Tennis is difficult

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 8, 2006

Tennis is not as easy as it looks.

I have watched tennis on television and thought that really all you needed was a cute tennis outfit and the ability to grunt when you hit the ball. I was wrong.

Taking advantage of Chowan University’s generosity in opening their courts for public use, I joined some friends Sunday for an afternoon of tennis. Mind you, this is the second time I have picked up a racket.

First, you must learn to score. Apparently, whoever invented the scorekeeping system in tennis did not know how to add. Your score goes from love (zero) to 15, 30, 40 and game.

Then there is the difference in game, set and match. It counts as one game when someone scores after they have 40. When someone has won six games you have a set.

You must win three sets to win the match. At least I think that is right. Remember, I’ve had one lesson.

Next comes the serve. I thought as long as you could serve the ball over the net you were in business. I should have known it wasn’t that simple. You must serve to a tiny box diagonal from you on the other side of the net.

Of course, it’s not really that tiny, but when you are learning to serve it seems that way.

Unfortunately, you only get two chances to get your serve in the right spot otherwise the other team gets 10 or 15 points.

The one good spot is that I can return the ball. The bad news is that my return sometimes crosses the net two courts down. So I feel it is my civic duty to warn anyone playing on a court near me: I am not liable for any balls that may end up on your court or any harm caused by them.

I will be easy to spot because I am in the beginning tennis outfit; a T-shirt and shorts.

When I advance to the stage that I actually know what I am doing, the car doors will open, music will play and I will appear in a real tennis outfit.

The trouble with &uot;real&uot; tennis outfits is they don’t have pockets. Coupled with this is that you must have two balls in your pocket at all times. This begs the obvious question; if you don’t have pockets where do you keep the balls?

I’m sure many grants have been written and scientists have studied this age-old question for years. The answer is quite simple, but not especially obvious.

Real tennis players keep their balls in their pants. You see, there are special pants that go under tennis skirts which hold the ball between the pants and your leg. Only real tennis players are qualified to wear these.

Despite my limitations on the court, I actually enjoyed the game. It’s good exercise since I do a lot of running chasing balls.

I do think I improved by the end of the afternoon so maybe there’s hope yet.

Until then, keep an eye out for me. I’ll be the one chasing balls on other people’s courts.

Heather Odom can be reached at