Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Mixed Company

It's that time again - the time we pretend to be football experts and pick the winner of the Super (yawn) Bowl. This year it's the Indianapolis Colts, who, in the distant past, played in Baltimore. Their quarterback, Peyton Manning, has more TV face time than Joe Biden, and that's just in Manning's commercials! Anyway, his team is a well-oiled machine so focused on the Super Bowl that it tossed away the chance to go through the regular season unbeaten by giving their regulars more rest. They're ready.
This year's opposition is the New Orleans Saints, a franchise which goes back forty years or so, but has an even more lackluster history than last year's runner-up Phoenix Cardinals. The Saints, who were once so bad that fans took to putting paper bags over their faces to hide their identities, finally have had a great year, and should provide adequate enough competition to keep folks watching those pricey commercials. Please wake me when it's over.

When we moved here, I wasn't sure what kind of schedule I'd have, but I knew I wanted to meet tennis players and - play. I did that more quickly than I would have thought, and have written about it in this space.
One thing we lacked through most of this time was women players. But that has changed. We now number Vicki as one of our regulars, which means she even shows up early to help dry up the courts when needed.
Vicki's experience with us is not her first in tennis. She already had a serviceable baseline game. But something in her must have clicked a few months ago, when she started showing up every day with an attitude that allowed her to learn the complexities of doubles as played locally while sharing with us guys some the details of her life.
She's in her forties, the divorced mom of two teenage daughters and the owner of a tiny sushi restaurant which has a name that means "lunch box". She's as tall as most of us, but doesn't hit a hard serve. Her daily efforts are paying off in terms of dealing with that old female tennis bugaboo, playing at the net. And she now has two of the same racquet, a dead giveaway that she's serious about her game.
Things on our local courts aren't just different. They're better. Vicki contributes in ways that men just don't consider. She brought cupcakes once, and another time she gave me a pair of purple shoestrings, really just because she likes the color. And she has all the inside dope on the local high school girls basketball team, for whom she keeps the statistics. She'll even "sit out" awhile to allow guys on their lunch breaks to play more. And I think the cursing is down a little.
The statistic we are all after, of course, is more "W"s. But unless your team is in the Super Bowl, winning isn't everything. So it is with tennis. Mixed company means an improvement.


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