As I mentioned before on this blog, I was on the junior varsity tennis team in high school for two years, and never won a single match. Not one. I was the epitome of, “The important thing is that you all have fun!”
The thing was, I was in it for the fun. I did very well on drills, even the stupid ones that I suspect were created just to kill time. Come on, you can’t tell me that balancing a tennis ball on a racquet while weaving between cones is a worthwhile exercise.
But when it came to games, I really didn’t care whether I won or not. Whatever competitive spirit I had was squelched by an overwhelming instinctual drive to be nice. I didn’t want to beat my opponent, I wanted to play tennis with her.
My other downfall was my serve. When I tossed the ball properly, I had an incredibly accurate serve. Unfortunately, I only tossed the ball properly about 10% of the time. It didn’t really matter that the ability to throw is negligent in a sport where the amount of throwing = toss the ball two or three feet up in the air once in a while. Because basic gross motor activities that my cavewoman ancestors probably did every day without even trying, like running and throwing, were utterly foreign concepts to me.
No one ever taught me to run. Or throw. Or catch. I was twenty before Husband (then Boyfriend) took pity and explained that in order to catch a ball, I had to be looking at it, rather than employ my usual strategy, which was to stand there with my arms hopefully outstretched while squinting away from the object hurtling towards my face.
It wasn’t my parents’ fault. When the annual summer park-and-rec catalogues came out advertising all the different pee-wee leagues, our conversations went something like this:
Mom: Look, honey, T-Ball!! Wouldn’t you like to play t-ball this summer?
5-year-old-me: No!!! I want to take ballet!
Mom: Oooohhhh....look! Soccer! Would you like to try that?
6-year-old-me: No!!! I want to keep dancing ballet.
Mom: Well what do you know? Basketball camp! Doesn’t that sound like fun?
7-year-old-me: When does ballet start?
Finally, with the threat of remedial gym looming over my head, my parents went out and bought every piece of athletic equipment known to man, in hopes that something would stick.
I used the baseball bat, basketball, and some left-over jarts hoops to construct a makeshift mini-golf course.
So it might come as no surprise, that one thing - the tennis racquet - did eventually take hold, and the summer I was 12, I took tennis lessons. These lessons involved exactly eight weeks of drills and zero weeks of games, which was right up my alley. An alley that lead to playing JV tennis for two years, motivated entirely by the love of hitting-the-ball and the privilege of being able to wear the short tennis skirt to school on game day.