It's been forever since I told you a story about people showing their asses in tennis, so gather 'round. Lest you think that bad behavior is a common problem in recreational tennis, it's really not. I don't report on the majority of cases, in which everyone is lovely, our kids all go the same preschool, and we pour the balm of sisterhood all over the court before enjoying a delicious lunch. I mean who wants to read that.
This was a few weeks back, at the last Fall match for my Sunday team. To review: in Spring and Fall I played on two teams, one with matches on Thursday and one with a Sunday schedule. The two teams include a lot of the same ladies. There are many opinions circulating about the difference between Thursday and Sunday tennis, but in my limited experience, Sunday is when all the bad behavior goes down. Also a lot of husbands come, and most of these women's husbands, I'm like, I don't know, whatever.
So I was playing in line 3 or 4 with S, my Venezuelan sometimes-partner. She was my partner for the last tennis story I told you, where those terrible girls wouldn't hand over the balls. JUST HAND OVER THE BALLS.
S and I played our first set with these two girls and it was fine. They were more interested in chatting with each other than in making small talk with us, but that's okay, doubles is about being united with your partner. They beat us 6-3. In the second set, we sort of figured ourselves out and played better. We were up 5 games to 2, and they hit a shot that S called out on the left sideline. It was right there at her feet, and I was over on the right side of the court. She was in a much better position to see it, and she called it out.
Instantly, both of our opponents were like, "No way! That was on the line! That was in!" etc. Now, Reader, I thought they could have been right. From where I was standing, it looked tight. AND, if I had been the one to make the call, and they both instantly questioned it, I might have backed off on it. If you aren't sure, the call goes in your opponent's favor. So from where I was standing, it looked like a close ball, but I just said, "I couldn't see it." I wasn't about to disagree with my partner unless I was sure and maybe not even then. S stood her ground and said, "It was out. I'm sorry but it was. If you want, we can replay the point." Then I stepped in and said, "No, there's no replaying the point, the call is the call. If you saw it out, the ball is out." S is not an assertive person, and the fact that she was being insistent on this point made me want to back her up.
So there is no court of appeals or higher judge in rec tennis. We called the ball out and it was out, that gave us the second set 6-2, meaning we would play a third deciding set.
OMG they were so mad. They were fuming and fussing, but we took a break before the third set, and I ate a banana with ostentatious cheer and figured it would blow over.
Reader, it did not blow over.
They acted like such total bitches in that third set. With one part of my brain, I noticed this, but it didn't seem like a really serious problem because most of my brain was focused on the game. There was a lot of negative chatter coming from them, but you know what? They were standing kind of far away from me, and when someone on the other end of a tennis court mutters something nasty, you can't hear it. They were like two angry, muttering little raisins way over there. The people watching on the sidelines could hear it though, and there were little snark skirmishes breaking out in the bleachers, but I mostly stayed focused.
Only in retrospect did it even dawn on me how assy they were being. At one point, we hit a shot and I didn't hear their call. I asked, "Was it in?" One of the girls, the angrier one, just flipped the frack out. She started shouting, "Her call is her call! If she calls it out it is out!" and etcetera, in a way that was intended to mock S. As often happens when someone is completely losing her shit, I feel that my body is filling with a cool fluid, time dilates, and I have all the time in the world to respond. I just said, "Thanks for clearing that up." And then when they hit the next ball and it sailed long, I said, "Now THAT was out."
That is my only utterance that I am not 100% proud of, as it could be seen as flame-fanning.
Then I started to get worried, because their anger was making them play better and we got to 6-6 in the third set. As we took a break before the tiebreak game, I was all happy and TAKE NO PRISONERS LET'S DO THIS. My partner was going to serve first, and I walked back to her to give her a quick "Atta girl!" She said, "I can't talk, I'm going to cry." She told me that she was upset by all their negativity. I could feel her turning to jelly right there in front of me. I was honestly surprised and I tried to tell her not to worry about them. I said, like, "Heeey, honey, this is just tennis! Don't let them get to you, I think they're funny! We have them scared, we can win this," etc.
What I wanted to say was, "There is no crying in tennis! Big girl panties, stat!" I mean, come on!
But she served and we played the tiebreak and we won it 7-3. So, like, decisively.
Then, THEN, the angrier one of them refused to shake our hands. That is unheard of in ladies' tennis. My parents were there, they can testify. As soon as we won the last point--they hit a shot long--I retrieved the ball and walked straight to the net. Our opponents scurried to their bags and busied themselves there. I thought, "She's going to have to work harder to snub me." So I went over to them and said, "Great playing ladies, great match. Thank you." And I gave the angry girl's shoulder a friendly pat. She mumbled something and did not turn around. Her partner managed to thrust a hand in my direction. S got the same treatment. Then I turned to the spectators and exchanged 'O' faces with one of my teammates, who had practically popped popcorn for this exchange. My friend T said, "I'm about to come love tackle you."
When we walked off the court we had to make S feel better, because she had been traumatized by their rudeness, but I was all IT MAKES ME STRONGER OOH RAH. And I just couldn't believe how twisted up they got about that call. You do not lose a match because of a call that goes against you.
I'm still kind of in disbelief over it.
Lord, longest story of tennis ever? Blogging every day and all! xoxo