There is a famous saying that women of a certain age discover either God or gardening. I would like to add a third discovery, every bit as all-encompassing and obsessive: Tennis.
I have loved tennis since I was a child. I was never much good at it, the only training I got was hitting a ball against a wall in a cow-shed, but I watched Wimbledon every year and was mad about Borg, followed by Agassi and Edberg.
Then when we moved here I rediscovered the game. But not in a sort of casual ‘oh I might play when I get the chance’ kind of a way, but an ‘ a day without tennis is like a day without bread’ kind of way, whereby I have panic attacks if I don’t have tennis planned on any given day. Four times a week is a bare minimum.
I am not alone. Which is lucky or I would have to find a cowshed to hit a ball in, and there are not many of those around here.
Happily for me there are plenty of other women who have been hit by the tennis bug and who are willing to play as often as possible. We discuss racquets, top-spin, the mental game and other essential topics.
I have been trying to work out what it is about tennis that makes it so compulsive. It is tough to define, but I think in part it is the mental aspect of the game. It is incredible how much difference it makes to the result if you are focused. As Boris Becker said: “Tennis is a psychological sport. You have to keep a clear head. That’s why I stopped playing.”
Maybe that’s why women of a certain age, with so much going on in their heads, take it up. To experience the sensation of thinking of nothing else but hitting a perfect cross-court backhand.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2012