childhood

My Illustrious Tennis Career (Or, That One Time I Played Tennis)

B Street Tennis Courts (Ardmore OK)Since I moved my blog to WordPress, I’ve been browsing some of the other blogs on the site. I quickly found The Daily Post which offers blogging tips as well as a daily prompt. The World Cup Games inspired today’s prompt, “Offside Memories,” about funny, harrowing, or notable memories from sports we’ve watched, attended, or played.

Once, I even received an award for sports! When I was in eighth grade, I was on the tennis team. I can’t remember why I decided to sign up. Given my priorities at the time, I likely had friends who played or a crush on a tennis player. Back in fourth grade at Oak Hall, our class did play tennis regularly, but I hadn’t picked up a racket since then. The summer before 8th grade, I signed up for tennis classes.

On one of Oklahoma’s hot, humid summer mornings, I was standing on the court with a group of other students learning how to do a backhand stroke. We must have repeated it 300 times! I’ve never liked being hot or sweaty. I was probably daydreaming about whatever boy was striking my fancy at the time or thinking of how thirsty I was. Suddenly, I was looking up into a circle of faces, some concerned, some devilishly¬†delighted. I had fainted – someone said because I had locked my knees – and fallen like a plank onto the tennis court.

Sure, it could have been worse, but it was bad. My chin had busted open when it hit the ground. One of the coaches took me to the emergency room, but they hadn’t gotten parental consent forms, so the doctors couldn’t treat me. (I think that I single-handedly changed the registration process for tennis classes to include parental consent forms in the case of emergencies.) My mother picked me up and took me to the doctor for stitches, and my aunt Lizzie joined us there. I asked her how bad the carnage was. She replied, “Remember that scene in Poltergeist where the man is tearing the flesh off his face?” The next day, I had to see my dentist for a tooth reconstruction because one of my molars split in two.

Despite that inauspicious beginning, I remained enthusiastic about joining the tennis team. The first step was taking a written exam covering the rules of the game. I earned the highest marks, thank you very much. I’ve always been good with things in theory. In practice, however, I was not a tennis whiz. I remained, to my horror, at the bottom of the ladder all season. I really hated tournaments, though I did enjoy away matches when we’d pile onto the old yellow bus. I also enjoyed my new, chic tennis racket and cute tennis skirt and bloomers. Early in the season, I pulled a groin muscle and was sidelined (to my relief) for a few weeks.

When the season was over, I resolved not to join a school sports team again – and I did not. I also never picked up a tennis racket or played tennis again. It was not my finest moment. My family like to reminisce that, although my tennis career was an undisputable failure, I did receive the “Scholar Athlete” award at the end of the year ceremony. I still feel slightly guilty. I was never really an athlete at all.

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