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It’s just a game!

October 7, 2002 05:26 PM

After finishing first in the fall league, I had the grand idea of moving myself up a level in the spring. I assured myself that by playing with the “Big Boys” I would be inspired to practice harder and be prepared for anything that could come my way in the state tournament in May. And just maybe this would be a reason to skip my late night dates with Miss Taco Bell.

How tough could it be anyway to play 4.5? I had hit before with these guys and just because every aspect of their game was superior to mine, why should I let that little fact stand in the way of greatness?

Picking my time and place carefully after consuming the Coach’s Corner adult beverage quota for the week, I popped the big question and asked Mark Ruzeski if I could join his team. Only after I promised him a year¹s supply of chicken fingers did he agree.

My game plan was to obtain a mental edge by recalling moments from my past glory. But somehow instead, my head was filled with memories of broken racquets, match points given away, missed overheads, and of not returning a certain opponent’s serve six times in a row!

But the worst memory was playing mixed doubles with Judy Pearce on a court with about 50 folks watching. Screaming, “MINE! MINE,” I (doing my best Johnny Bravo imitation) smoothly went back and promptly landed squarely on my butt, seeing stars and listening to everyone laugh as the lob landed directly on my chest as I lay on my back. Judy couldn’t serve for a set because her side hurt from laughing so hard.

So, playing 4.5 couldn¹t be any more embarrassing, could it? Surely not! If this was true, then why did I find myself deciding between purchasing an Ab Rocker or the “golden hits of the 70s” off my TV set in the early morning hours the night before the match? Was it because I had canceled my date with Miss Bell? Why couldn’t I sleep? I kept telling myself, it’s just a game!

Game Day. We won the first set. I missed maybe three balls and my partner, Ed Tymes, missed zero. During the change over I told myself to “keep it up and we would win.” Big mistake to think the “W” word! Naturally we lost the next set 6-2. Coming apart, I did what I always do, fuss at my partner. He is the reason we are losing and our only chance is if I instruct him how to play and tell him what to do (because I know so much and he has only been playing winning 4.5 tennis for years.) Good idea, Bryan!

Our other team matches had finished (score 2-2) so we were the deciding match. Maybe this is why I couldn¹t sleep last night! Our match finally ended and I had survived. Leaving the court I could only think about the anxiety I had put myself through the past 12 hours.

Why? How stupid. It’s only a game.

I hope I can’t sleep next time I play. I love this game!

-- Bryan Christopher, Columbus, GA

 

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