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Confidence or Delusion? Yes, Please

11 Jul


I played tennis when I was a kid. I absolutely loved it. My coaches were the daughters of a friend of my Mom’s and they were so cool and patient and they took me out for ice cream every now and then as a reward for waking up so early on a Saturday morning for my lessons. My coaches were always telling me that I was a natural and that I should play in tournaments. I really thought I was hot shit until Mark Tija knocked the confidence right out of me.

Mark was a friend of mine from elementary school. He was the cute, nice kid that everybody liked. Mark challenged me to a friendly game of tennis one weekend and I gladly obliged while secretly hoping that I wouldn’t beat him too badly. I was after all,  a natural.  When the day of the big match arrived, I put on my cutest tennis skirt and shirt, laced up my shoes, grabbed my racket and dragged my Dad out of bed to drive me to the courts. Mark was there hitting a few balls with his brother while he waited. It was at that moment I knew I was in big trouble. Mark had mastered the forehand and the backhand swing that had given me so much trouble. I blamed my difficulty with the backhand swing on my already massive breasts, but that’s another story. I kept my cool and walked over to say hello to Mark and see if he was ready to play. I unzipped my racket cover and took my position on the court. Mark served to me, a ball that I immediately missed. I had never seen a ball fly so quickly over the net! My coaches had lied to me! I sucked! I missed practically every ball that Mark served and when it was my turn to serve, I sent the balls limply into the air and they struggled to even make it over the net. By the end of the game, I was covered in sweat and the darling headband that I had so gingerly placed to keep my big bushy head of hair out of my eyes was totally ineffective. In contrast, Mark was still all tucked in and his white shorts and shirt still had creases in them. I was totally humiliated and Mark never asked me to play another game of tennis with him. I continued to take lessons until we moved and only stopped then because we couldn’t find a coach in our new little town.

Now, years later, I still have the nerve to trash-talk pretty much everybody I know who plays  and challenge them to a game. Of course, I  need a new racket, I don’t have any tennis shoes, I need a new tennis outfit, I can’t afford to buy balls, and don’t forget, if I lose it’s because I have a metal heart valve so, I hope that victory tastes sweet for you. Asshole

As for Mark Tija, I recently found out that he is now the resident tennis pro at one of the local country clubs and is widely respected in the tennis world. Of course he beat me; he was obviously a child prodigy. Now, who wants to loan me a racket so I can wipe the court with you?

J. A. Allen

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