#95 Whittier-Narrows Tennis Center, South El Monte

Dang, I only took one picture so you will have to — if you want to — imagine me a sweaty happy mess at 8 in the evening — and still light out!

This was a SoCal USTA big-group event combining lessons and liveball, and one reason I’m happy is I learned a lot. Take a split step, which is just a little jump, and then run five steps before you hit any ball. Why? I dunno. So you’re not just standing there, I guess. I kinda take it on faith because it comes from Mo, who runs Mo Tennis at Whittier-Narrows Tennis Center.

I think Mo might stand for Morocco. He said he was leading a tour to Morocco soon, so it kinda clicks.

He is a wild man, that’s the important thing. I really dug the way he held court for an hour and a half, cackling madly and flexing unashamedly while returning everything hit his way.


Scorchers, lobs, angle shots: Mo was on ’em. It really was quite a show! Nothing better than laughing when you’re getting ur ass kicked, instructionally.

I also heard about USTA being way up to help people get into leagues and also play singles matches. Wait a second — who do I know who wants to play singles matches all over LA County?

Maybe USTA So Cal can help me out with that?!!

Anyway, I am going to start watching the French Open any minute now and you bet I’m gonna be watching to see if the players always take a split step and five steps.

I bet they do.

That is really the main thing I learned, but coincidentally, it’s exactly what I needed to learn because even though my game has gotten a little bit better lately, I do still notice lots of balls wooshing past me on the other side of the court. Whereas, I also betchya that if I’m taking a total of seven steps per shot, I’m gonna be getting to a whole lot more balls.

Fortunately I have a bunch of games lined up over the next few days so I can put this theory into practice. I am very glad I trekked all the way out to South El Monte because in addition to picking up this useful tip and also meeting loads of friendly tennis folks, I also got a terrific plate of pollo asado at El Salvadoreño Pupuseria y Restaurant.


Go to this Salvadoran restaurant at the same time when you go to any good Salvadoran restaurant: when you are not in a hurry. Pupusas take time. That magnificently warm round white and brown masa, such a giant yum, but it does need 40 minutes to be done right, which is the only way to make a pupusa.

I’m retired, so typically in no rush; however, I did want to get to this USTA event on time, so I didn’t get to linger but rather ordered my pollo asado para llevar.

This is the real-est restaurant I have been to in a long while, and by real I mean, the front guy was very concerned that I get a glass of ice with my Diet Coke, and to clean the blue plastic tablecloth even though it was already clean. Everyone on their way out stopped to say “Gracias muchachas” to the cooks.

I also thought it was funny but also a let’s-not-ignore-this sign that I started ordering in español and it was all going great until I kept saying “si” when that same front guy was asking me if I wanted frijoles o ensalada, so finally he just asked me in English. You know you still have work to do in foreign language acquisition when they become impatient with your Spanish at a Salvadoran restaurant, where it is not daylight time but rather pupusa time.

It’s a sign to improve my conversational Spanish — another problem being retired can help solve. I potentially have the time to go back to El Salvadoreño Pupuseria y Restaurant. Bring friends. Bring family. Have it be my hang whenever I’m in Whittier. Which now that you mention it… it looks like I could play singles there at Whittier-Narrows on Monday and Wednesdays nights. I’d be down to check it out again.

I bet you I’d meet new people to play with on this quest. I know you’re thinking I coulda met them just from being at that one workout, but the truth is I feel like, you gotta show how you can play before you start asking people if they wanna hit.

I hustled at this event. I was having good results keeping my racquet head facing the ground. Topspinning forehands; ball landing deep. I felt satisfied with my game and also got the good breathing-hard and sweating it up feeling of a good workout.

I was also proud that I developed a mnemonic to remember my partner’s name and I was able to call her by it when I said thanks at the end of the night. We got way better in the 45 minutes we were playing together, going from never winning any points to usually winning two. Also we had fun and encouraged each other, which is what I saw everybody else doing. I would be glad to play with them again — it’s kinda far but maybe I can get a carpool going and we could get dinner at El Salvadoreño Pupuseria y Restaurant. That would be growing Spanish and tennis, together.

One comment

  1. Pupusas.
    That’s what think of when I think of Elizabeth Day, who introduced me to the pupusa at a small restaurant off of Mission Street around 24th.
    Plantain. Pinto beans. Sour cream.
    Now when I think of pupusas I will also think of Whittier-Narrows and you.

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