Let Tennis Be Tennis
She just looked like she was in a bad mood. Had that stanky face on from the time she got out of her car. My partner, Angie, and I were stopped in our tracks as we were laughing uncontrollably about our kids' latest show-and-tell items they’d brought to school, a participation trophy and a jawbreaker the size of a small planet. (Why are they making
them so big these days?) We caught a glimpse of her getting out of her car, slamming her door which complimented the scowl on her face. I poked Angie in the side and said, “Uh oh…someone got out of the wrong side of the bed.”
We walked to the gazebo just next to court 3 which we had reserved for 1pm to play our make-up match due to rain. The ill-dispositioned woman walked up the stairs behind us with her partner in tow. “Is one of you Angie?” She asked. I gently pushed Angie forward using her as a shield to deflect any negativity that might waft it’s way toward me.
“Yes, I am.” Angie offered. “We will be on court 3 when these guys are done playing.”
“What do you mean, ‘When these guys are done playing’?” Didn’t you reserve a specific time?”
Angie corrected herself, “Yes, I did. We are scheduled to play at 1pm. They'll be done by then.”
“What if they’ aren’t?” She challenged. “Don’t you think you should tell them that we are here and have the court at 1 o’clock?”
“They still have 5 minutes, so we’ll let them know when it’s 1.” I interjected still shielding myself with Angie’s body.
“If you tell them at 1, then we’ll start late.” She pointed out.
Recognizing that we were thrust involuntarily right into the middle of this woman’s horrible day, Angie stepped aside, completely exposing my vulnerability, and went to speak to the gentlemen playing on our court. We could not hear what they said but both Angie and the man closest to us were nodding in agreement of something.
Angie returned to the gazebo and informed us that they were in a tie-breaker for the deciding set and would be done soon.
“Not acceptable!” The woman declared. “What's the score? How do you know how long it will take?”
I pushed my finger into Angie’s side and she quickly swatted me away. She stood cross-armed, did not answer the woman and watched the match unfold on our court. I did the same which infuriated the woman. She pulled her partner off to the side and pretended to have a “private" conversation with her. You know what I mean, she moved away but spoke loudly enough for us to hear what she was saying, “I can’t believe they are just going to stand here and wait for the court and make us late!”
Angie and I stood firm. I mouthed out of the corner of my mouth and soft enough not to be heard by our opponents, “What’s up her butt? A jawbreaker?”
Angie laughed. Then she laughed a little louder. Almost too loud. I only meant to lighten up the situation for my partner but her laughter, I was sure, would antagonize our opponents.
“Fine!” The woman screeched. "I’m going to tell them to get off right now. It’s 1 o’clock.”
She gathered her bag and partner and stormed down the stairs of the gazebo surely breaking that poor jawbreaker in half! Angie and I quickly ran after her to offer apologies to the men for whatever our visiting team was about to hurl at them. And with her first “Excuse me”, the men approached the net and shook hands. I didn't know or care who won. I was just relieved that they’d finished their match in time.
Our visitors pushed their way onto the court as we quietly explained to the gentlemen the situation we’d just had. The gentleman Angie spoke to earlier laughed and rolled his eyes as he wished us good luck.
After a quick warm-up session, the woman with the jawbreaker decided to serve. She bounced the ball at the service line in preparation to serve and said, “Have fun, ladies!"
Seriously? I know it’s something you say before the match but she’d already ruined any chances of any fun being had with them.
I wish we’d won that day. That was one of those situations where it became more than just tennis. A win would have shown her that her attitude was horrible. That she should treat people better. That life is too short to be so angry. That we were right and she was wrong. That honor always prevails.
Obviously, tennis will not do any of that. She took us out of our game from the start and we'd lost before we even stepped foot on the court. We weren't thinking of winning the match. We wanted to teach them a lesson. Instead, we left the court learning that no matter how bad things seem, no matter how chaotic our days are, no matter how mad at the world we got, we would never bring our troubles onto the court and drag total strangers down with us. That’s what friends are for!
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