Now that I'm retired and have so much extra time, I've decided to start playing tennis again. I played tennis many, many years and many, many, MANY pounds ago. When I was younger I played tennis daily and loved it, but it was one of the many hobbies I gave up because I spent so much time preparing for class and grading papers.
So, I started playing tennis again today. No big deal! I just thought I would pick up a racket and resume play.
First, I had to buy a racket since I gave all of mine away years ago, probably about two house moves ago. Since Walmart is the only store in Ellijay that sells tennis rackets, that's where I went, but today's rackets are all titanium or steel or some kind of metal. Back in my day, the rackets were made of wood and strung with catgut. Who knows what composition was used for my new tennis racket strings. (Just for the record, catgut does not come from cats. I know that from a good authority: Wikipedia. Catgut) Now that I think of it, back in the 1970's manufacturers were just starting to introduce steel rackets, but I stuck with my Billie Jean King wooden racket because she was my favorite player in the days before Chris Evert took over women's tennis. I still remember the night she beat Bobbie Riggs and proved that women could compete against men. (Billie Jean King Wins) I bet a teacher $10 that Billie Jean would win, but he never paid off that bet! I have not forgotten the bet and keep hoping he'll pay the bet . . . with interest one day.
Then I purchased a brand new container of three Wilson yellow tennis balls today for $2.23, roughly the same price I paid for tennis balls over 30 years ago! Adjusting for the cost of living, tennis balls are cheaper today than in years past. Can you think of any other object that has decreased in cost over 30 years? Back in 1974, gas cost about 32 cents per gallon! Now that I think of it, a brand new Billie Jean King racket cost $60 and about $20 more to have it strung. Since it was made of wood, the racket often broke and had to be replaced. Back in those days, tennis players also wore Pro-Keds, the only pair of tennis shoes specifically designed for tennis. They cost $20 a pair, outrageously expensive in the 1970s for a pair of tennis shoes.
Did I mention that back in the old days we used only one hand to hit a backhand? No one had a two-handed backhand until Chris Evert rolled around.
We also dressed in all white to play tennis.
And we never grunted when we hit the ball!
So, I took my new racket and new tennis balls to the local high school tennis courts and hit against a wall today. I never swung at a ball and missed, but that's pretty much the only mistake I didn't make. It was a long afternoon, and I am only happy that no one was around to see and hear me huffing and puffing. From what I can tell, however, tennis is not a particularly popular sport in Ellijay. All 12 courts within 5 miles from me were empty. I couldn't have found someone to play tennis with me if I had been adventurous and decided to play against a person instead of a wall.
For now, I think I will stick with hitting against a wall and practicing serves on an empty court. The wall doesn't laugh at me, doesn't hit drop shots to make me charge the net, as if "charge" were even a verb my body could attempt, and doesn't complain when I stop to take a water break.
Just for the record, the wall won today.
Maybe in a couple of weeks I'll find a former student who will play tennis with me,
Because of the bad economy that led to hundreds of teacher lay-offs in my school district, I decided to retire in June of 2010, the end of my 32nd year of teaching. I'm still trying to discern how I feel about retirement. Until recently, I maintained a blog about teaching. If you would like to read my thoughts about teaching, please visit: http://www.gladlywoulditeach.com/