And today my partner and I won our match! Like, a real match that counted and everything! This was a first for both her and me.
I will now tell you all about it.
My partner today, God love her, is a sweet girl who nobody really wants to be paired with. I think this is because, despite playing a bunch, her play is very erratic, and she doesn't really want to run after the ball. Problemo. I've only played with her once before, but my expectations for our performance were not high, so I went there this morning planning to have fun and not stress about it.
Sociological footnote: Our match was an away game in one of the neighborhoods discussed in that book Searching for Whitopia from a few years ago, by Rich Benjamin. He defines a "whitopia" thus:
A Whitopia is whiter than the nation, its respective region, and its state. It has posted at least 6 percent population growth since 2000. The majority of that growth (often upward of 90 percent) is from white migrants. And a Whitopia has je ne sais quoi — an ineffable social charisma, a pleasant look and feel.The book is about the political and social meanings of the whitopia phenom, and it's well worth a read. I'm surprised I've never referenced it. Have I? Because there is a whole chapter on our county (winning!). Our opponents' neighborhood is one of the little havens mentioned. Indeed, it is a nice place with nice ladies in it.
End of footnote.
So we are chatting with our opponents and warming up, and it becomes clear that they are a stronger player and a weaker player. This is common at our level of tennis as the captains are trying to ease newbies into the game. We start our first set and we are pretty evenly matched, going toe to toe on each point. My partner and I held it together and won the first set 7-5. We were pumped.
Their strong player was a bit better than me, and the weaker girl was a bit better than my partner. So how we took that set, I didn't know.
Sometime early in the second set, it dawns on me: Every time I had the chance, I could hit it to the weaker player. Duh! And this wasn't evil! It was strategery! She was more prone to mistakes than her partner, so I hit to her as much as I could. Lobs, volleys, groundstrokes. The stronger player was wise to this strat, of course, but she didn't muster any way of stopping it. And it worked, we crept ahead a couple games.
By this point all of our teammates had finished their matches and had fixed plates full of food, and were sitting watching us, cheering us on and witnessing all our flubs and moments of glory.
Then the other girls kind of upped their game, and we made some mistakes, and suddenly we were tied 4-4 in that second set. My partner was getting tired. I knew this because she kept telling me, "I am tired," and "I can't breathe," and "ALTA rules say we get a minute-and-a-half break between games." I thought, "Crap, if they win this set, we will have to play a third set, and I will have to get someone else to pick up Hank at school. It is time for this to be over."
Then we won another game and then it was 5-4, and I got to serve. Never before have I really understood the power of being the one to serve. I just felt like I had control. And I swear, I could feel that they were going down. I've never played sports, so this was unfamiliar to me, the feeling of momentum. It's like we beat them with our minds, man.
And I super enjoyed it. Like, I enjoyed having won, yes. Winning and feasting on the turkey wraps of jubilation, rather than losing and tasting the pasta salad of bitterness.
But what I really loved was the actual act of winning, the doing of it. Playing is more fun when you're winning. How did I not know this?
Then we hugged, my partner and me, and she was like, "God, you're sweaty!" And I was all, "I just drank two liters of water and I don't even have to pee."
It was a pretty sight.
Then I texted like twelve people, including Matt, his partner Lincoln, my siblings, our tennis coach, and my Kindergarten teacher. And as I drove away I thought, "I am going to blog the shit out of this."
Wishing you success in your endeavors today. xo