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Why tennis elbow was discovered by a husband

The last time I played tennis, if I’m remembering correctly, was the time something went “pop” in my calf. You could actually hear it pop. 


You see, someone (I think it was Sandra) had hit the ball barely over the net and I lunged forward at a great rate of speed (great for me). The only problem was that when I lunged forward, my entire body followed except that thing in my calf that went “pop.” It had decided, on its own, I guess, not to go. The last few years my body has had a mind of its own and not all parts have been first responders, if you know what I mean. 


I tell you this because we still miss playing — well, not “playing” like you see on TV. As a matter of fact, Sandra once got a black eye when a ball I had hit smacked her in the eye. She had gotten so used to the balls not going over the net she had dropped her guard.   


Sandra and I used to play tennis regularly. Tennis aficionados will tell you that there is more pressure and distraction at the US Open than anywhere else in tennis. Planes continually fly out of nearby La Guardia, the New York crowds are often rowdy and, of course, there are big bucks riding on the outcome of the match. 


But if anyone wants real pressure and distraction, he should have played his wife at Freedom Park in Liberty. I say, should have, because Liberty has scraped up its courts. During softball season. Just after Little League practice is over. Right after the skate boarders have been abandoned in the park by their parents for the day. Now those were some fun times.


So there are certain pressures in playing for a million dollars; the true pressure, however, lies in playing your spouse. 


Back in those days, I’d be washing dishes and Sandra would kindly remind me, for the 10th time, that she’d won the last match we’d played. Her memory, even back then, was a little shaky. 


Old people should not play tennis alone. Professional players have line judges and umpires and score keepers and ball boys and girls, and they’re young and still have most of their minds left. 


Our matches would go something like this:


“Match point,” she would announce. For you uninitiated, match point is the point that, if won, gives the player the match. In this case, that player was Sandra. 


“Match point?” I would scream. “We just started playing. I haven’t even served.” 


“Yes you did, remember? You hit the little boy on the skateboard.”


“I think the score is tied, four games all in the first set,” I would respond. 


“It can’t be tied,” Sandra would assert. “I’ve won every game.” 


This casual banter would go on awhile, then we would compromise and call it match point. 


Now this is pressure. When your wife is shutting you out and about to win the match, a few low flying planes from La Guardia would be welcome. 


You have to face this pressure like a man, which means faking an injury if you can get away with it. 


In this case, Sandra would bounce the ball a couple of times, look down and marvel at the herd of ants going across the court, then serve an ace that John Isner would be proud of to my backhand. At least where my backhand would have been if I had been John McEnroe. For you uninitiated, an ace is much like a Nolan Ryan fastball. 


“I couldn’t see the ball because of the light from the softball field,” I’d say. “And the Little Leaguers playing and running around behind me distracted me somewhat, too. Especially with this sprained ankle.”


None of this would matter, however, because being of a humble nature, I’d soon forget that I lost the match.  


Tennis is a game that was invented in England so that it would be near Wimbledon. Royalty started playing it to have something to entertain themselves between wars. A scoring system was invented so complex that the common people (and some persons over 50) could not comprehend it. This kept tennis the sport of kings. 


The first English king to play the sport was soundly beaten by the queen. This resulted in the invention of the guillotine.


Over the years, rules evolved that make tennis the interesting game it is today. For instance, it is against the rules, at least in North Carolina, to hit your spouse with your racket. You can’t even sling your racket at kids skateboarding between your legs while you’re trying to play. The only people who can sling rackets are professionals and they are paid to do this. 


Another rule is that you cannot touch or cross the net. Even if your opponent has slung her racket at you. You also have to hit the ball in the air or on first bounce. I usually do this at or near the “Made in Ecuador” label on the grip, giving the ball a distinctive spin as it flounders over the fence onto the softball field. Generally it is a rule that softball players will not return your ball. 


That’s about all you need to know to play tennis. That and if you happen to play your wife, pray for rain.