They’re just sitting there, collecting dust.
The strings are shot. The grip has faded. The dampener doesn’t fit anymore.
Nine years have passed since I’ve held a tennis racket. And this year’s Wimbledon tournament is persuading me to get those rackets out again, lace up the tennis shoes and head to a nearby tennis court for a fun rally.
What started out as another form of conditioning for baseball 16 years ago, turned into a new passion full of promise. Four years of high school matches, including playing two tournaments in the offseason, presented an opportunity to compete collegiately. Several colleges showed interest, including Doane in Nebraska and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
But I wanted to go to school in state and my rating wasn’t good enough for Division I. Division II or III was an option, but Nevada was the only college in the region offering tennis.
The beauty of this sport, though, is that I don’t need a collegiate career to continue. USTA tournaments are available throughout the year with several in the Reno-Tahoe area. They’re competitive and still fun. I competed in a few of these after high school and held my own against competitors from California.
Since 2005, though, I’ve been on a court less than 10 times. I can’t explain how the competitiveness suddenly vanquished. But instead of trying to dwell on why my tennis rackets are buried in the shed, the ongoing tournament in England has sparked my interest once more.
After watching Serena Williams battle over the weekend to advance to the next stage and face her older sister, rekindling my relationship with this overlooked sport is slowly becoming a priority. It’s good exercise and helps the body maintain eye-hand coordination at a high level.
Besides the exercise benefits, it’s a great opportunity to have fun and build friendships similar to the group that frequented the regional tennis courts every Saturday morning. I miss swinging the racket, racking up aces or executing a drop shot. What I miss more, though, is the many matches and rallies against Fallon’s best.
While watching Wimbledon over the weekend, my wife sat down and couldn’t take her eyes off the match. She was engaged, asking questions about the scoring and what the lines on the court meant. It was refreshing to talk tennis after such a long hiatus and then my wife surprised me.
“I would love to learn how to play tennis,” she said.
I was a little stunned and jumped at the opportunity about teaching her this sport. And not just her. Our two kids would find joy in getting to smack some tennis balls on the adjacent court while mommy and daddy are rallying.
But there’s some work to be done to make this happen.
Those rackets that have collected some unnecessary dust are begging to come out of the shed. The strings will need to be replaced. The grip will need to be re-taped.
But I’ll have a partner to compete with next time I step onto the court.
Thomas Ranson can be contacted at email@example.com.