Tennis anyone? Don’t ask me; my partner and I are retired
Posted: Friday, May 4, 2012 8:00 pm
By: By David Critchlow Jr.
Much like the popular book and recent blockbuster movie “The Hunger Games,” there could be but one victor.
And as big screen boxing champ Apollo Creed said to longshot contender Rocky Balboa after a bruising battle, “Ain’t gonna be no rematch!”
While a recent tennis match held locally may never be sold for book or movie rights, the local event had all the makings of big-time competition. That is, except for the fact that it was an insignificant match involving four mostly out-of-shape competitors in their 40s whose Glory Days are long gone (if they ever had any in the first place).
Personally, my Glory Days — better make that Glory Day — was getting three games off of the top high school tennis player in Jackson in a tournament almost 35 years ago. Unfortunately, he rained on my Glory Day Parade by announcing to friends afterward that the only reason I got those games was because he was afraid of stepping on caterpillars that had inched their way onto the court.
With some history in the game, though, and after more than a year of working out on a treadmill, I figured I would be in good enough shape for a doubles match. How hard could it possibly be to play a couple of sets?
After a little pre-match banter, my partner, whom I’ll call Tim, and our opponents, whom I’ll refer to as Lynn and Gordon, convened at the local courts amid a huge crowd of about six people and two dogs. (I think four of those were waiting on a court to open up.)
My partner was the last to arrive, so our opponents graciously offered to help me get warmed up before he got there.
As the oldest at almost 50, I was appreciative they would be so kind as to help me warm up my aging muscles.
Before long, I was warmed up and almost worn out.
Thankfully, however, my partner soon arrived and the match began — very poorly. We lost the first set 1-6. Ouch! My partner and I weren’t speaking to each other and our opponents were laughing and enjoying the evening tremendously.
Playing as though we were slogging around in hip boots, it appeared we were destined for humiliation.
Swapping “I’m sorrys” with each other, my partner finally said, “We can’t let them do that again or we’ll never hear the end of it.”
In the second set, we matched the first set’s output by winning a game early on. Then we got a second and a third, fourth and fifth. We were actually playing for a set, which we claimed 6-4. Whew! I was glad it was over. Each team had a set and we could quit.
“Not so fast,” one of our opponents said. “Let’s go on and finish out the match.”
My whole body drooped (more than usual).
It had been at least 25 years and an equal number of pounds since I had played three sets and I wasn’t ready for the challenge — physically or mentally.
Fortunately, my partner and his aggressive net play carried us to another 6-4 victory. We had won the match — albeit in what certainly appeared to be slow motion to the yawning spectators.
A bungled high five and fist bump later, I limped off the court with no interest in a celebratory beverage. I wanted a hot shower, an Advil, an Icy Hot patch for my back and lots of rest.
While others admitted soreness, our opponents also started talk of a rematch.
While we said, “You’re only as good as your last game,” and, “We have nothing left to prove on the tennis court, so we’re going to work on our golf games,” they became more insistent that we needed to give them a chance to redeem themselves.
“OK then, let’s make it an annual event,” I said. “See ya next year.”
“You’ve got to give us a chance to get even. Let’s play next week,” they protested, using a few unprintable words along the way.
“Just wait ’til next year — like the Cubs,” my partner said.
As they stalked off mumbling and grumbling, my partner and I agreed to retire from competitive tennis. Besides, next year’s calendar is already booked as well.
David Critchlow Jr. may be contacted by email at email@example.com.
Published in The Messenger 5.04.12