It was a thought — being a tennis player — that first came to me five years ago when I was months from my 55th birthday. It wasn’t that I imagined I was going to become an athlete. I am a tennis fan, and I turn on ESPN and attend the United States Open each year with the understanding that the men and women I love to watch are, as they were not when I was a boy, a breed apart: selection for size and intense training and competition from early childhood is increasingly creating a sort of warrior class in sports. I wanted to become a very good recreational player. Someday.
A tennis court is the venue where the sport of tennis is played. It is a firm rectangular surface with a low net stretched across the center. The same surface can be used to play both doubles and singles matches. A variety of surfaces can be used to create a tennis court, each with its own characteristics which affect the playing style of the game.
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Wilson Jack Kramer Autograph Midsize Wood Racquet 4 1/2. Vintage graphite/wood mix frame. The frame and head are absolutely straight. It was strung briefly before. There is a very slight scuff on the head (see photo) which may have come from years of storage/handling or someone swinging the racquet, but that’s it. The grip and the rest of the racquet show the like-new condition of this collectable racquet.
I spent a year having lessons with one pro, then another. It wasn’t working out. I realized I wanted not just instruction but a relationship — someone I was not only going to learn from but also talk with, or talk at, anyway, about all this stuff that might have been about tennis but was probably about a lot of other things. I was about to give up.
I have sought many cures for this. I have repeatedly watched a YouTube video of Roger Federer, in slow motion, ripping a one-hand topspin backhand and not lifting his head for a full beat after the ball has left the picture frame — it’s as if he is studying the contrails of a missile he has just launched. Early one morning last year at Wimbledon, I stood in the cool damp and watched Federer up close during a workout, doing much the same thing, repeatedly, as if he had no interest in whether a ball he struck cleared the net or landed in (which it mostly did, and did). It was — there is no other way to describe it — beautiful, in that unobtainable way.
The first year with Kirill was brutal. The prescribed continental grip felt awkward when I first began to serve. I thought I was turning my shoulder, properly, to prepare to hit a backhand, but wasn’t. I thought I was, properly, following through on my forehand, and wasn’t. It was the strangest thing. I had no sense at times of what my body was doing. And that, to some extent — a frustrating and at times embarrassing extent — continues. And it continues despite the incessant midplay appeals from Kirill to correct this, correct that. One of the things about having a coach is that no one has watched how I move more intently since I was a toddler.
Tennis is an Olympic sport and is played at all levels of society and at all ages. The sport can be played by anyone who can hold a racket, including wheelchair users. The modern game of tennis originated in Birmingham, England, in the late 19th century as lawn tennis. It had close connections both to various field (lawn) games such as croquet and bowls as well as to the older racket sport today called real tennis. During most of the 19th century, in fact, the term tennis referred to real tennis, not lawn tennis.