This has been a really long break in posting, but the evening/writing time has been spent watching the US Open…and the two political conventions, and visiting friends in hospitals. Also some business and social meetings. Of course there is the call of the wild tennis ball.

Eight days ago I played singles for almost two hours and then after a two-hour break, enjoyed 2+ hours of doubles. It was, I hate to admit, a tad tiring. My legs were weak, my right arm was sore. Passionate is fine. This was a bit much. So I will never do it again…uhhhh, at least not until two days from now, when I am scheduled for two singles sessions in the same day. But one is with a coach to show me how to hit a better serve. What I do for love…..

On Labor Day I lost in the finals of a club doubles tennis tournament, B Division. But at least we won two matches to get there. The trophy was a beautiful glass and chrome wine bottle stopper. I had watched numerous videos that gave me minute and subtle modifications of my ground strokes, and was then told by a coach to ignore what the videos taught me. My motor system is totally confused with all the new neural circuits that aren’t fully formed. In other words, I screw up a lot and miss easy shots.

One night I had dinner with a friend who loves wine and always brings his own special, expensive, tasty wine to the restaurant. I drank two glasses delightfully. That is a lot for me, and I rarely drink at all these years. I remember my capoeira master proclaiming that alcohol is poison for any athlete, and he never touches a drop, not even beer.

The next day after that delicious pinot noir, I felt zonked in practice and completely worn out in the doubles match. My partner, who is much better than I am, kept attempting to coax me into some semblance of awakeness. After our victory, he commented that I seemed to have no energy at all and the worst cut of all, said I was standing ready to receive “with my belly out and hunched over like an old man.” Oh the agony, the mortification. Nothing is worse than to act like my age. Finally I connected the wine to my sluggishness, and recalled my mestre’s warning about the woes of the grape. I must remember this warning forever, especially if I ever enter a bull ring again and want my legs to work…

By the way, I did face a 300-pound calf in a small Spanish bull ring once. A tienta (test of the bull’s spirit) and tourist attraction, where they give you the cape and let you handle a few passes. I don’t know who was more afraid, me or the calf. But it did step on my foot and scuff my leather shoe. I wore it to work back home in the office, remembering for months at my desk the thrill of a Hemingway-type moment.

Tags: , ,