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Rule the court

Last night I discovered tennis is a lot more fun when you actually bat the ball back and forth with your partner. It’s far more entertaining than sending balls ricocheting onto the next court or running after wayward balls mumbling, “Sorry!” after missing an easy shot. Maybe I won’t give it up after my lessons end after all.

I no longer completely suck at tennis. I now only mostly suck. When practicing my serve, I can toss the ball in the air in front of me and whack it, instead of accidentally tossing it behind my head like a bad juggler. We played some easy doubles games and I was able to hit the ball more often than I didn’t. During one game called “Kings and Queens of the Court” my partner and I were able to get three points in a row and defeat the reigning kings to take over their spot. I will try to ignore the patriarchal implications that it is better to be the king than the queen and just be happy that I was able to hit the ball in the general direction that I wanted to without bruising anyone’s face.

Every time my team stepped up to the baseline I felt worried that I would let my partner down by missing an easy shot. It’s one thing to screw up your own game, but I didn’t want to bring down my teammates, even if I didn’t know their names and will likely never see them again after this month. There was a temptation to think, “Crap, I’m not going to be able to hit the ball.” But negative thinking like that has never helped anyone do anything but fail. So I had to remind myself, “You will hit the ball. You will smack the curvy white lines that form a smirk on its fuzzy green face and you will show it who whacks the racquet on this court. Boo-yah!” Which pretty much sums up my attitude about life these days. Rule the court. Get your game on. There’s no use in focusing on what you can’t do, just think about all the stuff you can do. Just believing you can do something makes it all the more likely that you can. And I did hit that ball more often than not. Some shots still got by, but the apposing team can always use some positive reinforcement too, right?

I’m also trying to resist the urge to apologize after I goof up and send a ball out of bounds or miss a volley. I’m not Grand Slam material and that’s okay. I do not have to apologize for still being somewhat inept. I don’t have to say I’m sorry as long as I try my best. Still, I find the “s” word slipping off of my lips more often than I’d like. It’s a reflex I guess, just like that instinct to dodge when a ball comes flying at my face.

It was very hot on the courts which are inside and not air conditioned. There have been heat index warnings this week because it’s been in the 90’s with high humidity. Some people complained about the heat, but I honestly didn’t notice it that much. I kind of like getting sweaty. It makes me feel like I’ve really accomplished something, even if I’ve only accomplished to become dehydrated. Or maybe my body now naturally feels cooler, just like I freeze in the winter when everyone else feels fine. I keep my water bottle full and trundle through. I’m not big on whining these days.

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Candy • August 7, 2007 at 11:47 am

First, do what is necessary, then do what is possible. Suddenly, you are doing the impossible.


Marianne • August 7, 2007 at 12:27 pm

Great post!

I struggle with the “sorry!” when playing sports, too. I goof up, apologise, and then wonder why the heck I’m apologising, because everyone makes mistakes sometimes. Then I’m too busy thinking to pay attention, so I goof again. *rolls eyes* I seriously need to work on that, and I like your “I don’t have to say I’m sorry as long as I try my best” attitude.


Jenny • August 7, 2007 at 12:45 pm

Something I learned late in life is that sports do not necessarily suck. AND, if you stick with it, you actually get better at it AND enjoy it.

Who knew? Not me. Well, not the old me.

Congrats on learning about tennis and yourself.


Laura • August 7, 2007 at 3:14 pm

Great post! Love how you are doing new things and finding the best in them. What an inspiration you are.


Sarah • August 7, 2007 at 4:50 pm

I think with a few more practices you’ll really be surprised how well you do. I found that if you play with somebody who is better than you (not on the same beginners level) that you will learn quicker and play better.


Cindy • August 7, 2007 at 10:29 pm

Hi PQ,

great post. I am cautious about trying new “sports,” or organized anything with other people. I really want to give some things a try, it is just hard to get over the threshold, so to speak. You seem to have found the mental equivalent of “normal.” How did you do it? With this whole weight loss journey, I am starting to feel like I am losing confidence, instead of gaining it. At first, I had the “rush” of some successes, but lately, as my weight has plateaued, my confidence is shot. I don’t think I can even call it a plateau any more…I just think this is what it is going to be…so I guess it is maintenance? But I feel like I am not done yet, even if my body thinks it is…which I guess is the source of my failing confidence (the fact that I am failing to lose the last 20-30 pounds). Okay, so you aren’t into whining, but I guess I might be in danger of overdosing on it, so i’ll stop now. I will try to think of you whacking that tennis ball and make a few attempts of my own! Thanks for the great post.


Mia • August 7, 2007 at 11:14 pm

“I’m also trying to resist the urge to apologize after I goof up and send a ball out of bounds or miss a volley. I’m not Grand Slam material and that’s okay. I do not have to apologize for still being somewhat inept. I don’t have to say I’m sorry as long as I try my best.”

You are so right! I really think this is the secret to a healthy life. Get rid of the unrealistic expectations for perfection, and don’t forget to give yourself credit for all the really cool stuff you do.


jen • August 8, 2007 at 11:03 am

Love that ending: “I’m not big on whining these days.”

I think I need to adopt that attitude. As much as I hate listening to whining, I’m guilty of doing plenty of my own.


melsky • August 8, 2007 at 11:14 am

My husband and I play a form of tennis where we just try to keep the ball in play and see how many times we can hit it back and forth across the net. We don’t keep score or anything. It’s more cooperation than competition. It’s kind of fun.


Nina Frusztajer Marquis, MD • August 8, 2007 at 2:23 pm

For the past few days, my kids and I have been reading “The OK Book”, a wonderful stick figure drawn book all about how it’s fun to try new things and it’s OK to be “OK” at things like flipping pancakes (it winds up on the figure’s head). Good for you for getting out there on the courts! What I love about sports is that it’s hard to get worse at them when you practice at all. By the way, I love your name “pasta queen” – you must know all about how eating carbs allows your brain to make serotonin which makes you feel good and takes away appetite (comfort and satisfaction and getting and staying slim is what (low-fat) carb comfort foods are all about).


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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JenFul now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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