Thursday, November 21, 2013

Bring A Blanket And Look out for Old Ladies

Halloween '12 is still a fave.
Today was a good day at the tennis office. My winter USTA team had an away match at 9:30 this morning. Unfortunately it was in just a regular neighborhood, not a Super Fancy Lugzhurious place like the other day. These ladies must not have pros drilling them 24/7, because we took all five lines from them. (That means we played five individual matches against their girls and won. If you win three, you've won the day.)

Just drilling them!

So we arrived at the non-fancy neighborhood and the regular, non-fancy outdoor courts had big puddles on them, and the host team was walking around squeegeeing and drying them with towels. It was gray and cold. I don't think the temp was below the mid or low 40's, but the wind was absolutely biting. I thought, "Winter tennis can go suck an egg. What are we doing out here? I'm not doing this next year."

But I probably will.

One thing I noticed about this team right away was that it was mostly older ladies. Like, it's hard to tell, but maybe 60ish? Which means one thing: Look out. When I was a newbie, I would sometimes make assumptions about someone's playing ability based on how they looked. Young and fit? I would expect a tough match. Older? Out of shape? I would think, "Oh this will be a snap!"

O ho! That was folly. I can tell you, these days the opponent who strikes the most fear into my heart, just by stepping onto the court, is a heavyset, white-haired lady with two knee-braces. God, I quake just thinking of it. When you see her coming, you're about to get your ass kicked. You better dig deep and have your best game, but it probably won't be enough. An old lady who is still out there playing? It does not even matter that she has bad joints and is wearing a medical alarm button. She will stand her ground right on the service line and stick her racquet up in the air and absolutely punish you. You better love to run, because she's going to jerk you from side to side like you're on a string. And she can hit the ball like a laser. She can hit it where you can't get it.

She will probably do all this while wearing earmuffs. And possibly a knitted shrug.

I wouldn't kid you about the accessories.

After one such match, my partner summed up our opponent, "She had all the old lady tricks." Incredibly patient and consistent lobbing, crazy backspin that she can apply to seemingly any ball, sharp angles, and down-the-line winners. We played this lady one time--she was probably over 70--she hit her serves as slice drop shots. Her serves! They sneaked over the net, hit the ground, and died without bouncing. We were like, what just happened? How do you even hit that shot from behind the baseline? Is she some kind of wizard?

Today after Peg and I finished our match (winning!), I sat and watched Pretty Neighbor and her partner battle some old ladies. Our coach was sitting with me. She goes, "This is going to be tough. You watch." But our girls found the Little Old Lady Achilles Heel. The little old lady does not like to run forward. If you can manage to hit the balls short enough, you'll usually win the point. Unless you make her mad and she runs up and fires the ball straight at your throat.

Be careful out there.

So I was watching the rest of our team play, and my body cooled down, and my sweat wicked away, and I was sitting on a stone wall, and it was so cold that before long, I was wrapped in a blanket that came from PN's car. Truth be told, it was an entire bedspread. I had it over my head and I was peering out with just my visor bill.

Seeking an "atta girl" for the match I'd played, I turned to our coach and said, "Did you see that moment up at the net when I LEAPED LIKE A CAT?"

She goes, "I saw a leap."


Then--you didn't think we were done?--tonight, I went out in the chill again and played a flex league match with Kelly Ham. We drove over the literal river and through the actual woods to get to where this neighborhood is supposed to be, and then I'm driving and it's pitch black and I pass a rusted out RV and then I'm driving through an honest-to-god graveyard. Like, there are gravestones. And then we arrived at a tennis court. Very odd.

Then we double-bageled those girls! That means that we beat them 6-0 6-0, so their score looks like two bagels. I don't know who dreamed up that terminology. But that doesn't happen very often. It sure feels like hell to get beat like that. But they didn't even seem to mind that much. And of course, the farther up in the score we got, the more lovely and gracious we became, until we were ready to be crowned joint Homecoming Queens. Then we shook hands with them and exchanged gossip and drove ourselves back home in the mist.

Now you know basically everything about my day. It's a panoply! Mostly I wanted to warn you about the old ladies. God I hope to be one of them some day. xo


Elizabeth said...

Sometimes you write a post, and I just love you. This is one of those times.

Amy said...

Yeah, but did you play any TENNIS today?

Lol jk jk.

Seriously, I hear you about the tough old ladies. I see women here at the beach often, mid 70s and up; striding into the crashing surf and (to me) chilly water, and swimming far beyond what I could do. Good on 'em!

jo said...

we call that the double doughnut and today for one team it was the whole doughnut shop, 6-0,6-0.6-0,6-0!
We had an away team play against us and when we were glad we had won a game we said we wouldn't have to drop our pants. I thought that was a universal thing but maybe its just our club that if you don't score a game you have to drop your pants and run around the court bare arsed (its not enforced, more like an urban legend)

delaine said...

That image of you wrapped in a bed spread is funny. Made me smile. Now, as for old ladies: they are indeed a force to be reckoned with. Good job defeating them and yet not losing your respect for them. Cause one day you will be one.

Camp Papa said...

You might want to use Laura's swim team robe.

Justine said...

I am listening to Anna Quindlen read her latest book, and she reports that she can do a headstand! Now granted, she doesn't rank in "old lady" status yet, but I cannot do a headstand. So yeah, fierce. It's nice to know we might keep getting tougher.

Nate and I have this thing where when one of us is trying to pull information out of the other who doesn't feel like playing along, we'll reply "There's a hue." It's a nod to that Seinfeld where George is pestering Jerry to see if his blind date has a pinkish hue. I don't know why, but your coach's reply about the leap made me think of it. I guess sometimes when you tell us everything it makes me want to do the same.

Becky said...

Doughnut Shop! Dropping your pants!!! Jo I don't think that's a universal thing, but I like it! LOL!

Justine, I totally get it, "There's a hue." That's exactly how she said it. And I think I'm going to adopt your and Nate's thing.

Keely said...

You will totally be that old lady.

Beth said...

I have the same regard for old ladies in yoga class. They're bustin' out some serious vinyasa and holding those ardha chandrasanas like it's falling off a log. Sheesh!

Katie said...

Oh you make me laugh! I remember thinking my partner and I would beat these old ladies and after they kicked our arses, they told us about their daughters our age. Beware the braces!

Becky said...

Katie, the other week I played against a mother-daughter pair. The daughter was older than me and the mom was prob 70. I thought, that will be Laura and me one day!