Tennis for dummies

What I know about tennis can be written on a Metro card. Yes, I know those are not only small, but also plastic and that one can’t really write anything on them at all. Which proves my point.

Nonetheless, for the time being I reside only blocks away from the New York stadium where US Open is held annually. Because of this, I felt compelled to show my interest this year. Not only by watching it on tv – as anyone can do – but by buying tickets, walking through my hood to the stadium, mingling with the crowd and sitting through a couple of matches.

To my praise, I must say I did a lot of those things right: Dressed in a very white Nike tennis skirt and equally white Adidas running shoes, I blended right in like Barbie Tennis Star® in the crowd of professional players, amateur players and everyday enthusiasts. Of course, I don’t belong in any of the groups in mention. I suspect even an enthusiast is required to know a thing or two about what exactly the enthusiasm is about. I have never held a racket.

The tickets weren’t for the finals or even the semi-finals, but still chosen with care: Venus Williams vs. a girl whose name I don’t recall, and Rafael Nadal vs. a guy I can’t name. The point is, I positively knew I was watching world class tennis play. This was how God intended the sport to be performed. So sad then, that I was utterly unable to recognize it for its excellence. Not sad for me, though; I had a marvelous time! I mostly feel bad for the people in my party and my immediate surroundings that evening, who had to endure my all-too-obvious shortcomings:

–         Why does he get to serve now? What’s a Deuce? Advantage? Match point? Game? Set? Why does the Nadal-dude always need to be handed three balls before discarding one of them? Will they simply throw away that ball or use it later? And isn’t it distracting the way he keeps pulling his underwear? Maybe they’re his lucky undies. A lot of athletes have superstitious habits like that, you know. And maybe his lucky undies unfortunately is the kind that keeps riding up … (And so forth)

I could have restrained from voicing all of my thoughts and questions out loud, of course. But Life has taught me that if you don’t ask, you don’t learn. I think this is from Socrates. He drove people to tears on a daily basis with his questions. Which I, again to my praise, did not. I like to think I contributed to US Open in my own way.

Why, with frozen daiquiris, my general mood was in the pink. I cheered every time the game got a bit rough, as grunting and body language is universal. I loved the stunt where they handed out free ice-cream during breaks. I applauded all games and sets won by any which player, as it felt like the polite and sporty thing to do. And I looked damn good in that skirt. We were even caught by the tv-camera, smiling and waving on the big screen for a full two seconds. What more can one wish for at a sports event? You tell me.

Yes, I do like tennis. – Mostly for all the wrong reasons, but there’s no law against that. If the inspiration lingers on a couple of weeks after they’ve turned off the lights on the stadium, I’m seriously considering picking up a racket and an instructor and give the sport a try. Or not.

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