club players in the area who competed successfully in high school and college.

The best news was being told that my serve was the weakest part of my game—a total reversal of the earlier praise by others that my serve is my best weapon. So I will put more effort into improving it—should I make Andy Roddick my serve hero?

This particular competition was very interesting. Called a Court Prive, it is played on nine different private courts. After each match, which is concluded after one team wins eight games, you drive to the next location. The organizers spend quite a bit of time arranging for the courts, the players and the teams, which were mostly mixed. But they were out of women by the time it was my turn for a partner, so I was one of the three teams comprised of two men. All great fun, and a joyful sunny party afterward. The warm weather is greatly appreciated, because this has been among the wettest summers in recorded history. One black cloud was that I heard some of the losing players were a bit gruff at times. I want to talk later about the importance of winning at amateur sports.

One of the major happy distractions recently is the hours I have spent watching the US Open. Very exciting. I am totally addicted. As I watch the pros move, I can see them doing things that I should be doing…at a less powerful, more modest pace of course. And it has helped a little. I love watching to such a degree that other stuff gets deferred or not done at all. Like writing these words. Thank goodness the matches were canceled today due to rain. But I am determined once again to recover my strength and my discipline. With my kids back in college, I can be a tiny bit more in control of my time.

During these last six weeks, we did give the older guys on Tuesdays a bit of a match (ha ha): out of eight sets, we won four. This brings our summer total to winning five sets out of 20! Should I remind you that one man is 93, and the other is ONLY 78 (I had been under the impression that he is 84 or 86…Nope! He is much younger). They are both terrific placers and lobbers—if they get to the ball, they mostly put it where we ain’t, and our side is dead meat. Those hip replacements barely handicap these men at all. It’s ridiculous how successful they are.

One satisfying round was this past week. My partner didn’t make it, and I played alone against the two older men. Winning one set was quite satisfying, especially when I was duplicating a stroke or a motion that I’d seen on TV from the US Open.

After my victory, the elder player said that he’s told his partner to go easy on me. He was smiling teasingly, and I will never know if he was just kidding, or they both felt sorry making me run all over the court. Personally, I think I beat them while they tried their hardest. What else should I think!

I’m also feeling that part of my problem at tennis is an improper grip. The racket rotates too often. I practiced squash with a friend and had no problem at all holding the raquet correctly. My shots were often beautifully executed, particularly my backhands. So I re-examined my tennis racket grip and felt it needed some modification. It appeared to work when I tried holding it a bit farther away from the butt. I noticed that Todd Martin did that at the Champions Cup matches in Newport. I will refine and practice this new grip and also bend my knees more to add spring (and thus power) to my serve. It looks so do-able on TV.

The whole process is quite exciting—now that I am no longer discouraged. I am going to write about a real reversal that lifted my spirits. Yes, my right arm is sore after each tennis match, but I at least am more optimistic after two sessions with the trainer. “Time and rest” is what one doctor said it would take to heal my ankle, after I injured it on May 12th. It’s good enough to play on these days, but still has some aches. I am working on recovery for my right side each day now. And my brain is also healing from the setbacks and frustration. Stay tuned. I will overcome…