or ECP) at Dana-Farber. I had actually planned on going to pilates, knowing that it's good to work into your routine in general and hoping that specifically it might help my abdomen to protrude less (a result of the Graft. vs. Host of Skin.)
But when I got a call from Rebecca at the club saying they needed an eighth, I jumped at the chance.
Tennis is always more fun, but it didn't start out great. The player across from me hit me hard on my thigh. It was a stinger, probably because my skin is so sensitive. A few minutes later, she hit me on the calf. I bent over to rub it as tears welled up in my eyes.
At our level, we don't do these things on purpose, despite our old coach Rich Bray standing on the other side and saying, "Hit me, hit me," to improve our net game. But it is a shocker, especially twice in a row at the same speed. I said the understatement of the year – I have a problem with my skin – or something like that, maybe to explain my apparent lack of toughness.
The other three said maybe I should go sit out and call Marie from the front desk. But no way was I doing that, although my better instincts said I should ice.
Instead I said to myself, "There's no crying in tennis," and went back to my spot.
My serve, which had been pretty bad earlier, suddenly got better. I thanked the other player for knocking the bad serve out of me.
During the change in teams (we do three combinations), another player and I stood at the net talking about the times we have been hit. I mentioned an incident from the week before, saying a different player whaled the ball at me on purpose.
Last week I wasn't technically supposed to play because I still had a day to go before my friend nurse Jo took the stitch out of the biopsy on my right thumb. But it was so small that I put a bandaid on it and figured it would be OK.
Three of us were warming up before the fourth arrived. The woman on the other side kept hitting it only to the person next to me. I jumped up and down and said, hit it to me, hit it to me. I was just fooling around, but she backed up, took a big swing, and hit it straight at me.
After a few minutes she apologized and said she doesn't like it when she acts like that. I accepted the apology, but the after effects ruined that set. Most of all it affected my serve. I double faulted more times than I ever have done, and although I was just trying to forget it and get over it, I saw how your emotions can affect your game.
In the other rounds, my mood and playing picked up. People complicated me on my net game, an inheritance from my father, the result of George's lessons, and my height and long arms.
Afterwards she apologized again and we chatted a little about, of all things, our respective dental problems. I wanted to hang around a little so the air could naturally clear because I wasn't upset anymore and didn't want her to be either. She joked that if her ball had made contact and I had lost another tooth (making it 13 gone) it would be something to write about on my blog.
So that's what I did.
I can think of quite a few when tempers flared. I don't know how men on teams react to stress. Maybe better, maybe worse.
Many of us are our own worst enemy, which in turn makes us worse. It's then that we need to focus on the ball and maybe even reread (or read for the first time) The Inner Game of Tennis.
Sometimes, especially in league play, we forget that we're only playing for the brownies at the end. But the competitiveness is also what keeps us coming back.