So in spite of a sore arm and wrist, my frequent tennis playing has improved my performance. I am still frustrated with poor shots, but there are now many more better ones. And by watching the lessons on the Tennis Channel—which finally arrived in my little rural town that was the very last one in the state to have cable offered at all—my serve has become more powerful and directed as well.

This is not just my opinion. In the last 10 days, four different people from much better doubles games have asked me to sub for them or someone in their group. This is a big deal. Only a month ago, when I heard that a member of one strong game was going to Florida for the winter, and I offered to fill in, I was told that “We’re not sure.” “I’m not in charge.” Etc, etc. It was polite evasion that really meant: “You’re not good enough for us. We want to find a better substitute.”

Now that same diplomat is asking me to play for him. And I feel honored. This is a breakthrough. Other people at the courts are getting the same impression, and suddenly a number of more advanced players are approaching me. I have made a certain cut. I am now “good enough” to try out with these guys. And some are already inviting me back for additional substitutions.

I told a friend how pleased I was that I was improving. He said that he was in the decline phase of his performance. He has been playing sports so vigorously for so many decades that although under 60, his body is wearing out, he hurts when he plays, and his tennis game is now getting worse. And knowing that he can’t improve, he feels his cavorting on the court is over. He’s turned to golf, where he can learn a new sport and enjoy progress and satisfaction. At tennis, he experiences decline, frustration and disappointment. It’s too upsetting to not be able to hit like he used to, place a shot where he wants it to go, make serves that are whammers instead of wussers.

I understand where my friend is at. Life is fragile. So are our bodies. This can be the exceptional case in which “if you use ’em, you may lose ’em.” A 74-year-old was walking around the court yesterday to warm up before our doubles game started. (I jog around the court twice to loosen my joints.) He said after the match that his aching Achilles heel prevented him from chasing after some balls. Later I received a phone call informing me that the pain intensified, and he will be out of action for months.

It’s obvious that if you leave the couch potato sofa and shake your booty a bit, you have a bigger chance of injury…though a lesser chance of heart attack from poor circulation. Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , , , , ,