I take one hopeful half step into the Tennis Club when I hear Susie, my team captain, talking crazy. It’s Monday morning, and I’m looking forward to working on my tennis game – and sweating out that extra slice of pizza I had with the kids last night.
Coach yells, “Caroline, you're on court three with Natalie for tomorrow’s match against Hollow Creek!” I think to myself: I shouldn’t have been so hopeful. One deep breath later, I calmly remind Coach that I was supposed to play one position ahead of Court 3, on Court 2, since I had really upped my game as of late.
He curtly explained that my team captain had made the curious decision to keep me down on court 3 instead of moving me up. I say to myself, “That can’t be personal—right? Right?” Outdoor tennis is preferable to indoor, as the other ladies can’t see me roll my eyes at them behind my sunglasses and visor.
I’m Caroline, and I play for the ladies doubles tennis team at Rolling Meadows Country Club. There are ten ladies divided into doubles teams, and each team plays on a court numbered one through five. Those who are either proficient enough at tennis, or willing to fight dirty for it, are also known as the queens of Court 1. Those who play on Court 5 have either pissed off the wrong person or need to work on their game—a lot. We compete with teams from the other country clubs in the area. Sounds simple, right? Some friendly competition and a nice workout; it can be a lovely time. But when you factor in egos, dysfunctional marriages and children, Botox, various cocktails, both pharmaceutical and alcoholic, things can get equal parts hilarious and infuriating.
The team is made up of ladies ranging in age from mid 30’s to mid 60’s, and the buy-in is $2,000. When I joined on a whim four years ago, the dynamic of the team certainly surprised me. I had been taking regular tennis lessons when my instructor asked me if I wanted to join the team. I had two little kids at the time and was starting to feel the first effects of being confined to the house. I thought it would be a good way to get some exercise and recoup some of my sanity after a few years gainfully employed as my children’s full-time butler.
Fast-forward four years, and I am in DEEP. There’s been plenty of competition, but I’m still waiting for the friendly part to fully kick in. Take today’s situation—being moved down a court when I know I deserve to play on Court 2. I know it sounds frivolous, but when looked at from the perspective of the person being moved down I hope you can empathize with my plight. I worked my ass off to win game after game, carrying a partner who hasn't been in peak physical condition since the Berlin Wall came down. When I first started, I wasn’t as competitive, but now I play to win.
After hustling in practice after practice, I'm demoted for no other reason than one of my so-called teammates whined to the coach so much about what court I was on that he finally gave in to moving her up and me down. Then, Coach is afraid to deliver the news himself, so he tells the captain to do it. The captain then weighed the pros and cons of moving me down against my close friends on the team—who, by the way,would come to my defense if called. The captain probably called the coach to ask for advice and, like any smart leader, he told her to figure it out herself. He doesn’t want to be responsible in case the incident becomes a bigger issue, which often it does.
So to sum things up....Natalie wins! Her whining about my backhand gets me demoted. And did I forget to mention that I pay to be a part of this team?
“Fine”, I reply dejectedly as I shuffle off to my lower court. I was no longer having a good day. I wouldn't want to be dishonest and give you the impression that I am any saner than any of these women. Quite the contrary, actually. The mantra that I keep repeating over and over in my head as I go through the motions of practice is: “I'll get those b*****s back.”
Stay tuned for the next story from The Tennis Moms' Tales...
The Tennis Moms
‘The Tennis Moms’ are four stay-at-home moms who have adopted tennis as their day job. While the kids are at school, it is all tennis, all the time. Their experiences playing team tennis were so humorous that they had to share their tales.