I guess I started playing tennis at the P.M.H. (Centennial Centre) grounds when I was hardly big enough to hang on to the racket or look over the top of the net. So many of us played because it was a fun sport that we could all afford, and all you really needed was an old hand-me-down wooden racket and a can of balls. Between school, sleep and chores I spent most of my time over at those red shale courts, sweeping the lines and cleaning up in return for lessons from a congenial care-taker and old-pro by the name of Edward Beard, a real character who I will never forget.
Old and young could play the simple game of tennis, which was great for fun and exercise and there were even a few tournaments to test our skills. Although yours truly didn’t play as much in my late teens due to other distractions and the need to grow up and get a job, I did stay in shape as much as I could, and can still chase the ball around pretty good with my new lightweight aluminum seniors racket. The game of tennis might have changed a great deal over the years, but is extremely popular throughout the world and is available for everyone to play at his or her own speed.
Tennis is a very simple sport, played between single participants on either side of the net, or by partners, also known as doubles. Each player uses a strung racket to strike a hollow lively rubber ball covered with felt (feels like peach fuzz) over the net in the middle and safely onto the other side. You can hit the ball as hard as you wish, as long as it lands within the marked boundaries, you get two chances to serve, and you will win a point or love when your opponent can’t hit it back. Bottom line, the better or luckier you are the more loves you get, and the winner has achieved a perfect match.
You can wear what-ever you wish to play tennis, but running shoes, shorts, and loose tops are preferred, because you move around a lot and it does get hot out there. The tennis court up on top of the hill unfortunately does not exist anymore, but the Ponoka Kinsmen have a fine facility right behind the Aquaplex. There are eight basic shots in tennis, including the serve, forehand, backhand, volley, half-volley, overhead smash, drop-shot, and lob. In most amateur games for you and me there is certain to also be: the home run ball over the fence and out of the court, the swing and the miss, and the duff and cuss shot, the latter just like golf. Doubles can also be quite hazardous, as you stand at the net and a wild serve from your partner or a quick return from the other side can catch you in many vulnerable spots.
For this week and last week I have been watching the traditional Wimbleton Tennis Championships from jolly old England, and would love to pass some of my observations on to all of you.
*The good folks in Britain are so fanatic about their Wimbleton tennis, which began in 1877 by the way, that they are now broadcasting the games on the radio. I can just hear the commentator; there’s a whack, here’s a smash, and I believe the serve has been called out. While the players have stopped for juice, rubdown break, or the ever-present English rain we will now have a commercial followed by a wee spot of tea.
*Just watch how talented those ball boys and girls are. They run for miles, never miss a scoop up and dash, and they have to keep track of everyone’s personal towels. The magic world of electronics has now entered the game of tennis, as gizmos in the lines indicate if those 130 m.p.h. plus serves are out by beeping, but players are allowed an instant reply if they wish to question the call.
*Whether it be deuce or 40 love everyone adores Maria Sharapova and the fashion flare of the Williams sisters, and while Roger Federer is the current Tiger Woods of men’s tennis, there are always many up and comers who can and do knock over the top-seeds on many occasions, which really makes the game both unpredictable and exciting.
*The grunt, growl, and howl are also now very popular during these tennis matches for both men and women. I really wonder if all that noise makes the ball go faster, relaxes the stress, or keeps all the fans awake during a long match? What-ever the case I hope that you all have a chance to pick up or borrow a racket and try a little tennis with family and friends this hot summer.
Questions from prospective visitors on a website to tourism Canada!
*Will I see Polar Bears in the street? (From Sweden).
Answer: It will depend what you have been drinking.
*It is imperative that I find the names and addresses of places to contact for a stuffed beaver? Answer: Phone the Bucky Beaver hot line! Have a great week, all of you!