I reckon that at the moment I’m playing more sport and taking twice the exercise that I have ever done during the whole of my life. I thought about this the other morning as I lay in bed trying to work out what part of my body was aching the most.
Yes, I am semi-retired now and don’t have to justify my existence to anyone anymore, so when I have some spare time it will be either tennis or padel, not forgetting long(ish) walks and gardening. In terms of the first two activities, I play tennis/padel with a group of mates and on occasions with women friends.
Believe it or not, this bi-gender grouping has in its ranks players as ‘young’ as 46 years of age and as old as 85 summers. If you were thinking I would be taking the ‘Micky’ out of this group of pals, you would be very wrong indeed. Putting the oldest and youngest to one side, mostly the rest of us are in our sixties and as I mentioned before we are all fit as the proverbial ‘Butcher’s dog.’
Indeed, our oldest player would have been easily the best player of all of us even 20 years ago! Happily, with a regular injection of youth (if you can still be a youth in your mid-forties?) standards inevitably rise and you don’t always have to listen to long boring stories that never seem to reach a conclusion. I have to say that it is my experience that both men and women competing in a mixed four, play much better than when they are in specific male and female groups.
However, there are one-or-two drawbacks with such a diverse age group of tennis tragic’s. Firstly, nobody can ever remember the score apart from the young lad I talked about earlier. A chorus of “What’s the score?” can be heard at regular intervals, then it turns into a random guessing game that can last throughout to the whole set. Usually some wag yells “half-past-three” so as to reinforce our groups tenuous link with sporting concentration.
As I’m now warming to my task, why doesn’t the server or his-or-her partner bother to carry spare balls in their pockets, rather than at the end of every point go to the furthest point on the court to find some in an annoyingly leisurely fashion? Nevertheless, tennis at our level can be a rather unhurried pastime what with women’s insistence of having a good long chat at each change of ends and blokes wanting to get to the club bar before some humourless plod chucks us all out on the dot of 5pm.
I was going to say a few things regarding the rather touchy business of line calls. Some of our brethren are somewhat cavalier is this regard, as I plead that my sumptuous top-spin backhand had “Just kissed the line” they never think so, as in “kiss my arse.” - whilst never being slow to argue the toss about a forehand drive that practically hit the back fence.
Anyway, enough about proper tennis for now - as I have become addicted to padel - tenis. How to explain it, if you’ve never played it? Well, for starters the courts are much smaller and there are glass partitions at the back and sides. Your racket is small and chunky and amusingly, regular tennis players usually take almighty swings at the ball to no avail.
I suppose it is a mixture (some would say a corruption) of doubles tennis with just a touch of squash and even table tennis to keep it interesting. However, if you are looking for a serious ‘workout’ where you actually sweat quite a lot on a cool day - this is for you! You can also insist that your partner picks up a ball when he’s/she’s walking about aimlessly.
Next week, I will introduce some coaching tips to my column, which will include why women are so competitive when it comes to buying sports clothing in outrageous colours. Men tend not to bother too much, indeed a friend and tennis buddy of mine, discovered a two week old banana in his kit bag and ate it up quickly, before it went off.
In the 1990’s before leaving the UK to live and work in Mallorca, I was lucky enough to be able to get tickets to Wimbledon for three years on the trot. In that time I saw many fantastic games - but, the finest sight I ever witnessed was Steffi Graf walking up our gangway sporting the finest pair of legs ever seen - they got an ovation all of their own.
Talking about sport, years ago I was at a children's party, surreptitiously watching a Grand Slam semi final in the spare bedroom. Just as the match was getting exciting a six year old walked in and ask what I was doing. I was watching the tennis, I explained. ‘
‘Because I like it’ -
‘Why?’ Precocious little shit. A moment later my then girlfriend walked in.
‘Yes, why do you like tennis?’ she said. Smelling blood,
‘I think it’s boring’ said the repellent infant
‘So do I’ said my soon-to-be ex girlfriend. After all, these things matter!
Homes sweet homes!
No more tennis I promise! On social media last week, there was on of those ‘click-bait’ features which asked Facebookers how many houses, flats and apartments, they have lived in during their lives. It seems that the average number was nine apparently. I suppose that this number will directly be effected by your age and economic circumstances.
I have just done a quick tally up and make it 14 places of abode and that number includes our house here in Mallorca where we have lived for almost 21 years. Where does the time go? I suspect that you will all be putting on your thinking caps as you will be surprised by how many places you have loved and had forgotten.