I played with my new friend Phillip, who is a coach and does a tennis podcast. He and his podcast partner Valerie interviewed me about the quest last week, and I was delighted for the chance to articulate a lot of the stuff I’ve just been doing based on instinct, such as how this whole quest is partly an homage to my family. You could listen to us go super-deep on Phillip’s site Love Set Match.
As for the tennis today: I had been a little anxious because I wasn’t really in the market for coaching. I’m pretty happy with my game, which is not to say I think it’s perfect. Hah. Please. But it is clear to me that what I need to work on next is mobility, so I don’t lose as many points because there just ain’t no way I’m gonna reach that ball.
I know there are related issues such as pace and placement that let my opponents smack balls out of my reach. I’ll attend to those once I have picked up a step or two using my new rope ladder-on-the-ground.
One thing at a time. Meanwhile, I had a fine time playing with Phillip. I needn’t have worried about him offering unwanted coaching because he was more than 100% chill. We spent most of the time enjoying the lingering sunlight of one of the shortest days of the year.
We played a couple of sets even though, y’know, he’s a coach, but I saw this is a good opportunity to just let it all hang out and see what happened, which was what you would expect, a thumping, but a gentle thumping. Between sets he did ask, “What did you notice about my play?” And since “what did you notice” is my favorite question, I happily answered, “That you’re kind and a good sport.”
Then I asked him the same and he said, “You’re tenacious” which is indeed the book on me, at least the book I choose to read, so I felt seen and that is always good. I also heard him say he noticed me going up the line almost all the time, as opposed to cross-court, which is a much higher percentage shot. Really? I had no idea. There’s something I could look into. And it did not feel like being coached at all. It felt like, news I can use. Thanks, Phillip!
We chatted some more about how pretty the golden hour was up on that hill in Monterey Park. Then I ambled back down the hill taking in the sunset. I got me a big ol’ bowl of beef stew and udon noodles at Alice’s Kitchen on Garvey. Next time, I’d get it with more organ meats because I felt like the broth was really calling out for kidney and tripe. Still, it more than hit the spot. Shitake mushrooms. Yum. It was as satisfying a soup-inhalation as you could want.
Then along came the 70 and another ride through Monterey Park and East Los Angeles that could not be beat. Some youths back there in the wayback with me were eating peanuts and minding their own Modelos while respecting the classics — contributing to the people’s soundtrack “I’d Rather Go Blind” by Etta James, followed by “Clint Eastwood” by Gorillaz. It was like next generation Art Laboe RIP — it’s that time of year to remember those we’ve lost — and just as we were getting into “Gangsta’s Paradise” by Coolio RIP, the busdriver comes back and says they gotta dump their beer outside if they want to stay on the bus.
Which I respect and support, as did our tunesmiths, who exited but alas did not come back. I missed the jams but you know how it is, the busdriver rules.