Friday, June 3, 2011

Oggy is Out of Shape

I want to blame the quiche for my lack of health. This is the second quiche this week and this one has jalapeno pepper slices in it. I'm immune to peppers after eating real Mexican food for 8 months. Maybe I burned a hole in my esophagus.
I'm bicycling past the Babe Ruth field after a tour of downtown. I'm still in my painting clothes because I don't much care what I wear. My beard covers half my chest so it's not like a clean shirt is going to make people want to shake my hand.
So I'm watching the kids play baseball and pondering my lost youth when I hear "whapwhapwhapwhapwhap" real fast over by the tennis courts where I had been practicing serves about half an hour earlier. I know that sound and it is someone hitting against the practice board. That means it's someone without a partner and I've got my racquet. So I fly over there like it's a date and I can hear by the speed, consistency and echo of the ball off the board that this person doesn't miss and is slamming the ball. And the visibility is terrible because it is 9PM. I haven't even seen them swing and I know it's a player. As I think this I see the guy flub a swing and sends the ball over the board into the court I'm in. I fetch it.
"Up for a game?"
"I'm waiting for someone but we can volley until he gets here."

I'm thrilled because I've been hitting 50-100 serves a day to practice and I haven't found a partner to impress. My beard scares everyone away.

He comes over and has a perfect top spin on every volley that makes the ball pick up speed when it hits the ground. I find myself competitively swinging for the fences and ignoring my swollen knee pain. I grunt involuntarily like Bjorn Borg in the French Open.
"You've got skills," he says as his volley sails past my gizzard. I swing and the ball hits my forearm but manages to bounce back over the net.
I want to respond but I'm out of breath.
"Yeah," is all I can sputter out.

He's got me running all over the court so I charge the net and he lobs it over me and I run back and hit it left handed. His backhand swing is with two hands and is flawless. His forehand has a nasty spin that kills it dead before my worn sneakers.

Finally, I step back to serve. This is where practice takes over. The serve is all about technique and method. It's the same motion over and over. It's the one part of the game you can control exactly, like free throws. Everything else is competition. Serves are about perfect routine. The serve is you against yourself. So, the method involves toeing the line, bouncing the ball once with my hand and once with the racquet, tossing the ball straight up with my left hand as I rock back on my heels and then eyeing the ball until it just begins to come down at which point I use my 6ft of height and 3 ft of reach to hit it at the highest point with a slight side spin so the ball doesn't take off in flight over the fence. Even though we're practicing I try to show off and I haven't mastered the serve yet so the ball goes wide. He returns it easily. My next serve is the best I can do, right down the line. He hardly moves and returns a wicked slicing ball that I merely watch sail past me because I never got in position for a return.
"I played in high school," says the guy.
After some more volleying his partner shows up and I'm flailing at the ball because my perception is failing since I'm light headed and thirsty and seeing spots as I gasp for breath. I figure we played enough points for two games (unless his serve is atrocious he won both of them), so barely half a set. and about 1/16th of a match. And I couldn't breath.
"My name is Mike. Thanks for the volley."
" Thanks...."
"You look pale, Oggy."
"You need an ambulance?"

So, I'm going to try to make this a priority. What is more important than health? If playing tennis is wrong I don't want to be right. When was the last time you were out of breath?
Creative Commons License
Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.