I am no longer blogging here at Little Nuances, but I would love for you to join me on my author website www.leewarren.info.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Series of Firsts: First High School Memory

About a week before high school started in1982, the tennis team met for the first time. I’d been practicing all summer, hoping to make an impression on the coach, but not really having any idea how well I’d do against older, more developed players. I entered the tennis courts in a location affectionately known as “the hole” (because it sits down in a bowl-shaped area). I’d spoken with the coach on the phone a few days prior to let him know I wanted to play for the team, but I was still extremely nervous before the first practice.

Thankfully, the coach didn’t make any cuts because I probably wouldn’t have made the team that season. We had about a dozen guys on the team—the most of any of the three seasons I played there.

The coach divided us up the first day based on our experience and we began to run through the various tennis drills he taught us.

I recounted the memory in a post from 2006:

I attended my first high school tennis practice at the beginning of my sophomore year (I know I'll sound old when I say this, but back then, high school started in 10th grade—not 9th). I was immediately enamored with two players. Both were seniors. Both had the latest in tennis racket design (one graphite and the other aluminum—most of the rest of us, myself included, were still using wooden rackets). And both were named Jeff. They played tennis on a level I'd never seen before. They took full cuts at the ball and somehow kept the ball from flying over the fence and into traffic—a skill that I certainly hadn't mastered at that point. They were doubles partners and each of the remaining members of the team were paired up to practice with them. I learned more during that year from them than in all my other previous years on the court combined.

They worked together as a team when they played doubles—complete with hand-signals that indicated when one player was going to poach or stay put. And they were quick to teach the rest of us what to look for and how to position ourselves. Their teaching didn't pay immediate dividends, but it did provide for some comedy.

I remember garnering up the courage to poach during one particular practice session against them. I probably should have abandoned ship when I saw that the serve my partner hit resembled a helium balloon, but I didn't know any better at the time. One of the Jeffs—the one who typically crushed balls from the baseline—stepped into a forehand while I was poaching and the ball was on me quicker than anything I'd ever seen. As I attempted to bail out (I must have looked like a guy who was desperately trying to avoid getting shot) the ball found a nice cushy spot just under the ribs on the left side of my body and I went down in a heap. The ball, however, bounced off my body and found its way over the net for a winner. After everybody saw that I was okay, laughter filled the courts—including from my own mouth—even though it hurt to laugh.

Starting classes a week after I started tennis practice was so much easier since I already knew about a dozen guys and one teacher (the coach). To be honest, I can’t even remember my first day of classes, but I’ll always remember that nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach when I strolled onto the court to play high school tennis for the first time.

Other posts in this series:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...