Adventures in dangerous tennis

Adventures in dangerous tennis

It’s no secret that I’m not really wired for complex athletic endeavors. “Complex” meaning anything other than walking and sometimes running. However, I may have arrived at a new low over the weekend.

My roommate Jenny and I decided to play racquetball on Sunday. Jenny is probably the most athletically skilled person I know in real life. She’s one of those people who has an inherent understanding of hand-eye-body coordination. Surprising to no one, I’m not one of those people. What I have is an inherent understanding that I do not have hand-eye-body coordination, which explains my perpetual all-enthusiasm-no-skill approach to sports.

We’ve “played tennis” together before so she’s aware of the fact that, for me, playing tennis involves attempting to serve the ball over the net and pretty much ends there. A good rally is anything that happens after the serve. Tennis, though, is pretty straightforward. You hit the ball over the net. I understand that. There is no room for confusion except for the part about “love” which will always be a mystery to me, mostly because there is never any portion of the score in which I feel the love.

Racquetball is literally a whole different ball game.

I realize that racquetball is tennis with walls. But let’s just pause here to appreciate the fact that racquetball is tennis WITH WALLS. Walls mean angles. Walls mean speed. And do you know what the combination of angles and speed is?


Math that you have to evaluate in your head while moving.

There has never been a greater combination of skills I don’t have.

I talked to olive the things/chicken soup Lindsey about this today and, completely unprompted, she said, “Is racquetball fun? I’ve never understood it… like is it dangerous tennis, basically? Sans net?”

YES. That is exactly what it is.

As far as I can tell, the alliterative sermon points of racquetball are as follows:

  1. Anticipate where the ball is going
  2. Align your trajectory to the ball’s trajectory
  3. Adjust the angle and speed of your swing in a way that sends the ball to the back wall

Since I spent all of my time and energy working on one goal—hit the ball—I didn’t really have time to do all of those other things. My lifelong philosophy toward sports took over for the entirety of this experience: fling your body in a direction and hope for the best.

Which is why I spent an hour running around like a very expressive and uncoordinated gazelle.

For the record, Jenny had time to document these moments since scoring and actual game play quickly became irrelevant. Her primary source of activity was protecting herself from my flailing limbs/racket. Which is probably why, about halfway though, she suggested, “Maybe we should just jog for awhile…”

But we didn’t! We both stuck it out and are no worse for the wear. And I think we can confidently say the final score was Dangerous Tennis—1, Expressive Gazelles—0.

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