Felt every one of my 59 years and 360-odd days when I woke up this morning. After 10 tennis coaching sessions I finally played my first competitive last night for over four months.
That meant the resumption of the serving action, something I’ve not done since the lockdown as it was forbidden because it involves touching the coach’s balls!
Yesterday I had my usual Monday morning coaching session where I was drilled in my new, improved groundstrokes in a bid to embed them ahead of my first proper match.
It was a doubles match in a newly created league and one of those I was playing against is someone I feel I can beat though I bet he thinks that too.
I’ve played doubles with my younger partner for a few years on and off. bHe’s got a stronger serve and a harder forehand than me which means he can hit more straight winners but also makes lots of errors.
When playing with him I’ve settled into a ‘Steady Eddie’ role, I keep the rallies going until him or my opponents make an error which is an approach that doesn’t fit particularly well with my new game.
At first I tried to stay focused on what I’d been taught –prepare early, elbows up etc – but quickly realised that in a real game situation my new strokes weren’t as reliable as my old ones. After relatively short rallies my backhand would fly long and forehands smack low into the net.
At 4-1 down in a first to nine games match, I let nearly £200 worth of coaching go down the drain and reverted back to my old game.
When I really, really try hard it kind of works and slowly we hauled ourselves back into the match recovering to 8-8.
I quite like tie-breaks, think I win more than my fair share and we were briefly in the lead then there was a succession of errors by my partner – it’s always the other person’s fault! – and a good serve on match point by them which meant we lost the breaker 7-5.
Despite the defeat it felt good – mentally – to do something competitive taking my mind off other things in a rather more complete way than running for example.
It didn’t feel good – physically – when I woke up this morning with every part of my body hurting particularly my arms, neck and shoulders.
To make things worse I wear contact lenses when I play tennis and their use, combined with my hayfever, meant I could hardly open my eyes this morning.
If this is what being 60 feels like, it’s not great frankly. I’ve been putting off ringing the doctors about my aches and pains firstly because of the virus and more latterly because my symptoms come and go. Time to bite the bullet and see what they can do for me.