Just Do It Backwards

Just Do It Backwards

2012… “Game.”

I bend my knees, arch my back, twist, a slingshot pulled back; for one frozen moment, I’m still as the tennis ball rises in the air. The spring uncoils: reaching high, I connect with the ball and send it hurtling to the corner of the service box. My opponent gets a piece of her racquet on it, but sends it into the net.

Admittedly, it’s only in my imagination that my serve is a perfect explosion of grace, but my imagination also takes me back through the years….

2006… “Huh?”

When we get the news that our new house’s backyard cannot fit a pool, my husband and I think of the small pool club right down the street. “And,” my husband says, “I can teach you to play tennis.”

I don’t believe he can, but I hold the racket as he bounces a ball toward me. I swing and miss. Over and over and over. I am sure I never will be able to play in the round robins and other events the club organizes. My husband is patient and feeds me the ball. That first summer, I sign up for beginner lessons. I meet women in town and start to socialize with them. Even more than my physical lack of coordination, I have to overcome my belief that I am utterly unable to play tennis, a belief I have been sure of since high school. But slowly, as the summer moves on, I begin to believe.

1982… “Damn.”

The telephone rings in my high school study hall, and the sleepy class makes a few snide comments about my fate as I am called down to the vice principal’s office for a punishment. There is surprise all around. I am a goody two-shoes, painfully shy, and never get in trouble.

My offense? I decide to dart down a path that leads to Dairy Queen with another girl rather than go out to the tennis courts to face a new afternoon of humiliation. I feel entitled to since as a left-hander the gym teacher never bothers to show me how to do anything. When she tells me, “Just do it backwards,” I want to yell at her that I am uncoordinated, that just doing it backwards is not instruction. I am shy and insecure and say nothing. An hour on a tennis court is an hour in a pit of shame. Awkward, alone, angry, disgusted. Tennis is the worst sport in the world.

Back to 2012…

With spring here, I rejoice. I watch myself in my mind’s eye in amazement that I am out there, competing, breaking a sweat, having fun, playing tennis. To quote the US Open, “It must be love.”

Related posts: Cardio Tennis | Going to the US Open

   Scene from a memoir Tuk Tuk Hell, or Heaven This is part of a series, Scene from a Memoir.

About Marcy

I blog about trying to get out of my comfort zone, completing 101 things in 1001 days (and beyond), and writing my memoirs. My book: Timid No More.
This entry was posted in Fitness, Scene from a Memoir and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to Just Do It Backwards

  1. Love it! I played tennis in high school and my most recent WIP is a YA romance and the MC is a tennis player. 🙂
    Kelly Hashway recently posted..4-Book Deal!!!!My Profile

  2. Carol Apple says:

    Marci , I love your story – it’s honest, funny, and very relate-able. I have only tried tennis a few times and without lessons, so although I did have a few laughs, I never made much progress. However, I could tell a very similar story about my love/hate relationship with dance. The short version is that I was never very good at it but the lessons and practice have made a huge difference in my body control and self image.
    Carol Apple recently posted..The Abolition of Man by CS Lewis: Little book/Giant implications for human raceMy Profile

  3. Pingback: I never could dance but did it anyway…. | Carol's Notes

  4. Rahmath says:

    Do it backwards??????? How can anybody do it backwards? I used to feel the same way about a language class in school. It was not my native language, I knew nothing about it and I literally hated that class because it was everyone else’s native language and they expected me to know it well.
    I really want to link. I have three related incidents but nothing related to sport. Hope that’s ok.

  5. gin says:

    What a neat post! I just finished writing a memoir this morning and am in the process of finding the picture that goes along with it…when I do, I am SO linking up.
    gin recently posted..The Definition of OrgasmMy Profile

  6. I love the way that you’ve written this post. It shows so much of your story compared to just a linear story line. It’s pretty amazing when you come around to something that you’ve previously dreaded. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with tennis my whole life. Haven’t played in years! Visiting over from SITS.
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..Almost What Not to WearMy Profile

  7. Aww, LOVE the flashback storytelling and I don’t usually. Really works in this case. So glad you have now found a hobby that you love and put those old demons to bed. Glad to have found you at Write on Edge.
    Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms recently posted..“No” is a Brussels SproutMy Profile

  8. Such a cute idea! I’ll try to think of something so I can link up.

    Visiting via SITS Sharefest 🙂
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  9. Erin @Momfog says:

    I love the flashbacks. I especially like the way you used tennis to mark important times in your life and to show how you matured.

    “Do it backwards” is terrible advice. Sheesh. Nice coaching.

  10. Thank you so much for sharing, you have inspired me and gladdened my heart. There may be hope for me! 🙂
    idiosyncratic eye recently posted..Trifecta: ThunderMy Profile

  11. Tracy says:

    I’m glad you’re playing now–lefties are tough! Just ask Roger about Rafa! I’m left handed too and being told to do things backwards is totally not helpful. I still can’t tie my shoes the normal way.
    Tracy recently posted..PiercingMy Profile

    • Marcy says:

      I wonder how much of my general klutziness might be related to it, but it can be an advantage too. It really freaks some right-handers out. Love Rafa!

  12. Mihee says:

    { I decide to dart down a path that leads to Dairy Queen with another girl rather than go out to the tennis courts to face a new afternoon of humiliation. I feel entitled to since as a left-hander the gym teacher never bothers to show me how to do anything. When she tells me, “Just do it backwards,” I want to yell at her that I am uncoordinated, that just doing it backwards is not instruction. }

    What a great writing prompt. And compelling images/stories! Love these flashbacks.

  13. I love how you told this story! It was so encouraging, and it kept me guessing. It’s lovely that you now enjoy something you loathed so much!

    I have shared my post Feeling the Fear and Doing It Anyway, the story of how I conquered (okay, almost conquered) my fear of birds. Thank you for hosting!
    April @ The 21st Century Housewife recently posted..Cook for the QueenMy Profile

  14. David says:

    I am always up for a good tennis story, and I liked yours because it had such a creative format. What kept going through my mind is that it takes years become a solid player, and I see years later you are having fun winning a match. Made me smile. Thanks for sharing your memories with us. David
    David recently posted..Exercises for Tennis Elbow Prevention & RehabilitationMy Profile

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  17. Vanessa D. says:

    Your post reminded me of taking Ju-jitsu in my 30’s – after a lifetime of believing I was terrible at all sports. Originally it was meant to be a family activity with my boys, but that feeling of control over my body and accomplishment kept me going long after they lost interest.
    Vanessa D. recently posted..Evicting the Monster in my ComputerMy Profile

    • Marcy says:

      The same thing happened with me and Tae Kwon Do–both my boys eventually dropped out, but I stuck with it. Thanks for the comment, Vanessa.

  18. What a great post – it almost makes me want to reconsider taking up some kind of sport (I have always been awful at ALL sports) but then I think, “Nah – I’m having enough trouble just keeping up with walking!” However – you are inspiring! And fun to read.
    Splendid Empress recently posted..Surviving a Stroke at 33 (and Blogging About It)My Profile

  19. I’m so glad you re-posted this on the grid! Loved the timeline and the imagery.
    That Unique* Weblog recently posted..Living Like Luna LovegoodMy Profile

  20. Andrea says:

    So I am a lefty too, so I totally get the part about the gym teacher telling you to just “do it backwards”. Sometimes I want to scream at people like IT’S NOT THAT EASY FOLKS!!! Have you ever tried to learn to knit? Nightmare. Loved this piece, it was fun! Now I am off to get back to my game of wii tennis with my 5 year old 🙂
    Andrea recently posted..There’s Always More Work To Be DoneMy Profile

  21. Soapie says:

    Ooh…. Love how you wrote this, how you gradually flashback… Love the details in how you serve the ball in the first paragraph all the way down to the end where you hate tennis. Well written!
    Soapie recently posted..Tasting AutumnMy Profile

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