When you reach the allotted 'threescore years and ten' and
find that tennis is still a big part of your life there are certain
adjustments that need to be made. Gone are those days when you could
play two three-set singles matches and still be up for mixed dubs. No
longer do you root out three die-hards and shovel snow off the high
school courts in mid-winter to hit a few.
Somehow re-stringings and new frames are fewer and further
between. Apres tennis these days you use more ice on your joints than
in your drinks and there's so much discussion about the latest
anti-inflammatory drug that you wish you had paid more attention in
However, the most dramatic adjustment to aging is learning
how to cope with the idiosyncrasies of those with whom you play.
Whether you call it attention-deficit, daydreaming, forgetfulness, or
incipient Altheimers it's a fact of life that must be dealt with.
Here are a few ground rules that might make the transition a
little less stressful:
- Before you start the search for that elusive third ball make
everyone empty their pockets.
- Announce the score loudly after every point.
- It's no longer a necessity to have new balls for every match; but
don't suddenly buy one
of those pressurized ball containers; they went out with racket
- Insist on changing sides on the odd games. That's the only way
you'll be able to reconstruct the set score when all players have
- Unless it's a new set check to be sure your opponents are playing
the same courts as the last time you served.
- When the score is in question express your opinion in a loud,
forceful voice. That will usually carry the day.
- If the set is close and your partner has the better serve let him or her
serve in your place; the opponents probably won't notice.
- Don't underestimate the guy with the bad shoulder who serves
underhand; those 'no-pace nothing' serves can be hard to return.
- Drop shot only when you really need the point.
- If your regular match is early in the morning (especially in the
winter) always schedule five players. That way you'll be more apt to
have a foursome.
- Try to have at least one doctor in the group, preferably an
orthopedist, so you'll have a second opinion to lean on if your doctor
tells you to quit playing after the second hip transplant.
- Develop a waiting list; you never know when one of your group
will have to take a sabbatical for a new knee.
- Have the top of your racket cushioned with tape so you can use
it as a cane when climbing those steps to the tennis house.
- Figure out the chemical balance between the amount of water you
drink to avoid dehydration and the related number of pee-call pit
- Don't let anyone suggest using those courtside metal
scorekeepers. It will only acerbate the problem because invariably
someone will neglect to flip it when changing courts.
- Don't try to play with bifocals; spend the money and get
- It not good etiquette to immediately shout 'yours' each time a
lob goes over your head.
- If you are fastidious don't hang your towel on the net; someone
is apt to absent-mindedly blow their nose in it.
- Under absolutely no circumstances allow some newcomer to suggest
using the California/Florida service order on sunny days. It will
create absolute chaos.
- If your mother is still alive have her sew name tags in your
garments. That will make it easier for the tennis house staff to put
the left on the court apparel in your lockers.