18 September 2009

Life at Courtside

A woman once told me that she had never met an unattractive man on the golf course. That was a bit disconcerting because at the time I was married to that woman, and I did not play golf.

At this point after nearly three months of living in the midst of three immaculately maintained clay tennis courts (I have become a casual friend of Teo, or Teodoro, the Mexican responsible for this immaculateness), I can honestly say that I have never seen an unattractive woman playing tennis. It matters not how young or old they are. As an abstract proposition, I know that there has to be physically less attractive female players out there in the world. I just have not seen one yet.

I hasten to add, though, that I am able to watch their game with complete equanimity—with the utterly becalmed soul of a man on the cusp of old age. Even with their cute little outfits that they need to adjust constantly and their heart-tugging earnestness with the game. I do keep a skeptical eye on Hans and Victor, the two pros and both single men, as they give instruction to these mostly young ladies. But based upon all evidence that I have observed, Hans and Victor's conduct is impeccable, although I have yet to figure out whence these children of theirs who are running around here quite often.

I am a late-comer to the game of tennis. I actually started to watch it a few years ago when I struck up a friendship with the tennis coach at a small college in my hometown. It is a bit difficult to keep track of the score at a small college tennis meet, unless you are the mother of one of the players. The players themselves flip the cards that display the score, and keeping up with that is low among their priorities. For me the score was mostly beside the point anyway.

Let me explain something again. My camper is parked such that the back of it nearly abuts the ivy-covered, chain link fence along the side of Court No. 2. (See entry of July 6 for aerial photo.) My bunk is in the back of the camper. I sleep literally within four feet of that fence. I regularly awake to the sounds of early morning tennis games, usually involving middle-aged professional men. Mostly Americans at that hour. I might as well be standing courtside.

Quite often a new player will join them, and they introduce themselves and explain what they do for a living. I have become quite well acquainted with them, and they do not know that I exist. To tell you the truth, based upon my acquaintance with them, I like it that way. A good many of them cheerfully share direct responsibility for the near economic collapse of my country.

But back to tennis. In the late afternoon heat a couple of weeks ago before the rains came, two young Mexican men showed up to play across the way on Court No. 3. I estimated them to be 19 or 20. Given their attire and their equipment, I guessed them to be from wealthy families. Nobody else was playing anywhere else. I was sitting with a book off the court but right off the end of the net at a shaded picnic table situated there.

The two were feeling their oats. Young studs. They had the swagger and arrogance of the athletically gifted. I do not recall either one ever going to the net. It was baseline to baseline all the time and the most exhilarating tennis I have ever seen at such close range. Every serve was a rocket, and every return was a rocket. The impact of their rackets on the ball had a sound that I had never heard before. I become mesmerized while sighting down the top of the net and seeing those white streaks zoom back and forth, clearing the top of the net by less than six inches every time.

It crossed my mind that maybe they were incapable of playing a game of finesse. But then I asked myself, why would they ever need to around here? These are the premier courts in town, and I had yet to see anybody who could touch them.


Robyn said...

Harumph! No photos of these two young studs? We have photos of fireworks, old buildings, even cartons of strange milk!

Señor Steve said...

Well, Jesus, Robyn. Put yourself in my position. I couldn't be out there snapping pictures of those guys. It would look questionable.

Robyn said...

LOL So true. I should have thought of that...