Just out of college I took up the game of tennis and have been playing it for close to twenty years. I began playing in the United States Tennis Association leagues about 12 years ago. I am a middle of the road player, with a 3.5 rating, who enjoys the competition, exercise as well as the social aspect of the game.
Tennis is responsible for many of my friendships, especially here in Asheville. The game brings together people from different walks of life who I otherwise would have never met. Granted, you do have to have a little dough to afford the game, but compared to other sports it can be a fairly inexpensive sport if you chose to use public courts.
My tennis buddies aren't in the same station in life as me, and I really dig that. Some have children who are in college, some have grandchildren and some have no children. Some are single, some are widowed, some are retired. They all have rich stories, experiences and perspectives I genuinely enjoy hearing over a pitcher of beer at Jack of the Wood's - after a couple hours on the Aston Park courts. Even though I cherish friendships I have with parents who have kids the same age as mine, this is different. Our friendships aren't about our kids - although the conversation sometimes goes there. But in my tennis world, I'm not defined by my offspring. I'm me first, not someone's mom. There is something intensely satisfying about that I just can't put into words. We have rich conversations about books, politics (we are mostly on the same page here so we can 'go there'), social issues (one of my buds is a sociology professor), relationships and of course, tennis.
Our gatherings are NEVER without unabashed laughter. We gathered last weekend at my house to bid farewell to one of our home girls, who is moving to NH to be closer to her grandchildren while they are still young enough to dig her. We had a crowd for a while, but as the night wore on,, we dwindled to the usual suspects. My friend Kelly, pulled up, Dick In a Box on YouTube, a SNL video spoof on Justin Timberlake. We died laughing, but what was even more hilarious was that Kelly had apparently watched it enough to sing along with it.
My tennis game is nothing to write home about. I'm far from the best on my team, but I do make my presence known on the court, mostly by singing at the end of the point that I just blew. Something I say to myself to remind me of what I should have done differently like, "Get down", continues with "on it" and I'm singing "Get down on it. You got a feel it. Get dow ow on it".
My home girls just laugh and move along. My friend, Susan, keeps hoping that Gladys Knight, part time resident and tennis player in Asheville, will show up across the court from me and we can have a singing duel. Hmm, wonder who would win that battle - grammy winner with amazing voice or part time tennis player and wannabe Jennifer Nettles (Sugarland)? I don't think I'd win the face off in that category with Ms. Knight, but I'd be willing to give it a try.