I’ve been playing tennis once or twice a week in preparation for the USTA season. Last night one of the players couldn’t make it, so another player called a guy friend who showed up ten minutes later. I have been playing with all women for the past several months, so maybe this was why this was more noticeable to me. I’m a fairly (my father is scoffing right now at the use of the word “fairly”) competitive person, but when a guy steps on the court, my competitiveness takes on a new twist.
It is a pretty understandable fact of nature that any guy who plays tennis regularly will assume that he is the better player when he plays with a woman. I can see this assumption permeating his body language. Now, I’m not some sort of die hard feminist. I don’t want to destroy him and wipe the court with him. I don’t mind losing to this guy.
But I want to shake his assumption. Bad. I want to see his confident stance jump back at the unexpected speed of the returning shots. I want to ace him and see his posture change to a physical representation of whoa. It is fun to shake someone’s assumptions and see them become more alert and back further away from the service line for my next serve.
After I put away a couple of this guy’s fast serves and aced him, then I settle in and just have fun. I’m not necessarily that great a player, but I can pull out some good serves or shots from time to time. For a long time, my tennis game was very responsive to my anxiety and I frequently choked, got tentative or fell apart. Not these days- I’m amazed at what my body can do when I let go. It feels like I never stopped playing, that I’ve just picked up where I left off, without the anxiety or frustration. I try not to regret that this has not happened sooner.
A warm spell has returned and melted the snow away. My birdfeeder is already half empty.
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