It was walk-on tennis at its finest this morning, after a two hour bus ride and a mile-plus walk. I worked up quite the sweat while noticing trees, bright yellow flowered senna and white oleander. It was beauty, beauty, beauty; wonder, wonder, wonder; trudge, trudge, trudge.
Then finally I make it to the court, getting directions from a groundskeeper raking trampled playground sand into smooth grooves. Right there on the other side, he guides me. Sure enough here are the courts I heard about on the Tennis Players in Los Angeles page. You can hear guys playing a tiebreaker, oh it’s close, now someone won, am I just gonna walk immediately on?
No! Some other dude is playing, a young curly headed guy in bright red socks, that’s cool, you play first, kid. Meanwhile one of these guys is immediately welcoming me, you wanna hit over there?
Sure I do! This is my first time hitting with my new Head racquets, have I mentioned that Head is my racquet sponsor now? Heck yeah! I am sporting two brand new bright orange Radicals, yeah that’s right, and now here I am playing with this guy I just met and I can tell right away these racquets and me are gonna be great friends. It’s just like yeah, this is how I am meant to hit the ball.
We rally for a while, practice serves, everything is beautiful. These courts are in the middle of a big park with lots of facilities and trees but all you can see from the courts are some power lines and the sky, which is marine-layered with the sun trying to break through.
I talk with this friendly guy who asked me to hit. We talk about physical therapy, which is what he used to do before he retired. Pediatric physical therapy. Now that he’s retired he’s taking classes in orthopedic physical therapy, the regular kind. I tell him I owe a lot to physical therapy and that good physical therapists strike me as being good psychologists.
He says it’s all about motivating people. We are in agreement. He urges me to get in on the next game. I jump in, my new partner tells me his name is Francisco and he has six brothers, all named Francisco.
“You serve,” he says in the middle of giving me the taxonomy of Franciscos.
“Glad to,” I tell him.
I come out smokin.
Ace that first serve. The other guys immediately start calling me Marko. I’m scampering, I’m volleying. They’re calling me Marcus Aurelius. I’m tapping racquets and grinning with Francisco. We go up a quick 3-0 because I have never known love like this before, racquet-wise. Also all these guys are non-stop with the patter, great shot, great hands, great idea, great greatness.
Things go downhill after that for us score-wise. This will happen. “I am having fun!” Francisco affirms many times, downhill notwithstanding.
“That’s what it’s all about,” I affirm.