“How do you serve?” my son asked after a ping pong game. I have been playing on and off for maybe 60 years, and he is still an improving novice with one simple serve. I was able to show him five or six ways to put different spins on the ball at the beginning of my serve.

THEN THE LIGHT BULB FINALLY WENT OFF: My buddy Joe told me he plays “junk ball” tennis based on his earlier ping pong skills. He puts all kinds of spin on his shots, rather than hit the ball powerfully each time. He also lobs a lot to drive his opponents crazy. Some guys at our club refuse to play with Joe, because his unorthodox rhythm and unpredictable, unconventional spins drive them crazy.

So when I asked Joe to show me some different serves, HE SHOWED ME 27. TWENTY SEVEN!!!!!!!! I have only been using one flat serve and occasionally attempting a feeble alternate serve with some spin. But now I have all these choices to work on. And Joe also hit serves to me for half an hour, so I could learn how to lob them back over the net man. I was raring to go and try out all my new tricks.

Now can you imagine how thrilled I was today to play the best tennis of my life against my toughest opponents…doing lobs and more than one serve. My team won 6-4 and 6-1, and my net game was terrific. That makes six sets we have won out of 16 played in this weekly game in which I am the weakest combatant. Can’t wait for the next challenge.

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