You all know the sayings.. “That turkey just cut me off!” or.. “Someone tell that turkey what’s going on because he seems completely lost!” Anyway, on this Thanksgiving holiday, I just want to share a few sentiments about the game and what I’m thankful for.
As my elderly weekend warrior father and I cruised over to our local tennis club here in Irvine, swaggering to the baseline like a couple of over-stuffed turkeys, the sun was just setting over a crystal clear lake here in Irvine. As the night darkened and the heavy meal making us slower than usual, we went out for another holiday hit under the lights.
Ever since I was a little kid, my dad has hit balls with me. Up until the age of 13 or so, he was my only hitting partner for a time when I first moved to California from Hawaii. I mean, the amount of time and energy he’s spent on me is incredible, while also maintaining a full-time work schedule.
Anyway, because he’s getting older, I decided my racket of choice tonight would be a classic Jack Kramer. Personally I like the racket because of its feel and larger grip, volleys with this stick still feel better than any racket I’ve picked up in the past twenty years. So while I was bunting and slicing balls as big as yams for my father to strike back and hopefully enjoy hitting, I’m thinking to myself, “Wow, here we are again, together, on a court with beautiful lights, a nice view, on a beautiful evening.” As I’m consciously trying to give him balls that he can strike (his hitting zone is pretty small due to no tennis training whatsoever), I’m beginning to enjoy myself more and more.
I remember growing up in Santa Monica, I used to watch tennis videos religiously every night. Old matches featuring the game’s legends, studying their strokes or wondering one day if I’d be able to play with them someday. Things got pretty fun when I tried to mimic some old school strokes. Tonight, it was John McEnroe, his flatter strokes and swing-plane are timeless and I have a bunch of recent images of him from this past weekend when I warmed him up for a match in Las Vegas. My dad and I just had to laugh at the results and then he shared some of his own tennis memories with me during changeovers. I really enjoyed that part, it brought me back to being a kid at Westwood Sporting Goods and peeking up over the counter at my gods up on the walls in their signed picture frames.
I’m thankful that I can still get out on the court with my dad and remember our more tender moments. Tennis is a game where new school meets old school everyday, experience is everything, and time holds no power. This Thanksgiving, all this became more evident to me during my hitting session with my dad. hope wherever you are that you can find this kind of fun with your loved ones and enjoy the memories too.