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Last call for the gotta play tennis podcast

Thursday, July 2, 2009

HOW TO…What challenges does tennis provide

TENNIS requires only two people, tennis courts are publicly available, and the equipment need is limited and low cost. But don’t be fooled by the seemingly casual face of this game. 

Assuming that you want to do your best, it is not a sport for those unwilling to put forth considerable effort. The learning curve is lifetime.

  • Tennis is an individual effort with no substitutions.
Unless you are playing doubles, you alone gain all the glory for great shot making, or take all the grief when things go wrong.

  • Tennis moves fast, with rapid exchanges from the backcourt or net; most times there is little chance to ponder a shot.

One needs to consider all of the following simultaneously: the court boundaries, the type of oncoming shot, and the location of your opponent; you must make decisions within seconds

  • Tennis has a social aspect to the game.

You must use everything in your strategy and skill-sets to take the most points. Your ability to hit the most effective shot might be exactly what makes your friends, relatives, boyfriends/girlfriends or spouses frustrated at themselves, and then in turn, angry at you.

You must make all of THEIR line calls, within fractions of an inch on a swiftly moving ball, on your side of the net. Can you imagine if a batter in baseball could call balls and strikes for himself? And what happens when they disagree with the call?

  • Tennis is also generally an outdoor sport played under very inconsistent and ever-changing conditions. Particularly problematic are:

– Sun glare (especially on the serve and overhead)

– Light and Dark (as one moves from sunlight into shadow, or from daylight  to dusk, or playing under the lights which is again a whole new experience)

– Wind intensity and direction (that blows the ball around making your shots land long, or short, or simply moves the spot where you intended to make contact with the racket)

– Temperature (cooler temperatures harden the rubber inner-ball core and change the bounce)

– Humidity (which makes the outer fuzzy surface of the tennis balls feel heavier)

– Distractions on public courts in community parks (kids squealing on playgrounds, radios blasting, or just a lot of background movement seen through the fence behind your opponent)

  • Tennis has the most arcane scoring system and set of rules known to man.

Points are based on the face of a clock using segments of a quarter hour instead of 1, 2, 3, and 4

Even the quarter-hour segments are not consistent since the score is called as 15, 30, and then 40 instead of the expected 45

Matches last 6 games won, or 7 games won as in 7-5, or 6 games won with a tie-breaker played at 6-6 (which can be to 7 points as sudden death or "lingering death". The score is stated as 7-6. And don't even ask me to explain who serves, when, or where!

  • Tennis matches have no time limit and no time outs. Since the clock is not an issue, a player cannot use it to waste time while his opponent desperately tries to catch up.

You are always only one service break away from the match totally changing hands. If you play just a few loose points, you can find yourself behind by a set in moments.

Pressure stays focused on you non-stop. The amount of hits in a rally (hitting back and forth) are unlimited, and the length of a match can vary from an hour or so to best of 5 set matches that have taken almost 5 hours in professional tennis. Can you think of any other professional sport that comes close to matching this?

TENNIS is a game where you not only battle the opponent, but your inner-self as well. It is one of the true physical activities that are lifetime pursuits, and it can be shared with all members of a family at whatever level you so choose.

So give tennis a try. It might just be what you were looking for.

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