Monday, June 7, 2010

Playing Tennis After a 30-Year Hiatus

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: WikipediaCatgut)  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,

preferably someone who knows CPR!


  1. LMBO -- great first post. You're gonna play -- golf and tennis? Won't you get your swings confused?

    I had a racket, a Prince, I think, when I thought I was gonna be a tennis player. When I realized that I was swinging for the fence instead of the net, I gave it up. I passed the racket to the nephews. They used it to swat carpenter bees.

    With all your hobbies, you won't have time for me.


  2. I will always have time for you. In fact, without our day trips, I won't have anything to blog about! By the way, my golf swing is so bad that nothing could mess it up! Thanks for being my first and only follower!

  3. Oops! I changed the moderation panel now.

  4. That's what I want to hear. Time for me...

    Blog material is easy. Just do stream of consciousness... it works.

    BTW: Where are we going first?

  5. What a great trip down memory lane!!! Despite my moves to OK, TN, GA, & now back to TN, I have managed to keep my old wooden racquet. It's a "Miss Chris" as BJK was on the way out, and I wore Puma or Converse tennis shoes. The Pumas because a certain boy on whom I had an enormous crush wore them (ah, jr high)...and the Converse 'cause they were the right size & because Nike was a no-name brand who made running shoes!!! :-)

  6. I like that you both referenced AND cited Wikipedia in your post. Is that a concession now that you're retired? ;-)

  7. David -- she's so gonna be cuttin' corners. LOL

    Where's the next blog?
    I got coffee.

  8. Wikipedia!? EGADS! If you need a REAL reference, don't forget that you still have connections.

    Love the post. Looking forward to reading about all the stuff you "retired" people do. I fully expect to read lots of stories from you and HG to keep me entertained when I am eating bon bons and filing my nails in the MC.

  9. Edie,

    I too have taken up tennis after a 30 year hiatus, and I'm having a lot of fun playing on league teams and tournaments. Also, after more than thirty years, I have found and fallen in love with my first girlfriend, a girl I met on the high school tennis team. With a little encouragement from me, she has resumed the sport and is enjoying playing on a women's team. As I recall, you two made a formidable doubles team. Her name is Beth (Hearn) Patterson, PHS class of "75, and she teaches kindergarten in Gwinett County.

    I hope you enjoy your return to the game as much as we have. If we ever visit Elijay, we'll bring our racquets and look you up. By the way, there will be an "all classes" PHS reunion next year on September 24 in Peachtree City. Search on Facebook for the details. Beth and I would love to see you there. If you know the whereabouts of other classmates, let them know too, especially those who played tennis at PHS.

    Dan Yarbrough
    PHS class of "77

  10. How exciting, Dan! I can't believe you and Beth found each other after all of these years. We had so much fun playing tennis back in the dark ages of wooden rackets although I remember that Beth switched to an aluminum racket while I still treasured the wood. I hope you enjoyed the reunion!