There is something satisfying about the resounding thwack of a tennis ball being hit skillfully in the right direction by a tennis racquet. I'm not sure what it is, but I know it's something I never, ever hear on the rare occasion that I've played tennis.
Now, in general, i'm a pretty physically skillful person. I'm not being arrogant, i'm being honest. I'm pretty good at many things, especially sports. However, tennis, and in fact most ball sports, remain somewhat of an enigma to me. The whole hand eye co-ordination thing just doesn't come naturally: I can co-ordinate the hands, and I can co-ordinate the eyes but when it comes to getting them both happening at once, i just cannot get that shit together.
I had tennis lessons in grade 6: it lasted exactly one term. I'm not sure if my tennis teacher or my parents thought that was enough, but it was decided I should stick to what I was good at, staying far away from anything remotely round that flew at great speeds in my direction. Apart from waterpolo (the ball is big, and yellow, and rarely flies at any speed), this is a rule of thumb I have pretty much stuck to ever since. I would love to be one of those people who eventually plays social tennis. Sure, the social part I have downpat, the tennis, no.
I think this is possibly why I enjoy watching the tennis so much. Oddly, it doesn't in any way make me feel inferior. Instead, I sit transfixed in front of the telly each night and all weekend, staring in awe at this immense skill these athletes have, which I for some reason cannot even remotely begin to master. It is quite convenient that the Australian Open falls at this time of year, because it means when I finish work I can go straight home and plonk myself in front of the tv or in bed and stay there for the whole night. I think anybody watching me watching the tennis would probably laugh: I ooh, I aaah, i shout and cheer at the screen. I jump around when I get excited by a close game, and I give much needed and highly valuable tips to whoever happens to be doing the wrong thing at the time: my arm-chair coaching skills are second to none.
Many people I've spoken to in the last couple of weeks have made noises along the lines of "Tennis, oh how boring." To those people: I challenge you to find another game in which almost every game is nail-bitingly exciting, and involves such a high level of skill, over such a long period of time. Each of the grand slams is like a marathon... in fact, longer than a marathon! Many of the 5 set games the guys play go for 3 or 4 hours, and I don't think you'd find many marathon runners doing 4 or 5 or 6 marathons in a two week period... much less doing that four times a year at 18, 20 or 22 years old.
I will forever remain a fan of tennis. In my imagination I am a tennis star, unfortunately for me though, I have a feeling this is where my skill will remain!