I played tennis yesterday for the first time in too long. At first, my friend Trevor and I just hit. Then we served. Then we decided to play a set. Then we decided to play another set. Overall, we played for almost two hours. I had a great time, even though he beat me badly. But this morning? Holy moly, everything hurts. My thighs, my butt, my back, my arms. Everything just hurts.
I grew playing competitive tennis. I was ranked high in the state and not-so-high nationally. Mom and I spent most weekends on the road for tournaments, so much so that I was often accused of stealing Mom from the family. She also often took me to the tennis courts for lessons before and after school. During the summer, we’d practice in the Texas heat for six hours a day. Hours of tennis and weekends of match after match were just the routine. But my almost two hours of tennis from yesterday have left me walking more tenderly than I normally do the morning after an Ironman.
I’m a big believer that being fit in one sport doesn’t necessarily translate to another. I might be able to run, bike or swim for hours, but running fit isn’t the same as biking fit, which isn’t the same as swimming fit. And none of those are the same as tennis fit. I’m not tennis fit. Not right now, anyway. It’s going to take some consistency to get my body adjusted to the squatting and movement and strength work of the game.
But I think I want to do that work. Trevor annihilated me 6-0, 6-2 yesterday. As long as we just hit, I could keep up with his strokes, but once we started to play sets, I was no competition for him whatsoever. He’s got a strong serve and plays strategically. I have no serve, often couldn’t return his serve, and was mostly just trying to make him hit another shot. Ordinarily, I would hate getting beat like that. But the fact that I walked away from that pounding wanting to play again made me realize that maybe it’s time to get back in that game.
I’ve been thinking about playing again for over a year. I started thinking even more seriously about it after I had dinner with one of my high school coaches. That dinner quieted a lot of the demons in my head where tennis was concerned. And my coach challenged me and others to play in a Memorial Day tournament this year. I don’t know if I will play a tournament that quickly, but I do think I want to get back on the court somewhat regularly. Maybe twice a week?
The trick for me will be playing frequently enough that I feel confident, but not so often that I lose the ability to do my races. I’m not willing to give up my triathlons or my marathons, but I do want to add something else into the mix. It’ll be a chance for me to reclaim a bit of my youth, face a new challenge, and reconnect with tennis friends from long ago, many of whom have been playing all these years. I won’t be much of a challenge for them at first, but I’m hopeful they’ll stick with me until I find my game again.