#97-99 Weddington Tennis, Studio City +

Weddington Tennis Club was not even on my list but shoulda been and is now. It was the third place that me and my brand new tennis friend Q tried.

The first was George Izay Park in Burbank — beautiful park with many mature, lush trees. It woulda easily qualified as a gem but alas, the courts were full of pickleballers, which is great for them but whoopsie for us. I swatted one ball one time against the backboard, actually a handball court, just so I can say I technically played there.

Good thing I drove! That’s not something you will often hear me say, but me and Q could not have rambled all over the Valley looking for a place to play had I been like, oh, I’ll see you there in an hour, I’m just gonna hop on the bus. Though I guess I coulda taken a Lyft, the (un)official ride-service of my quest. Still, it woulda been a rigmarole. I drove ’cause I was tired, tarrrrrrrrrrd I say, of riding the bus and especially the Metro.

Sometimes I just get public transit fatigue. This week I had already taken Metro to Carson, that was four hours plus round trip; and then a big journey to Pasadena, another four hours round trip and that doesn’t even include the side trip to the Westlake/MacArthur station so I could scout a location for an upcoming LA Times story.

I l-o-v-e riding Metro — the convenience, the scenery, the time to think + low-key people-watch; read, zone out a little, not a lot. You do not want to let your guard down. I will say there have been times when I am settled in the way back of the 33 Venice, my gigantic tennis bag a buffer to the world, when I have snuck in a couple z-z-z-z’s. That’s rare, though. Typically I’m vigilant on Metro, because you do hear all kinds of hellacious stuff.


The violence on Metro, combined with the ever-present ride-along with homelessness, does make for a somber, ominous ride — a real-life counterpoint to the giddy freedom I feel being my own personal tennis-playing Don Quijote. I’m not gonna say this is “good,” just that it is real. I think a lot about how Walt Whitman made sure to put plenty of dying, defeated soldiers and sailors in “Song of Myself,” to keep his legendary self-exaltation real. To feel his soul embody the universe, he had to feel everything, e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g., feelingly.

Which does get wearying. I went to sleep at eight o’clock last night, while it was still light out — one of the longest days of the year. Too much light! And yet I got right to sleep, lulled by listening to this just-released Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band 1978 Tour compilation. That was the show of my dreams, the Darkness tour — BAAAAAAADlands…

The second courts we stopped at, Beeman in Studio City — those woulda served us fine except they were full. I thought, “Let’s just hop on a court and holler ‘Who’s got next?‘”

I figured me and my new friend Q could take ’em on, whoever they were. I’m not saying we would win, just that we would play. Playing is the thing.

Well, before I could even get beyond the sidewalk, this guy in an all-head-protection hoodie, some guy who does NOT want ANY sun, bears down on us behind the tall fence surrounding the courts to proclaim, “WE HAVE THESE COURTS AND IF YOU WANT TO KNOW WHY LOOK AT THE SIGN.”

Yeah. All caps in his spoken voice. Not inviting. Which is a lost opportunity in my opinion because the sign said the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenement halls. JK. The sign said Fridays and Tuesdays from 8:30 to 10:30 am, this 50+ group has the courts.

Which is fine. Let ’em play. That’s what I say. But here is the thing. Me and Q are both 50+ and then some. So Cap coulda instead said to us, “Hey, you guys look perfect to join our club.”

But instead, he snarled and drove us away.

In my opinion, this is not an everybody-wins strategy.

I hung around for a couple of minutes after Q said, “I think I might know one more court.” Meanwhile, I hit a ball against the backboard, so I could mark Beeman as played.

I practiced hitting hard.

Then I watched through the fence as Cap and his pals played unremarkable tennis. Me and Q coulda romped. But no, ol’ Cap had other ideas. Cap values territory and primacy. So be it, Cap. You’re allowed to have your own set of values. I just don’t think they are good for the game.

Q though. Q turned out to be indefatigable. We coulda given up after being pickballed at George Izay, hidden gem; and snarled at by Cap at Beeman — that coulda been it. But no, Q said, “I think there are these other courts.” He drove off, scouted them out, and sure enough emailed me back to say, “I’m on Court 7.”

I thought I had never heard of Weddington, but now that you mention it, yeah — they are these public-private or private-public courts in a residential neighborhood in Studio City, leafy as can be. Weddington had a good combo of swank and austerity. Lots o’ courts in pristine shape; however, the pro shop stocked with nothing but water. Q told me one of the more prestigious local private schools is fixin’ to take over the joint, build condos, reserve the courts for the use of the prestigious, and that Studio City is all up in arms over this.

Which, speaking of story ideas — hello! Serious note to self as local journalist.

Well, long story enhanced, me and Q hit and had the jolliest of times. He ran off quite an impressive list of orthopedic impediments, none of which seemed to stop him from hitting deep or scampering after balls. I don’t pay tremendous heed to my partners’ impediment narratives as they typically are some kind of hustle. In fact, the more a partner divulges to me about impediments, the more knowingly I nod. Q actually did serve underhanded, so I practice zinging the ball back up the line out of reach. And yet despite me having no mercy, Q is down to play with me again anywhere in the Valley, anywhere. That is beauty because I still have Lucky 13 to play in the Valley.

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