Monday, September 5, 2016

A Tie

"Chilly for willy!" Tony calls from across the court.

On another day, it might be "ping for wing." What it really means is: it's time to rally for first serve.

In today's match, anything could happen because we are playing outside; I insist since the beautiful weather will soon pass, and soon we'll be playing in the windowless gym.

This morning, it took time to get to the tennis courts with pickleball-painted lines. First we had to stop at Harward Fruit and Vegetable stand because the big watermelons go fast. In a few more weeks, watermelons will be a thing of the summer-past, but Tony will hold out and will keep buying them until even he can't enjoy the soggy out-of season melons.

Today the stand is crowded with people~~Saturday morning shopping for the last fruits of the season. We pick up plums, a few peaches, a small bag of beets, a baker's dozen of corn. I've become friends with Walker, the young man who mans the stand on Saturdays. He's delightful and tells us he's giving us a deal on the beets. I'll drizzle these beets with olive oil, roast them soft and toss them with pomegranate vinegar.

Our next stop is in search of the pickleball courts Lindon City is supposedly building. Instead of finding courts at City Center Park, we find a helpful police officer running his German shepherd. He gives us directions to the new pickleball courts with a warning, "The nets aren't up yet."

With hope the nets were just hung, we pursue the new courts. Four of them, and close enough to ride our bikes. They still need paint lines and a surface, but we hope it's before the weather changes.

I win the chilly for willy this morning and serve the first ball. Tony passes a beautiful shot out of my reach. It's going to be a tough match. My calming mantra on the court kicks in, He is not the enemy.

Score: Tony 1, Pat 0

On the court, I tend towards over-competitiveness with Tony, and more than likely it's because it's the only way I can beat him. I have to be on my game, but today I'm a little distracted. It's more about the ambiance, the cloudy sky, the first cool breeze after days of temperatures in the 90s. It starts to sprinkle and then a downpour. I love it!

Score: Tony 2, Pat 0

The courts take a while to get used to. They are tennis courts with pickleball-painted lines, and I have been playing tennis this past week. The school coach is on a trip and I was asked to coach for a week and a half. The girls ask me if I've had any experience. "I was a ranked youth player," I respond. Not wanting them to expect too much, I add, but that was 40 years ago. Frightening.

"Did you play college tennis?"

I don't want to disappoint them, so I tell them "No, but I did teach one summer at a university sponsored tennis camp." Okay. They seem satisfied. I add a caveat. "But I've been playing pickleball and I hear it ruins one's tennis." We shall see. Indeed it does. I have instruction skills to help the girls, but my own playing-tennis-skills are grossly under par.

Score: Tony 2, Pat 1

The courts we are playing on sit to the side of a pavillion with barbecues, picnic tables, a playground. The party gathers and not much time passes before we smell the last of the summer get-togethers. "See Tony. What could be better than playing with the smells of a barbecue." This must infuse Tony with energy because the score creeps up:

Tony 3, Pat 1
He has officially won the match.

On some level I refuse to give in. The Happy Birthday song erupts from the pavilion area; the rain has cleared; my head is in the game; the distractions float away like clouds.

Score: Tony 3, Pat 2

A slight wind kicks up. Tony realizes the tennis net is higher than the regulation pickleball net. He wanks a forehand and his negative spiral kicks in. I now know we will walk away from the court with a tie. I insisted this is the last game; it's past lunchtime and I'm hungry.

Score: Tony 3, Pat 3

These precious last days of summer.