As mentioned, shame has motivated me to start playing tennis again. A friend recently asked me to join her comp when I showed an interest. It had been 20 years since I had played regular tennis and I was feeling very nervous that I would be too rusty
I had given up tennis due to a combination of laziness, the demands of mothering young children and a fear of commitment. That is a story for another post but basically I hate having regular events in my diary. I prefer to live each day as it comes, with no commitments or obligations. We’ll talk about that psychological defect another time.
With great trepidation I turned up at my first match. I was worried I would be so terrible that I would embarrass myself. As the game began, I did start to feel embarrassed and it only worsened as the evening progressed. But it was not because of my tennis ability. To my surprise, I wasn’t that bad. Of course I was the worst one there but I was still at the bottom of the general realm of what was considered acceptable for that division.
What was embarrassing was my level of fitness. Up until now I had been doing non-scheduled activities such as dog walking and yoga classes. I quickly realised that the past 10+ years of posing in down dog, sun warrior and kicking back in happy baby pose had not prepared me for the onslaught my body would be taking that night. Just in case yoga enthusiasts attempt to track me down and beat me with their yoga mats, let me clarify – yoga can be very difficult. But it’s strength based, not cardio. Not long into the first set I was breathing heavily and guzzling water. As the evening went on, my panting increased to a level I previously imagined could only be produced by that big white creature from the Never Ending Story. Sweat dripped off my entire body, a phenomenon quite unfamiliar to me, and I was wetter than Jessica Simpson at a car wash, though considerably less attractive. While everyone else looked powder fresh, I was exposed, saturated and heaving. Somehow I made it through the night. I can’t say whether we won or lost, I was simply grateful to have made it through 3 sets without collapsing.
My other initial issue was tennis clothing. Not being that active in any sports, I had little sporting apparel except yoga pants. And everyone knows you need a pocket for that extra tennis ball. I made a trip to a 24 hour K-mart on my way to my first match and all I could find was one pair of royal blue shorts, with pockets, marked down to $3 as there was a little hole in the leg. Sold. But as I turned up week after week I noticed the in thing for women was to wear tiny tennis skirts regardless of their age or body type. There was some compartment underneath that held the spare ball but I had no idea what. Once she served a fault, the lady would reach under her skirt and pull a ball out. But where was it coming from!? It was almost like she was laying an egg. I couldn’t ask…but my curiosity was soon rewarded. On my birthday, my husband bought me a tennis skirt, complete with attached bike pants – that’s where they shove the ball! I quickly tried it on to check it fit around the waist then took it off. On my next tennis night I excitedly put the skirt on with a singlet top and stood in front of a full length mirror. Uh oh. There was a muffin top showing. Not to mention that it was really short. Shorter than something I would have worn out clubbing in my younger years when I may have been able to get away with it. I felt so… exposed. In front of Georgie boy I walked up the hall and asked if he could see any cellulite.
“No!” he said, sounding shocked.
“Really?” I asked skeptically.
“You don’t really have any anyway” he replied innocently.
“What?” I said sharply.
“You don’t really have any” he replied, less confidently, as if afraid of a trap.
Ah…overuse of hyperbole, the classic mistake of the sycophantic husband. Men, flattering your wife is like playing poker: don’t overplay your hand, or you’ll be forced to fold. Either way, the tennis skirt was not making an appearance that night. I knew that when I bounced around the court that thing would billow up like a parachute on a windy day. The $3 shorts have remained my loyal friends.
Since starting, I have continued to improve. I still pant and sweat but I only look like I’ve run through a sprinkler rather than been blasted by a fire hose. And I have really enjoyed myself, win or lose. You get to the point where you don’t mind losing points here or there as long as it means avoiding a ball in the boob. And I am hoping that the muffin top will soon be gone so that the skirt can make its debut.
Tennis, you have made me sweat, pant and turn up to the same place every week… but I have so much love for you and only some of it is on my scorecard.