I went down again today in tennis.
Shelley and I had just solidly recovered from our initial crappy start; we were now tied, up from 0-4. She was serving and I was playing the net and all four of us were playing really good tennis in general. (I was very proud of us.) Someone hit a ball to my right and as I moved to get it, my right foot “stuck” to the ground and I misstepped and felt myself going down.
In that short time between upright and Plop, lots went through my mind.
Oh, shit, I’m going to fall on my tailbone again! The last time that happened, I was off the court for almost five weeks. I think I can prevent landing on it by shifting my weight, which I did and landed on flesh rather than bone. Why do I have such bad butt luck? This would be the third time in a year I’d be sustaining a tennis related butt injury. Does Serena go through that?
After both my Butt Sprain of 2009 and my Coccyx Contusion of 2010, I hauled my ass (literally) into various doctor’s offices and needed only one question answered: When can I play again? Missing tennis is unacceptable. Eileen plays with severe tennis elbow. Ann plays with strained hamstrings. Everyone comes on the court with Bronchitis and Sinus Infections and IBS. What is it about this game that no one can get enough of?
I knew a woman who had breast cancer and passed away a few years ago. Her name was Leigh. She was a cheerful woman and a crazed tennis addict – always tan, always dressed in pink, always smiling. I never played with her personally, but even after she’d relapsed, I’d see her in town in sneakers and a tennis skirt, a pink bandana covering her shaved head. I’d heard a rumor that she was buried with her tennis racquet beside her and at the time I thought, man, what’s up with that?
But here and now, I get it, Leigh. I get it.
My last thought on my way down: Will Shelley get the ball?
Indeed she did. “Stay down! Just stay down!” she yelled while she covered the whole back of the court. God forbid anyone stop the point to see if I’m all right.
It quickly occurred to me that I was all right though, so I picked up my racquet, jumped up and continued playing. The same point was still in progress and Shelley and I picked up where we left off and played it out. I think we lost that particular point, but I gave Shelley an honorary gold star in my mind for tenacity.
I actually gave us all gold stars today, because we have come such a long way. When Shelley and I took our first clinic together five years ago, we would sweat more from nerves than exertion. I would be terrified that I couldn’t get a serve into the box (which, usually, I couldn’t), and both of us were a wreck when anyone took a court adjacent to ours – we couldn’t control the ball well enough to keep it out of our neighbor’s game.
You would never guess that today. Four women who learned to play doubles (arguably one of the world’s most complicated games) after bearing scads of children and having little, if any, brain function left. We played with authority and control. We all looked like we knew what we were doing. If I may say so: we totally rocked.