One of My Last Great Tennis Wins (Part 2)
Who is Afraid of Captain Hook?!
A Cheating Problem
I actually approached the tournament desk, unbeknownst to my stranded, courtside opponent, and requested a linesman. I subtly told the referee, “Hello, Sir. We are having a cheating problem.” This was a clever way to infer that I was not responsible for the “problem” we were dealing with and that I felt obliged to bring to his attention for a swift resolution.
The linesman stood on the sideline. I served and Banjo somewhat predictably called the ball out. I looked at the linesman, as my particular serve was smacked rather hard and appeared to be well within the box from my vantage point. The linesman faltered with more than a little intrepidation, “That looked like... it may...have been good?” Without giving Banjo an opportunity to immediately contest the linesman’s tenuous verdict, I shouted out at the top of my lungs, “Serves you right for cheating, you f-ing hook!”
Now, perhaps I should not have gotten upset and so insulting. Then, again, Banjo was stealing points for himself that I had hard-won fair and square. I was not merely angry at his lawless tactics. Within the outer parameters of sportsmanship-like conduct, I tried to reclaim what had been snatched away from me by throwing him off-guard. I hoped to dent his arsenal by instilling fear within the initial, denting thief. Maybe paybacks are, indeed, f-d. But his denting was lawless while mine was within the confines of the fluffy, furry rally contest.
Cheating in tennis, like cheating in life, is part of human nature. Humans are wired to do whatever it takes not only to survive, but win. When winning is at the expense of others losing, a morality question presents itself. Is anyone really more important than anyone else? Under G-d’s eyes, the answer is absolutely not. Under our own eyes, we too often beg to differ.
Should There be a Limit to Society's Grab Bag?
Some people and paradigms, including those in favor of the competitive free marketplace, might point out that life is a live-and-let-live, flourish-or-become extinguished, free-for-all extravaganza. Should there be any rules for the free market enterprise, even though I am in favor of it because of the carrot incentive that leads to momentous, if unequal progress? To what extent should lucky windfalls and bargaining chips be absolute tickets for barbarious court squatters to obtain cornerstones of the whole Cahuna? Should there be any societal safeguards (or referees) to ensure egalitarianism in the mad grab for pie slabs...?
One must pick and choose his or her battles in life. Most of us do not earn money for winning the fuzzy, tennis ball placement contest. A worthy challenge does spark our hubris, however inconsequential beyond the duration of the match. It encourages us to speak out when ordinarily we might swallow the expressive emptiness.
At the time, I psychologically felt good that I was calling Banjo out on this injustice, even though I was not at the top of my game. This bolstered my resolve. I would not be afraid to speak out against Captain Hook, himself, on his intentionally misplaced, little finger line call!
Civilization has witnessed that there are no rules in war, but tennis is supposed to be a gentile sport with built-in regulations to protect the integrity of the competition. Tennis seems to say, “Dominate until your opponent is completely eliminated. But do so fairly!” Part of the beauty of this slightly fictitious battlefield is that the contestants are justifiably restrained by third party authorities: Believe it or not, sports do not usually bare the serious ramifications of war and violence. Even sports like tennis where an individual can stockpile all of the glory and also smother him or herself with the entire blame...
My Cockiness Intact
Just a couple years before I had twice the game Banjo now possessed, even though now I was a bit short. I knew that he could never reach my game’s heights in his wildest dreams. What were we even doing out there, running around like crazy, when there was nothing more to prove than had been proven years before? Even years past, what did the trite statistics truly mean regarding mental fortitude and athletic grace under pressure? Therefore, this afterglow match meant absolutely jack (or Jacque!). However it tipped, it was irrelevant--meaningless, zilch. He was not capable of breaching his own futility.
Still, I realized that he could now outblast my “hacker” self from the baseline. The insurgent was determined to usurp everyone and each projectile in his path. There was no mound his revved up tractor could not surmount. I had to drastically act in order to alter my inevitable demise.
I suddenly recalled how I had beaten Banjo a year or so before by sealing the final point with an impressive serve and volley combo that my Uncle had witnessed from behind the catch tarp.
I decided to change strategy with one sneaker in the grave. His baseline game was now superior to mine. But my throw-together, “sort-of-serve, sneak, and tap” makeshift, merry mix threw him out of “whack.” My serves were not spectacular at the time, but they boasted decent placement. They put enough pressure on his better, but imperfect groundstrokes. At the net, I was all over the finite excellence of his good returns. I timidly blocked them into the vast, open court, far away from his racquet’s stabbings. I held serve every time the last two sets (sometimes barely) and even broke him once or so a set. I serve and volleyed the second and final sets, compressing him 6-3, 6-3.
One set away from defeat, I turned the accompanying tide by letting loose the wrath of the net upon him with my wussy taps into open splotches! Because I took a chance and diversified my arsenal, I snatched a surprise win from a better player. I neutralized his far from paltry groundstrokes by dishing out limp spaghetti. Specifically because of my “change-up” risk I exercised when Banjo’s balls were migrating south for cement-paving winter, I notched my third consecutive 5.5 “A” ranking in Northern California.
Life Lessons Learned From My Approach
We have all heard the sports mindset cliché, “Gambits sometimes pay off. Other times, they do not.” As in the competitive, free marketplace and broader reality: To the Victor, goes the Spoils! Elements of chance are difficult to calculate, but they generally follow the world’s law of probabilities. Not taking chances in life is like a legitimate Plaintiff not showing up at Court.
A Surprise Reconcilliation
Incidentally, a few years later I had the pleasure of bumping into Banjo at a 100,000 person block party in San Francisco. Away from the pressurized clutches of metallic tournament booty, he was extremely personable, friendly, and humble-- a regular, good guy. The prospect of loot had not irrevocably awoken his tennis barbarian within.
For More Funny, Philosophical, and Athletic Anecdotes
For many more enlightening, lively, and funny anecdotes about my adventures on the cusp between amateur and professional tennis competition as well as how these anecdotes fit into life’s macro picture, please read my three books by Author Jacque D’Artichoke, J.D., my nombe de plume. The books illuminate how my spin on persona theory and the competitive sports mindset tackle adversity internally, regardless of external thwarts or realities. My autobiographical novel is The Ascent of a Barbarious Court Squatter. My book with over 80 personal essays with a humorous, athletic, and philosophical bent is Sporty Reflections of a Court Recidivist http://www.amazon.com/The-Ascent-Barbarious-Court-Squatter/dp/146370898X. Thank you. http://www.amazon.com/Sporty-Reflections-Recidivist-Jacqu%C3%A9-DArtichoke/dp/1463717814