Tennis: Mixed Doubles

Anyone who has been following this blog for a while might have been expecting this week’s post to be athletics-based, given a certain event that took place last Sunday and the months I’ve spent whinging about it. Indeed, I too had expected to spend Monday whimpering on the sofa, mournfully counting my missing toenails as I wrote about completing my second London Marathon. Alas, my stupid legs have continued to be, well, stupid and when running for the bus came to be agonising, I took the (not easy) decision to defer my place to next year.

It would be disingenuous of me to say that I was disappointed not to run 26.2 miles last Sunday, because frankly, I don’t like running. However, I was sad to let down the lovely, lovely people who sponsored me, disappointed not to be able to complete my second marathon in a better time than the first and I’m frankly gutted that I’ll have to train for it again next year. Still, let’s accentuate the positive; I guess it’ll help keep me on the straight and narrow when this project comes to an end. And for about 2 days in January, I had visible stomach muscles. It’d be nice to see them again, one day.

So this week, I turn to the genteel sport that is tennis. I actually like tennis. I understand the rules, and the scoring, and I enjoy watching it. I like that 90s tennis star Andre Agassi used to wear a weave and I like it even more that he and fellow 90s tennis star, Steffi Graf, are now married. It’s kind of like when the student teacher got pissed at the A Level History Christmas meal and revealed that two of the PE teachers were involved – it just felt right.

It's all fun and games until the bouncer confiscates your racquet, then you just look like you've got shit hair

It’s all fun and games until the bouncer confiscates your racquet, then you just look like you’ve got shit hair

I like that it feels very English, but Britain’s being propped up by that mardy Scottish chap (and that there is a real life tennis player called Mardy Fish). I have to be careful what I say about Andy Murray, because apparently people get a bit arsey when you tweet “COME ON TIM!” during an important match (it’s still funny, I don’t care what you say).

Sorry, did you just say my hair is shit?

Sorry, did you just say my hair is shit?

I also like that of all the grand slams, really, you want to win Wimbledon. I always felt that I’d quite like to win Wimbledon one day, but at 30 years old, and with no actual ability I think I might be a bit long in the tooth to make this dream a reality. I don’t, however, much like that the men’s singles winners at Wimbledon get a cup and the women get a plate. Know your place ladies…

JUST like that ropey 90s Athena poster

JUST like that ropey 90s Athena poster

With all this love for tennis, I was excited about Inspire a Jen regular, Gemma, organising a game between us and her flatmates, John T and Colin (who’s confusingly a woman and really called Mellissa). Though having recently been delivered the damning indictment that my hand-eye coordination “isn’t great” by NFO Seb, I was naturally expecting to be terrible.

Luckily for me, it’s been decided that tennis whiz John T will partner me in the competition. Even better, John T also coaches tennis. Less luckily, Colin is apparently a dab hand and Gemma, who you may remember, “knows of many tables” for ping pong, also knows of many courts for tennis. My favourite thing about this particular court in Kennington, is the Nike Swoosh that’s been incorporated in an incongruous looking mosaic on a wall in the car park.

Festive

Festive

I think my undoing, in terms of sports involving balls, is that I panic whenever the ball is near me and just do whatever I can to get it away. This usually doesn’t involve much consideration as to where the ball might end up, which is not ideal in a strategic sense. I’m also quite bad at judging the distance between myself and the ball, which John T picks up on straight away. This is not, however, something that I can really improve on much over the course of one game. Though, other helpful tips include teaching me to follow the shot through with a “windscreen wiper” move after I’ve hit the ball. I can’t remember what the point of this is, but it definitely helps.

John T teaches me to be less rubbish

John T teaches me to be less rubbish

After we’ve rallied for a bit and I’m making a bit of progress, we move on to a proper match. Colin and Gemma win the toss and take the first serve. Evidently, you can’t polish a turd and the game is over pretty quickly as I fail to return any balls within the boundaries of the court, a few even land over the fence. If only I could harness this power for good.

John serves next and we fare better, as he can actually play, though I’m still completely useless and again, we lose the game despite making it as far as a deuce. In fact, the only time in which the match gets particularly interesting, is when I step up to serve. I think it’d be fair to say we all felt a bit nervous about how my serve would go down, but unbelievably, I’m quite good at it. With John there to return the ball, this is a nail biting game as we dip in and out of deuce about 5 times – admittedly an indication of a bit of inconsistency in my form.

Unfortunately, the inconsistency costs us dearly and we lose the game and, ultimately, the match.

Surprisingly good at serving

Surprisingly good at serving

I apologise profusely for the most underwhelming sporting experience of their lives, but true to this polite English game, they are quick to silence me. Colin thinks I should be proud of my serve, Gemma tells me I shouldn’t underestimate the wind, and John T reminds me that it’s just a taster session, after all. I like tennis, and I may well be crap at it, but I’m going to play it again, damn it.

Gemma, Colin and John T play proper tennis

Gemma, Colin and John T play proper tennis

So Gemma and Colin take the gold medal, but I think John deserves one as well, because he taught me the windscreen wiper trick, he’s very good, and let’s face it, I was completely redundant at the end of that match. Gemma’s gold medal adds some excitement to the otherwise relatively disinteresting medal table as she shifts Jade out of second place, but with BMX on the horizon, how long can Gemma stay there?

Gold

Silver

Bronze

 Total

Jen

8

13

1

22

Gemma

3

3

Jade

2

1

3

Nick

2

2

Uncle Becky

1

2

3

Harriet

1

1

2

Chloe Rogers

1

1

Colin

1

1

Dalston Dunkers

1

1

Daniel

1

1

GB Handball

1

1

John D

1

1

John T

1

1

Naomi

1

1

Otter Water Polo

1

1

Romford HC

1

1

Ruislip Eagles

1

1

Steve

1

1

Su

1

1

Vera

1

1

Simon

2

2

Ali

1

1

James

1

1

My Mum

1

1

Nic

1

1

Pete

1

1

© Inspire a Jen, 2

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