Tennis Lesson

John Barker and I won the first set against John Willardson and Bobby Isenhour. Then John Willardson and I were down 0 - 5 in the second set when it came my turn to serve. I decided not to go down without a fight. I started whaling the ball.


On the first point John B and I hit back and forth a flaming serve, return of serve and low, tough volley winner down the middle by me. On the next point Bobby I and I did the same thing, except that it went past 3 shots. It was an abnormally long rally for so many hard hits. At one point my partner John W jumped into the middle of the court at the net and caused the dreaded 'I formation,' so I had to cover both sides of the court at the baseline. After about the seventh shot I hit an overhead put-away winner.

The guys on Court B were between games and watching us. They started whooping and hollering. John B commented it was a great exchange and the best 2 points tonight.

Then John W and I went on to lose the game and set 0 - 6 on multiple simple, unforced errors.

In the third set Bobby and I were up 5 - 3. Then the score started slipping away from us. To their credit, John B and John W started playing better. Way better. Especially John W, he played about twice as good as when he was my partner, hitting many hard, low percentage winners that caught everyone off guard.

Bobby and I lost in a tie breaker. I cussed loud, repeatedly, and tore up one of my hats from flinging it on the ground so many times. At one point, Bruce Rosen on Court B commented that he 'felt my pain.' I said, I am glad, because I needed to share my feelings. He told me not to hold in my emotions so much. I told him that he has been reading my therapist's e-mails.

The good news is that I proved to myself that I can raise the level of my game and get in the groove by trying hard, not simply relying on luck to be playing good or bad. The bad news is that I have to get mean, aggressive and want to stomp the opponent to do so, which sometimes is an uncomfortable feeling among such good friends. It also takes maximum mental, physical and emotional concentration and effort. It is just plain hard work.

The next bad news is that I may stay in the groove only a few minutes, and then lose it again. I guess the bottom line is like Jim Valvano said, 'Never, ever quit.'

Later having several beers at Sagebrush, we had a great opportunity to ask questions of a professional musician - Billy Gee, who had just performed at MerleFest - about the inner workings of the music business.

Bob Laney

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Bob is the site curator and writer of Blue Ridge Outing. Since starting the Blue Ridge Outing travel blog in 2002, Bob has written, recorded and documented countless expeditions in the US and around the world.

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