Saturday, March 17, 2012

Tennis Newb

I visited my mother and father in law in Florida during a quick in and out a couple of weeks ago.  Well, it was hardly a quick in and out because we drove, and it took a solid 16 hours to get where we wanted to go, Sarasota, Siesta Key/Longboat area, our second home, if you ask me. We will likely migrate there someday and I am getting ready for the culture.  This is a  fun place to hang and do nothing or do active living things.  I did not bring my bike as I have not been riding, at all.  Instead, I have entered a new subculture, a mircroculture with people doing a activity that up until now I have been unfamiliar, wearing a certain type of clothes, subscribing to a lifestyle of sorts, whatever you want to call it, these folks call it tennis. 

I know that my cycling brothers and sisters are shaking there head and I haven't gotten too many invitations to ride as of late because I have been hanging out at Racketman and various tennis clubs in replacement of Ballwin Cycles and Castlewood State Park.  I thought it would be cheaper than buying a 3000 dollar bike every other year, tires, tubes, gear, entry fees and tight Lycra.   However, just yesterday I found myself looking at tennis rackets just above the 200 dollar range and it appears that I am going to need another, because I am, ahem, breaking strings now.  Yes, breaking strings is a good thing cause the top spin is in full order.  Getting strings replaced is similar to buying your first bike, you have no idea what to tell the person in the pro shop, many choices, you feel like a dork and often look like one.  

I haven't even played a competitive match yet and I am already seeking out the cultural necessities to keep up with those who walk the walk.  I will need three rackets, and my new 90 dollar pair of prince tennis shoes (with the 6 month warranty) will yield to the 120 dollar Babolots by the end of the week. I need hats, sunglasses, apparel that oozes "I know which strings I want even though I am clueless".

So while in Florida we were able to play at The Meadows, a tennis club buried deep within The Meadows Development where Ed and Joanie spend a couple of months during the spring.  It is very nice and considered one of the best in Florida, so say the folks belonging there.  They have clay courts. This was really quite nice as my knees have been making the adjustment; I am in my 5th week of playing and my trainer, Mike Gibson, also a former cyclist (and former downhill mountain bike racer) has been careful not to push me past that which has been a little uncomfortable.  Just this week I have turned the corner and I have not been getting as sore. 

The calorie burn is not nearly as severe as endurance training on bikes, though Mike says I will eventually see the results in the amount of time being able to stay on the court.  I get pretty tired after and hour and a half.  Mainly in the legs.  This after hitting quite a few balls working on ground strokes for now.  I am used to having "less on the ribs" due to the cycling burn ongoing, lots more calories burned.  Lets face it, there is no better way to burn calories on low impact training than riding 60 or 70 miles.  With tennis, the jury is out for me on how it will make me lean.  I see some larger frames on the courts.  At my age I couldnt begin to figure out how much I will improve. Perhaps this will suit me this tennis thing. I was a little complacent this winter, 10 pounds worth of complacent.

I am also intrigued by the promotion of the the events and how the facilities run, the mechanics behind the culture of the sport, the revenues and expenses for the clubs etc.  This is the way it works for me, I gotta figure all this stuff out.  While playing at the Meadows with my daughter, assigned to court number 15, two people remarked that we were playing on what was Monica Seles court when she was on her rise. She was the one stabbed in her back by a crazy fan of Steffi Graf, who wanted her to win, well, pretty badly.  I did a little research on Seles and man, she was totally the real deal.  I am not sure the court made me a better player, but I am pretty sure that I will go back to that club and play again, regardless of how bad those folks figured I had know idea what I was doing, ifyouknowhatimtalkinbout.

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