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For the ‘love’ of the game, it may be time to retire from tennis again

For the ‘love’ of the game, it may be time to retire from tennis again

Posted: Friday, April 26, 2013 8:00 pm
By: By David Critchlow Jr.

For the ‘love’ of the game, it may be time to retire from tennis again | David Critchlow Jr.

Love and tennis go hand in hand, with the word “love” even used in the scorekeeping.
Obviously, whoever came up with that didn’t have the local men’s tennis league in mind when he introduced the word “love” — as in playing “for the love of the game.”
Monday nights at the local courts have become more of a war zone, with many of the players — and I use that word loosely — resembling patients at a M*A*S*H unit.
On any given night, curious spectators will see a variety of braces, including some for the knees, ankles, elbows and wrists, moving in what appears to be slow motion around the tennis courts.
Those braces don’t even take into account the players currently on the injured reserve or disabled lists with anything from abdomen pulls to a torn meniscus.
While not generally considered a contact sport, our brand of tennis is full-crash contact — with fences, nets, posts, racquets and fellow players.
This group definitely lives by the “No Pain, No Gain” motto, but I wouldn’t expect any corporations to jump on board with an advertising campaign using that slogan and our tennis games for their promotions. A couple might consider us to promote their products, however, such as Icy Hot Medicated Patch, Walgreen’s Heating Pads or even Geritol.
So why do it?
Excellent question and one I keep asking myself.
Decades ago, I thought I could play tennis.
“It’ll be just like riding a bicycle; you just have to get your timing back,” a prospective teammate told me about playing again. “And it’s fun and it will be a good way to get in shape.”
I am a half-century old, but I was told the other players were around my age, with some being in their 60s. Many of them were newcomers to the game — some even carrying an extra pound or two — so I was told I would fit in well with the competition.
He had set the hook and reeled me in.
After the first two matches, I was thinking I shouldn’t try riding a bike out of fear that I couldn’t do it anymore, either.
I got whipped both times and dragged down two different partners in the process.
I felt like the Washington Generals playing the Harlem Globetrotters. I was running around in circles playing the bumbling fool while the opponents made a mockery of me and scored easy victories.
I was fully expecting one of them to top it off by sneaking up behind me and jerking down my shorts to the delight of the sparse crowd, which I think had gathered just to see if I would erupt during the match. Serenity now, I thought, serenity now.
I had one opponent inform me he had never won a game with his serve until he played against me. That was it. No more serenity. I would not go quietly. I kicked, screamed, stomped, smashed balls into and over the fences, thereby costing myself the sportsmanship award as well — that is, if the women attempting to play doubles on a nearby court had a vote.
But, just as I was about to “get my dauber down,” as my mother used to say, I found a partner who could make up for all my shortcomings on the tennis court and one who had experienced all my tantrums before — my brother.
And, as the saying goes, “Even a blind hog gets an acorn every once in a while.”
Or, in relation to this story, even the Washington Generals scored a victory once over the Harlem Globetrotters — like they did in Martin in January 1971.
“I did it; I won,” I exclaimed, knowing full well he’s the one who won the match for me.
Hopefully, I won’t have to wait another 40-plus years to get my next win.
Better yet, maybe I should quit now while I’m on a winning streak.
As the player who recruited me said, it’s about timing. And I believe it’s about time for me to retire.
Editor David Critchlow Jr. may be contacted by email at

Published in The Messenger 4.26.13

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