Andrew Ayers - May 2020

MAY 2020


Another Kind of Court The Trouble With the Overhead Smash

In the 35 years I’ve played tennis, I’d never hit anyone with an overhead smash. This is pretty impressive because a lot of players lack control when they bring the racket overhead to hit the ball. At least, it used to be impressive. Then my friend jinxed me. We were talking before a game, and she was shocked to hear that I’d never hit anyone with an overhead smash. She didn’t even believe me at first. Of course, in that match, her partner popped the ball up and I hit her in the foot with an overhead smash. It was just her foot, so she was fine, but she’s never let me forget it. Before every game we play now, she asks if I’m going to hit her with an overhead smash. I haven’t done it a second time, but my perfect record is still gone forever. Tennis has been a big part of my life. Back in the ‘80s, my summers were filled with tennis, tennis, and more tennis. My mom would drop me and my younger brother off and we played tennis all morning, ate lunch, then spent the afternoon in the pool until Mom came to pick us up. There were times when my brother and I begged to do something else, but our parents insisted that tennis was a “life sport.”Turns out, they were right. Thirty years later, I’m still playing tennis several times a week. I haven’t been playing for 30 years straight, of course. I was captain of the tennis team in high school, but I didn’t play much in college. Then in law school, I played even less. It was really hard to get court time in New York City. There was a local club with two courts on the roof that we used from time to time, but it wasn’t consistently available. After finishing law school, I was suddenly busy being a new lawyer. I wouldn’t have had time to play even if I had my own private court!

If you’ve ever thought about playing tennis, I highly recommend it, though I know it can seem intimidating from the outside. If you want to get into the sport, there are plenty of opportunities to get started. Check for clubs or rec leagues in your area that offer lessons. To be honest, all you really need is a court, a racket, and a tube of balls, and you can play as long as you want. I have some friends who just play together at their gym. They aren’t interested in competing on teams; they just want to have fun together. Tennis is the kind of game that’s easy to get into and a lot of fun to play. If you can, I suggest giving it a try this summer. You might have a lot of fun. Just be careful with that overhead smash.

Tennis didn’t become a big part of my life again until my family moved to the suburbs in New Jersey. Once we settled in, I discovered that the town had a strong adult rec program that included a tennis league. They even had free lessons on Sunday afternoons for people who wanted to try it out. I signed up for the lessons, and I’m glad I did. I was terrible at first! It had been years since I’d played, and my shots were all over the place (it got so bad that I was actually serving underhanded). But with time, I got that muscle memory back. You won’t see me at Wimbledon, but I can hold my own in a game. These days, tennis is one of my most reliable strategies for stress relief. I like that it takes my whole focus. It doesn’t matter how difficult my day was, when I’m on the tennis court, nothing exists outside the lines on the court. I can focus on the game and get a good workout while playing. Afterward, life seems a bit lighter. | 1 –Andrew M. Ayers

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