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27 June 2005

Tennis, Anyone?

Pay attention because I'm about to say something nice about Portland:

Deering Park has very nice facilities for tennis (9 outdoor courts; free for anyone to use).

Since the weather warmed up, R and I have been hitting the Deering Park courts 3, 4, even 5 times per week, depending on our schedules. Neither of us is an excellent tennis player, and what we do isn't exactly playing the game "tennis;" we are rather hitting a tennis ball with tennis rackets on a tennis court. The goal is not to hit it out of the other player's range, thus scoring a point; instead, we try to hit it toward one another so as to keep the volley going for as long as possible.

Sometimes we can keep it going for 15 or 20 journeys over the net, and that's a great feeling. We're all smiles when we can do that. Each time we play, we realize we're getting better at it.

I took tennis lessons briefly when I was younger with my sister, Colleen. There was this little community park in our town that offered lessons, and I think we took lessons for 1 or 2 summers. Then Colleen and I would go to the park right by our house to practice, but those practice seesions usually resulted in a slow building of anger. The details are fuzzy, but what generally happened was one of us (I won't say who, Colleen) would repeatedly rocket the ball over the fence, and the other one would have to retrieve the ball, only for it to happen it again momens later. To make matters worse, the one who hit the ball would laugh at the one who had to go get it. After 20 minutes, park-goers would see us chasing each other around the courts, trying to brain the other with the racket. I do remember hurling my racket at her head once, as she raced off towards home on her red Schwinn 10-speed. And this was in the days before helmets.

Apparently I've matured, for I have not chased R or tried to hit her with my racket thus far.

Originally, I thought tennis would be a nice outdoor exercise to enjoy in addition to yoga, but now, I'm primarily liking it for the mental alacrity it brings me. Where do I need to be on the court to hit the ball? How hard do I need to hit the ball to get it where I want it? Which way should I hold the racket to best achieve this effect?

It's like playing chess, only physical, and without the motive of winning.

Ok, it's nothing like chess. Except the feeling that my ENTIRE brain is in use.

Now that I finally have a summer job (see JOB column), our practice will wane as I have to leave the house by 8am (the courts don't open until 6:30, so it isn't worth our while to go for 20 minutes and then rush back and get ready for work), and after work, I have yoga (I pay for this, so I need to go as often as possible to get my money's worth).

I miss Fairbanks' midnight sun and the multi-tasking it allowed! Of course, Fairbanks had very few outdoor tennis courts available free for public use.

We'll do our best to play on the weekends, and I'll continue to send only the ball over the net, not my racket.


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