I am proud to say I don’t totally suck at tennis.
During my first tennis lesson last night I did not wedge a tennis ball into anyone’s eye socket nor did I send sparks and fried green fuzz flying from the overhead lights. I was even able to serve the ball over the net once or twice, which is more than I could say about volleyball in high school PE.
I had never played tennis before. I don’t think I’d even hit a tennis ball with a racket before. Thankfully I am in a large group class with 15 people and 3 instructors, so there were 5 other newbies like me who were grouped together. When I signed in and paid my money at the desk, I also got a packet with flyers and basic tennis rules. I started reading the rules immediately like the good little student I always was. By the time we actually went out to the courts I had already figured out what the baseline was and where the service box was and that the term “love” came from the French word “l’oeuf,” as if there might be a pop quiz before they let me borrow a racket.
The dopiest thing is that I still get off on getting praise from instructors. Even though I had only known these teachers for 10 minutes, when one of them complimented my elbow position at the end of my groundstroke, I felt like I’d gotten a gold star. You’d think I would eventually get over the need to be liked or praised, but I think this is just a human need that will haunt me for the rest of my life. I suppose everyone wants to feel valued, even if its only because they don’t have a floppy elbow.
The instructors were very encouraging and kind, which helped build my confidence. Somehow I ended up being the first person sent through both the groundstroke and volley drills. I did not try to get sent through first, but I didn’t have too much time to get worried since my concentration was better spent on the small green ball being flung at me over the net by the instructor. I just wanted to hit the thing, never mind perfect form or floppy elbows. I did whack it more often than not and I was pretty amazed by how far I could send that thing flying. It was pretty cool. PQ like to hit things. I might have been gripping the racket too tightly though, because when I came home to type some e-mails, my right hand wouldn’t hit the keys properly. It was freaky. I kept missing by about half an inch or wobblingly slightly. If that’s what it’s like to have multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s, I pray I stay healthy, because I need to be able to type. It went away after about 5 minutes though, obviously, since I’m typing this and my cat refused to take dictation from me.
I also noticed that the other athletics I’ve tried, like Pilates and TurboKick, have helped me become a little more aware of my body. When the instructor was talking about turning your shoulders when you swing and stepping into the stroke, it wasn’t too different from taking the proper stance in kickboxing and then following through with a punch. I think I learned a little bit faster than I would have if I’d never taken a sports class before. The hour and a half went very quickly and I’m looking forward to the next five classes.
The other thing I learned: my thighs are kind of saggy. I don’t hang around the pool, so I have not been exposed to masses of cellulite and thighs lately. However, most everyone at the courts was wearing shorts or tennis skirts and they all had much tighter skin on their legs than I do. I think I’m going to stick to my yoga pants because 1) I hate shaving my legs and 2) even though I love my body and all it can do, I don’t necessarily want my thighs flopping all around court even if my elbow’s not. I doubt anyone would really care if I wore shorts, but I don’t even own a pair right now and don’t feel a huge rush to go out and buy a pair.