First off, this is NOT a post about balls. I swear. I’m a guy and when the opportunity to make a ball joke pops up, I have to roll with it. Ya know? So if it’s not about juevos, what is this post about? I’m glad you asked.
Wednesday was my 14-year-old Drama Queen’s first day at the tennis academy her high school coach runs and I stuck around to watch the practice. Suffice it to say that my daughter isn’t in any immediate danger of being voted MVP, but if she keeps putting forth the effort she generally showed Wednesday afternoon, she could have a legit claim to Most Improved.
Moments before practice began, the tennis coach was talking to a parent and said, “Once you see enough balls, you get used to them.” After snickering (apparently quite loud judging by the glances I received), I thought, “That sounds like what they tell new prostitutes or guys who have recently come out of the closet.” Of course the coach was referring to tennis balls being returned with more power than the player was used to and not dude junk. “J.R., is there a point anywhere in this?” You ask. Let me rewind 15 years so you get the full story.
My Queen was supposed to be a King. At least that’s what two ultrasounds said. Imagine our surprise when the doctor said, “It’s a girl.” I honestly didn’t care if I got a boy or girl as long as whatever it was came out healthy and happy. If it was a boy, he was to be named Nicholas Doc Reed. Why Doc? Well, it was my grandfather’s nickname, plus, I figured when the kid made it to the NHL that he would have a cool nickname.
Baby Mama wasn’t overly athletic (until at three months pregnant when she decided to be a hockey goalie after the birth) and I was a decent soccer player, middle distance runner and as an adult, ice hockey defenseman and left wing, so I was hoping she would get my coordination genes
As my daughter was growing up, I hoped we could do athletic stuff together, but it wasn’t in the cards. I wasn’t looking for a tomboy, but I was hoping she would play soccer or hockey or something that I could do with her.
When she was five, I coached her soccer team, which was kind of stressful actually. I’d coached very successful youth soccer teams over the years and even coached high school girls for a couple seasons, so coaching five and six year olds should be easy, right?
Wrong. To me coaching soccer means drawing up plays for corner kicks and direct kicks. My high school teams had some great talent both up and back, so we played an aggressive style that utilizes lots of passing, crossing and shifting. It’s kind of like a Triangle Offense for soccer and it doesn’t translate well to the pee-wee game. When you coach the little kids you just pray to God that they can kick the ball straight-ish and that they know its OK to pass to someone wearing the same uniform as them.
Any parents who has ever coached the munchkins knows it’s completely frustrating. It’s especially frustrating when the coach’s daughter spends the entire game hugging people (doesn’t mater which team), and picking at daffodils or whatever else was growing on the field. After a 6-4 season (if you think no one actually keeps score, you’re high) filled with much hugging, my daughter announced that she was retiring from soccer.
Next we tried ice hockey, which was OK, but the Queen didn’t put a ton of effort into it. After a year she asked if she could play in a park and rec softball league instead. It was six weeks and I have to say, this was by far the worst of the three sports attempted. I was getting frustrated and wanted to find something for her to do that involved exercise.
I’m not one of these parents who demands that their child excel at sports. Not at all. All I want is for her to find something she can be decent at, can enjoy and can get exercise with. When Drama Queen was eight she asked if she could take tennis lessons at the local park and I agreed. Tennis seemed to be the one thing she really enjoyed, but her lack of coordination frustrated her and led to a lack of effort.
When we lived in Buffalo she asked to start tennis again, but it’s so freaking expensive out there and I couldn’t afford it. If you want to play tennis in the fall or winter it has to be at an indoor tennis facility and those are crazy expensive. I’m not sure how much group lessons were, but considering the court rental was $30 an hour, I figured I didn’t need to know. I felt bad that I couldn’t let her keep playing, but there was no way I could justify spending that kind of money at the time.
When we moved back to California my daughter decided she wanted to play again and that she wanted to try out for her high school team. I was proud of her for wanting to do it, but was worried that she wouldn’t make the team and would get frustrated again. Luckily, her high school coach is great and hired a frosh-soph coach so they could keep everyone who tried out.
The bottom line is that as she’s grown, she’s also matured and now is committed to doing this and to being successful. Her goal for next fall is to make JV and to play regularly. I think that’s a realistic goal and her coaches do too. She still has her lazy moments, but so does any kid.
I’m happy because she’s now focusing more on what she eats and is cutting out a lot of the crap she used to enjoy. She’s doing the after school tennis academy three afternoons a week and has committed to start jogging the other two weekdays and Saturday. She’ll start with a mile and work her way up from there.
For some reason I think she’s going to see this through and commit to making JV and then Varsity. She’s at a good school with a well respected tennis program and has coaches that want to see her be successful. There’s not much more a parent can ask for.
To answer the question that is the title to the blog post, it depends on what type of ball. The obvious answer is three, but when it comes to tennis, the more balls the better.