Monday, September 26, 2011

Court numéro trois

As it was a beautiful summer morning when I took this walk, I was not at all surprised to see people already on the tennis courts in the Luxembourg garden. That unmistakable "pop" of a tennis ball hitting a racket was echoing through the geometric forest. I stopped to watched a couple of volleys, then I was on my way.

Court number three in the Luxembourg garden. Click to serve and volley.

I became a tennis fan back in my high school days, in the mid seventies. Those were the days of Jimmy Connors, Chris Evert, John McEnroe, Björn Borg, Ilie Năstase, and Martina Navrátilová, to name a few. I liked to play, but never played in any organized fashion, except for high school gym class. That was no fun because the jocks saw tennis as an opportunity to hit the ball as hard as they could at the heads of those of us who were less athletically inclined. And it was always doubles play (if you could call it play) and I spent most of the time ducking rocket-fast balls flying at me.

I had more fun just playing pick-up games with friends after school and on weekends. When no one was around I'd bang the ball up against a wall somewhere. I was never really good at it and after a while I dropped tennis for a long time. I started watching tennis on tv again in the mid eighties. Those were the days of Andre Agassi, Boris Becker, Steffi Graf, Stefan Edberg, Arantxa Sánchez Vicario, Ivan Lendl, and still Martina Navrátilová, to name a few more.

I picked up a racket again in the nineties and took tennis classes at our local community college. I even played outside of class when I could find a partner. I still wasn't very good, but I enjoyed the game.

I went to my first Grand Slam tournament in 1997. You guessed it: the French Open in Paris. What a thrill that was. Ken and I had tickets for the women's final and the men's final that year. We watched Iva Majoli beat Martina Hingis in an real upset, then watched Gustavo Kuerten win his first of three French Opens, beating Sergi Bruguera.

I've been back to the French a few times since then, enjoying earlier rounds and more matches. The only other pro tournament I've been to is the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford in Palo Alto, California, a few times when we lived in San Francisco.

For the past fifteen years or so I've followed a lot of tennis on television, but I haven't played since 2002. There are so many sports channels available on tv these days and there is a tournament being televised from somewhere in the world almost every week during tennis season. And just in case you're wondering, the professional tennis season begins in January and concludes at the end of November.


  1. I recall, as a young boy, going to the Luxembourg with my father to cheer a cousin of ours who was an adept, and a champion if I'm not mistaken, of "longue paume", the ancestor of modern tennis.

    I wonder if the court is still there or if it has been kicked out to make room for tennis courts?

  2. You don't have to be very good at something to enjoy it, you just have to choose your level and play it for fun.

  3. Well, it's nice to have a sport to enjoy watching on TV. I imagine that lots of people watch lots of sports that they don't actually do themselves, non?

  4. Have you given any consideration
    to clipping the hedge every other
    year? I thought it looked lovely
    all "leafy," especially in the
    photos after a snowstorm. More
    time to watch tennis!

  5. I wasn't very good in a volley, but I had a killer serve.

  6. Didn't the French invent tennis?
    I enjoy watching on TV, but I could never play a sport with balls zooming by my head.

    I like the new profile photo!


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