with time to spare

September 15th, 2006

Tennis is a funny sport. I've started playing recently, after a long, long break. I've never actually 'played it' in the proper sense of the term, never belonged to a club or anything like that. I used to play semi-regularly for a while as a kid, and it was fun. But tennis not being a popular sport in Norway (to put it mildly), I never took it any further. I guess I could have, but I preferred football and basketball. So now I live in Utrecht, there are plenty of courts in the student sports club and it's affordable.

But not having played for half a decade shows very well, I'm very awkward with tennis these days. The weirdest thing is having too much time. When there's a rather weak ball coming across, I have all the time in the world. I can chill for a while before I have to move into position. My technique, of course, is horrible, I need practice. But this period of 'free time' is very unsettling, it throws me off the rhythm. Just a moment ago I was in action hitting the ball, now I'm taking a break before the ball comes back. It's totally the kind of situation where I don't know if I should walk or run, I'm sorta on the fence about that decision. Tennis can be very dynamic, but it can also be very slow. And when you're not playing well, it's mostly slow. So I'm taking my time, I'm not rushing and I'm not getting the practice for using my time well. So when a fast ball comes at me, I can't cope with it, suddenly it's too fast. Not because I *couldn't* have reached it, but because I don't have the proper rhythm to react fast enough.

Interestingly, I don't play well under pressure. And in tennis there is no reward for a good performance overall, only the last ball counts. So even if I have a good exchange, I usually mess up the last ball and lose the point. Today I was taken to the cleaners, 6-0, 6-0. :D I didn't really feel up to playing a match, I'd rather just get more practice. Practice was going much better, much higher play to wait ratio. But sometimes you have to accommodate people.

Still, the biggest problem is finding people to play with. My tennis partner put up an ad to attract players and I responded to it. And apparently the other handful of people who did had no clue what they were doing, much worse than me even.

I would like to get a regular schedule going, but at the end of the day I'm still wondering if tennis is dynamic enough for me.

On the way home I stopped by these people who advertised they wanted to get rid of some tennis balls. Good lord did they hook me up, 4 boxes, 2 never even opened. Not only that, they wanted to give me a plastic bag full of old balls. All for just €3.5, which is a pretty damn good deal. I took the boxes, already a lot more balls than I need. They also had lots more golf balls, but I don't play golf. Super nice people too, Pakistani would be my guess. Apparently the husband used to play, but now they have a baby, so there's no time.

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2 Responses to "with time to spare"

  1. erik says:

    I actually don't get how tennis scores are counted. But 6-0 6-0 sounds pretty bad :D

  2. numerodix says:

    Tennis scoring is a bit wacky.

    There are 6 games per set, and two sets. For each game, the scoring is like this: 15-30-40-50. Don't ask me why. So during a game, the score can be 15-0, 30-30, 40-15 etc. When it gets to 50, the game is won. Games must be won by two points, so when it's 40-40, you have to win two balls in a row to win the game.

    Then there's the set, which has 6 games, but again must be won by two games or more. So valid results are 6-4, 6-3, 7-5, 8-6 etc. And you have to win two sets to win the match. So 6-0, 6-0 is a won match. Otherwise if it's 6-0, 4-6, then there's a third set which settles it.