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Tennis lessons

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.

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Karen • July 24, 2007 at 9:54 am

Congrats to you for trying something new! That is always scary for me. When I first went to the gym, I was a bit nervous. I had no idea how to use all of those machines! Now I am so proud of myself, I have used probably 75% of the machines there. I don’t use free weights, just the weight machines. I leave those to the guys who like to flex in front of the mirror and kiss their guns. I swear I have seen that.


melsky • July 24, 2007 at 10:51 am

My husband and I enjoy playing a form of tennis where you just try to hit the ball back and forth just for fun (and exercise of course) but we don’t know any of the rules or anything. We always make sure no one is watching, lol.


Marianne • July 24, 2007 at 12:33 pm

Congrats on trying tennis! It sounds like a lot of fun, but I’ve never played outside of high school PE either. Maybe tennis will go on my list o’ things to try.

I’m starting beach volleyball in a couple of weeks and I’m a little apprehensive about it. I think I need the praise, too! ;)


Jenny • July 24, 2007 at 12:39 pm

First, wear the yoga pants, it’s your tennis lesson. Second, I think as adults we NEED some good-old “atta girl” at times. My boxing coach is great about giving positive feedback and I LOVE IT. It’s fixes all of my bad gym memories. Truly.


P • July 24, 2007 at 1:07 pm

The hand shaking is probably adrenaline. After I play basketball my hands always do that.


starbird • July 24, 2007 at 1:25 pm

PQ – you’re on the right track with your athletic experiments. I read somewhere that physically-fit people are smarter than couch potatoes. Or to put it another way, physical exercise improves your thinking processes.

That’s the opposite of the dumb-athlete stereotype. If you know any professional athletes, you already know how smart they are. The dumb ones just don’t last in their sport. I think modeling might be the same way – those gals are probably way smarter than we think. Not the druggies, though.

A few years ago, I met the wife of a pitcher for the Detroit Tigers – she said he was getting his masters degree during the off-season! She said they didn’t usually mention his “day job” at the university, since the academics looked down on him.


Christy • July 24, 2007 at 1:57 pm

I’ve slowly been reading this blog from start to finish because of the link I found on Body by Glamour’s website. You’ve done such a great job, and you look absolutely fantastic. My weight loss goal is significantly smaller, just about 25-30 lbs, and reading this really helps me put that into perspective. Congrats on the weight loss so far… and the book deal!


annie b • July 24, 2007 at 3:38 pm

If you want to be inspired by watching live pro tennis, the Indianapolis Tennis Championships is on this week (www.tennisindy.com). It would be a nice opportunity to see top players (Roddick, Blake). I recommend watching Gael Monfils, he moves so fluidly. I have always been a big tennis fan, try to play doubles at my club every weekend, and always enjoy watching pro tournaments live. It’s a great motivation get in better shape — to improve your strokes and endurance to get to the next ball.


Kriss • July 24, 2007 at 3:51 pm

Wait – you seriously don’t own a pair of shorts????? What covers you up below your boobs & above your knees? :)

And WTG on hitting the tennis courts! Your floppy elbow fears remind me of “spaghetti arms” from Dirty Dancing.


jancd • July 24, 2007 at 9:04 pm

I have to agree on the human need to be complimented. I am 59, working at a Bible school this week, and felt a tinge of pride when a 70 year old commented that I had worked my butt off making powdered lemonaid for 2000 kids. Is that sad or what? I am so happy to read your blog. Its a good read. Congratulations on your accomplishments.


Cindy • July 24, 2007 at 11:00 pm

Hi PQ,

Oh, you gotta get some shorts! I have the saggy thigh problem worse than you could imagine (I’m 46, so my skin has virtually no elasticity). How did I solve this dilemma? Long shorts! I have a few pairs of men’s (Really hip, like for teenage boys…) and one pair from Talbot’s (that I just LOVE!!!). Give’em a try ~ You’ll wish summer lasts forever!


Chris H • July 25, 2007 at 1:25 am

I totally do suck at tennis!!! Good for you giving it a go!


Lesley • July 25, 2007 at 4:00 am

Hi PQ. I’m well impressed by your tennis playing efforts. I used to be quite a good player at school but suspect I’d be flopping around like a fish out of water were I to try again. Having said that, I’ve been meaning to give it a go as soon as a spare evening appears in my weekly diary! Your inspiration will keep tennis on the radar and, one day, it might actually happen!!

Thanks for that.

Lesley x

PS – I wouldn’t worry about saggy thighs – mine do something similar after losing 50kg but they’re firming up slowly and shorts are not exactly the be all and end all of life are they??


BrightAngel • July 25, 2007 at 10:08 am

Trying something new to you, like that, is such a great behavior.



Mymsie • July 25, 2007 at 10:39 am

Good for you for trying tennis! I did in high school but I played with some friends who already knew the ropes pretty well so they were impatient with my clumsiness. Hmm…sounds like something I need to work out in therapy.


Lori W. • July 25, 2007 at 8:31 pm

Oh, I’m so jealous. I got to take one lesson before I fell and I was like you — nervous but surprised at what I could accomplish (like really hitting the ball over the net). (I took classes with a bunch of college girls.) Have fun and maybe by next year, I can resume my lessons!

(Oh, and have fun in Chicago! It’s one of my favorite towns.)


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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 JennetteFulda.com now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

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