This was my first week for tennis lessons. Lessons are being held at a middle school just down the street from my house and they are open to people 13 and up. So I was expecting that there were going to be twenty 13 year-olds jumping around everywhere and I would be the only adult in the bunch. That image in my head alone was enough to make me second guess this tennis lesson idea of mine. But, I took a deep breath and told myself I was going to go through with it all the way to the end no matter what. If there were going to be a gaggle of tweens taking over the tennis courts then so be it. A little patience and acceptance and understanding and patience and patience and more patience never hurt anyone. Besides, I've been trying to be a nicer person anyway. So bring on the challenge.
I got to the court and the instructor looked like he's about 13. He’s not of course. I would guess mid to late twenties. There were two teenagers there already, siblings. So I introduced myself and shook everyone's hands. Right off the bat, the instructor took a look at my ancient tennis racket and started making fun of it. I got this racket when I was 10 years old for Christmas. It was my pride and joy as a kid. I even slept with the thing for about a week after I got it. And I've managed to hang onto it for 22 years. Not only is it three times heavier than any racket made in the past decade but it is also a junior racket so the surface area is severely lacking compared to what I should be playing with. Oh well, I sucked it up and was ready to move on with lesson #1. Another very shy boy walks on the courts, followed by a middle-aged couple. There were now six of us present and ready for our very first beginner's tennis lesson. I was pleasantly surprised by the small class size and the diversity.
Day one consisted of basic grip and tennis ready stance. We learned and practiced forehand, backhand, and volleys...oh boy. Alex, our instructor stood on one side of the net to feed us balls while the six of us stood in a single-file line on the opposite side. One at a time, he gently served each of us two balls to practice each move. We ran through the hopper of balls practicing our forehand then it was time to gather them all up and back to attention to move on to the backhand. And on and on it went for an hour. It was no military line mind you. The siblings were competing on everything and bopping around our half of the court while everyone else took their turns. For each ball that was hit, they took turns running after it only to hit it back over toward the instructor. That got old fast. But they were having fun. Eventually, Alex had to tell them they were being annoying and they stopped. I respect someone who just tells it like it is. Then there was the shy kid. He’s the kid that sits in the corner of a room avoiding eye contact with anyone and seems to just hope he can disappear completely. He was doing really well with all the shots but stood in the back of the line with his head down and his shaggy hair hanging in his eyes. I always find myself wondering what kind of adults these people are going to become. Will he snap out of it and be the next Bill Gates or will he be on the 11 0’clock news? I can only hope for the former. I also hope his parents don’t keep guns in the house. Oh, that wasn’t nice. See, I try but every once in a while they slip out. Damn!
Lesson number two was interesting. I got there on time and was the only one for the first ten minutes so I got a little private instruction until the siblings showed up. My husband and I smacked a few balls around the day before so I felt practiced and ready to go. It was me and the siblings for another 20 minutes or so, then the wife from the middle-aged couple arrived. She was alone. No husband. The shy kid was nowhere to be seen either. That’s probably not surprising though. Now that I think of it, he might have been there and I just didn’t see him. Oh well. For lesson #2, we learned overhead shots and serves. I’ve never had any trouble with serves. I have always done the traditional overhead serve and am pretty good at it actually. Well, as good as you can be without really knowing what you’re doing. So I wasn’t worried about these two new items on the agenda. Afterall, how hard can an overhead shot be when you’re use to doing the traditional serve anyway? Um…ya! I hit a couple overhead shots over the bathrooms and into the baseball field. I missed a few completely. I did manage to get one or two under control though. You know how everyone has their own weird things they do when they’re learning new things. In learning to play the guitar, I made all kinds of faces, still do actually. Now that I think about it, I do the full body flex on my guitar too. In learning to golf, I swore like a trucker on crack. Every other word out of my mouth was four letters. If I were to be bleeped my first few times on a golf course, you would have only heard “mother, piece of, god, wholly, for….sake, rammer, face, etc.” And that would be without taking a breath in between. Well, in learning to play tennis, I’ve apparently decided to start twirling. I take a swing (whether I hit it or not is another story) and promptly proceed to finish my follow through with a little spin move. Perhaps I should put a tutu on for my next lesson.
So now that I have two lessons under my belt, I’m feeling much better about everything. Well, that is except for the soreness in my left forearm (I'm left handed). I think I’m going to have to take a day off of tennis practice so I know that I will be able to hold my dinosaur racket next week for lesson #3. So far, the kids aren’t that bad and the instructor is someone I can respect. I’m having fun. I can’t wait to see what is in store for me next week. Scoring? Playing an actual game? Who knows.