The thwack in the sweet spot. The bright green court and the white net. The zen of a long rally, hitting the ball back and forth, back and forth, the lull, the tension, the lull, the tension, the rhythm. The soar of the serve, the aerodynamics of the toss, the bend of the body, the smash down the line.
Yesterday, I played tennis with my team. I'm on a woman's USTA team this spring. We played at the UC campus, at the courts on top of the parking garage with a view of the blue bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Tennis is one of my longest loves. My father taught me to play when I was nine years old. My father and I still get together for a set or two. He's 83 now and plays tennis at least four times a week. So tennis is in my blood. I taught my husband the game, and he can beat me now. I don't mind losing in tennis, but I win a fair amount of the time because I've been at it so long and hey, I'm pretty good! The important thing is the game, the joy of it, not winning. If I hadn't fallen in love with writing and books so early on, I might have tried professional tennis. However, you have to enjoy the pressure and competition if you take on that career. I like the competition, but socially, for fun, not when the stakes are high and the chips are down. Or maybe I didn't go into professional tennis because when I was twelve, I beat my first boyfriend, Tommy Knight, and he broke up with me. I waxed him two sets in a row and he never spoke to me again. My heart was broken. I climbed the walnut tree in my parents' front yard and sat there with a book and moped about Tommy. I'm sure I pondered what it meant: love, rejection, winning, losing. Should I have lost to him in order to keep his attraction? Nah. Soon, I was back out on the courts. Funny, I don't remember having a boyfriend again until I was sixteen, and he didn't play tennis.
I saw Andy Roddick play in a tournament in San Jose last weekend. I can't believe he's only number 6 in the world. His serves are, on the average, 127 miles per hour. He hits the ball so hard, he broke a couple of rackets, and I felt sorry for the ball, bashed to smithereens as it was. Andy is incredibly strong and limber, at once. In a word, awesome. No wonder he's a little cocky. He's at the top of his game.
It's great playing on a team. I enjoy the friendships with my tennis mates, sharing the beauty and grace of the sport. Something physical that takes 100 percent of your focus and energy. Tennis frees the mind and makes the body feel part of the air, the wind, the light. Part of pure Being. The Beauty of Being.
Causes Susan Browne Supports
Run Together, A Race to Raise Money for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society