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Last call for the gotta play tennis podcast

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

REFLECTIONS: The last hit of the season

There is a song entitled "The Last Game of the Season" from the 1970s, and the lyrics speak of a boy on the local high school football team whose father diligently listens each week for his son to play. He listens because he is blind, and he will never be able to see his own boy give his all for the team. But not being a star player, the boys options were limited–until the last game of the season. The home town was all but down and out at half-time, and unknown to anyone else, the boy receives the phone call that his father passed away that very evening. In an effort to show his father what he is truly capable of, the son plays his heart out and helps the team come back and win. The boy becomes the star player his father always knew he could be, and the son believes his father saw him on the field for the first time that night. 

Tonight I thought about this story. You see, this was probably my last hitting chance for 2012, and I wanted to do well. The wind swirled at 12-14 miles per hour, the temperature was about 45 degrees, and only half the lights were switched on at the local public courts. No worries I thought, because I was determined to be at my best. Each and every year at this time, I always wonder if I will be able to once again hit at this level the following year, continue to cover the court like a blanket, and make the quick and correct decisions tennis required from shot to shot while maintaining healthy joints, cartilage and muscle.

After about 1 hour and 15, my partner and I were in another heated and toughly contested rally. The groundstrokes lashed out like a snakes tongue, and the court coverage was nothing short of spilled water. Finally, Freddie hit a drop shot drawing me to the net. Using smart tactics, he followed in behind the shot looking for a weak replay from an expected overly-extended stab at the ball. He of course anticipated an easy volley put-away. But you see, it was the last hit of the season and my father was also watching. Twenty-two years ago, he died early Christmas morning. And even though he never got to see me on the court while alive, now he got to see me dive for the ball, tuck and roll, and hit a chip lob over the head of the net-rusher for a clean winner. 

I will never be the star of any team, and I certainly had nothing on the line tonight. But like any son, I wanted my dad to see my very best. It was the last hit of the season, and think I may have made my dad proud.

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