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from a really average woman who lost 100 lbs.
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Sunday, October 26, 2003  

Tennis Anyone?
The boys in my family and their game

Going to gather with the troops today to celebrate my pop's 79th birthday. My husband will limp to my folks' place, suffering the Achilles tendon strain he's picked up. He's icing, elevating, applying pressure, stretching. But he won't rest, so his tendons aren't healing.

He's strained his ankles by jogging and by playing tennis every week. He plays tennis with my dad.

My husband, pushing 60, is a white-bearded, bespectacled former basketball player. A big-shouldered red-head, an introverted comic, and an English professor. He pits himself each week against my pop, pushing 80, a retired U.S. Navy captain, strategic, calm, clean-shaven, angular, skinny, with arms that go from here to way over there. A reach, and a strong one.

These two guys, 20 years apart, despite the cooling weather, the falling leaves, get out there once a week, grab some fresh air, loosen their joints, play a game, and one of them strains his tendons. But not the one you'd think.

They play a modest game, an even game. Neither of them have any business diving into the court to make a return. They just need to move, and prefer to do that in a way that doesn't bore them to death.

They find jogging and walking dull. Swimming deadly. They need a score, a ball to watch. Golf takes too long and costs too much. Basketball takes too many people, racquetball might work, but it can be a little full-contact for fathers and sons-in-law. Maybe not a good idea.

Nope, this little game is the game. They look great in their sweats, but their gear would draw some attention from the estimators on Antiques Road Show. They each have a little trouble remembering the score. The game ends in a large lunch.

And week after week they get to watch the seasons pass, the students around the college courts come and go. They get to kid one another about just who is going too easy on whom. I don't think either of them knows for sure, but I do know one of them has strained tendons. And the other one doesn't.

I don't think I could talk either of them into yoga class. Neither would consider a workout video or Pilates. There isn't any belly dancing in their future (although I'm quite sure my dad has hidden talents in this area). Tennis is what they do.

Got a birthday coming up? Why don't you celebrate it by finding out what you need to do to shake your body out? What's the right thing for you? Even if it doesn't exactly motivate you, how can you get your body moving in a way that at least doesn't annoy you too much? What can get you up and out, into the world, and moving on your own or with somebody you like?

It might be tennis. Indoor courts seem to spring up overnight these days, making it a year-round sport in less rural areas. Places that offer indoor courts generally offer lessons too. You can find tennis clubs that range from laid back to laced pretty tightly where traditions of dress and membership etiquette are concerned. Ask pointed questions about whether the club is friendly to adult beginners. The one that is is the one you want. Find a place that suits your style. Or start in the U.S. with one of the United States Tennis Associations' workshops for beginners, offered all over the country (

Here's hoping you'll be celebrating your 79th one day, wearing a sweat suit and actually sweating in it. But watch those tendons.

Tennis terms, but I still don't get this game
The U.S. Tennis Association's Beginners' Workshops

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posted by Julie |
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