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Apodaca: Tennis is my ticket to sanity

September 28, 2013|By Patrice Apodaca

Fall means football for most folks. But for me and many of my friends, autumn also marks the annual kickoff of another one of my favorite pastimes: league tennis.

Here in Newport-Mesa, tennis is serious business.

Blessed as we are with a climate that allows outdoor play year-round, and immersed in a culture that worships fitness and competition, it is almost obligatory to have a passing knowledge of the game. No one bats an eye at fellow shoppers or diners who haven't bothered to change out of their tennis clothes. Parents, dreaming of their kids' success in tournament play, make heavy investments in lessons and gear. Tennis is no doubt a significant contributor to the local economy.

And no one works harder at keeping the tennis economy kicking than the hordes of hopelessly mediocre but unfailingly enthusiastic women of a certain age that take over the courts most weekdays while the kids are still in school and office workers are chained to their desks.

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That's the kind of tennis player I am.

I took up tennis several years ago, just after I'd left my full-time reporting job and had begun working through my list of things I'd always wanted to do but previously hadn't found time for. I joined a local club and signed up for lessons.

As I walked on the court that first day, I quickly realized my first mistake. I was wearing a hideous oversized T-shirt and plaid shorts with a tacky high elastic waist. So unfashionably frumpy was I that I hardly remember anything the patient pro tried to teach me.

By my second lesson, I had invested in a stylish skirt-and-top ensemble. Although I'm well aware the reality was far different, my pert outfit made me feel like I could bounce featherlight around the court, zinging backhands down the line and powering overheads beyond opponents' reaches.

I was hooked. How could I not love a sport with such fashion sense?

More lessons and friendly matches followed until one day I was asked to join a team. Several years on, I'm still with the same team; some members have come and gone, but the essential core remains. This month we began yet another season playing in a doubles league with one of the lowest rankings possible for league competition.

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