I watch the clouds attracted to the mountain. I ponder what animals they resemble and whether they will lead to rain. Will the rain be enough to stop us playing tennis? It was raining last night and a few puddles linger but they don’t restrict us.
A fence separates the birds in surrounding trees from the game of tennis. The tennis lines mark the limit of our game. The court is a soft, smooth, comfortable surface. The net divides the court into two opposing areas.
I amble in. I am now number three. We can play tennis when number four turns up. I peer towards the car park looking for number four. Trying to see who it will be.
Number four turns up and now we decide who is playing with who. And who is against who. After one set we can either change partners or go for revenge.
The game starts when I throw the ball up and serve the ball down the middle of the court. The guy receiving the ball hits the ball into the net and says, “You tampered the ball.”
We all have a good laugh. No serious cultural issues here. We are here to play sport. We are with our friends to play sport.
The players are all different. A lady who slices everything. Every shot she returns low and short. She doesn’t move that quickly so I will try to make her move. I will attack her weakness.
A lady who hits every ball hard. She belts everything. She has a good volley. Very strong and sure. Never doubt her volley. Be wary if opposing her and confident if partnering her. Very friendly lady, I don’t doubt that.
And the final guy is just good at everything. He can play short or long. Spin it or hit it hard. Run or volley it. Everything he touches is good. And he is not arrogant or boastful. When you do a good shot he says, “Good shot.”
When the ball hits the net and drops over he says, “Sorry about that.”
He is too good for me but I like playing against him because I know I will get a good game. A good game well played.
After a couple of sets we have a break. Unlike the cricketers we all sup together. Without any opponents. We are all together. On the court we were divided into opposition and teammates. Now we are all on the same side. I can’t even remember who my opponent was.
One lady talks about her grandchildren. She talks about them playing soccer at the weekend. They will eventually play against my grandson. Another lady talks about her art. Yesterday she was painting a watercolor of the mountain. I would love to see it.
One guy asked me about what film I saw this week. I tell him and say, “I would give it four stars. Go and see it.”
He tells me what other films the director has made and says, “Sounds like he is back in form. Hitting winners again after a period of bad play.”
We return to the tennis for our final sets. Different opponents and different partners.
I find myself receiving. The server throws the ball and hits it down the middle. I move my left foot towards the ball and swing my racket back. The racket thumps the ball and I watch the ball. Is it going where I wanted it to go?
Hopefully to his backhand. He doesn’t like it deep and bouncy to his backhand. If he returns it he will go across court and I will be ready for that.
The other lady we are playing always tries to lob me. I stand further back from the net making it more difficult for her.
I find myself playing with a guy I love to beat. I resent his court behavior but accept it. We are now playing together and doing our best to win.
I want a good game. I want long rallies. I want rallies were everybody runs and jumps and moves. Rallies involving everybody. A rally were nobody knows who is going to win. I want games where nobody knows who is going to win. I want an even set where the result is always in doubt.
Set point is announced. They win. We shake hands and depart. We have all had physical and social exercise.
The professional cricketers are on a planet where winning, marketing and money are important. Luckily we are on a different planet. I can’t even remember if I won. I always try to win and improve my play. Work on my weaknesses. I need to be more consistent on the deep backhand. I reckon somebody has spotted that weakness and is attacking it. I go home thinking I need to practice my deep backhand and feeling incredibly lucky that I can play sport without pressure. Nobody’s income depends on the result. The result will not be broadcast worldwide. And nobody has tampered with the ball.