Marko at the Net, Chapter 6

“Get better at tennis.”

That was Marko’s email to self last night, when it became clear to him that of the eight players who came to practice, he is the eighth best.

He has gotten better at some things. “Catching” a volley on the racquet, as opposed to “punching” it. That has resulted in much more successful volleying. I put those “gerunds” in “quotes” because you’re not really catching the ball. If anything, you’re more like bunting it, bringing the racquet back upon contact, as opposed to slugging away.

Slugging away often leads to dumping the ball in the net, egad. The new catching motion, suggested to him by the team manager, is working out great. If Mark used this newly developed skill more often, he would be feeling jaunty about his tennis game.

But instead he feels deflated – well, not all the way deflated, like a flat tire; more like a tire that does have air in it but needs to be pumped up.

How to pump himself up at the net? That is the challenge he faces. On his own depth chart of things to think about, getting better at tennis has surged ahead of preparing for retirement. The two might converge: once Marko retires from high school English teaching in a little under two months, he will have lots more time for tennis.

I honestly think that is going to make a big difference. The guys he was playing with – they play tennis all the time. No wonder they’re so good. Honestly, they are hitting mind-boggling shots. They are just like, k’bam. Marko had been marveling that he was even on the same team as them. Now he is scrambling to make sure he stays on the team.

In the sense of, feeling he belongs.

So, what to do? He sent the team coach a note saying dang, I let a bunch of balls go right by me at the net yesterday – do you know any good drills or videos for that?

And what else? I guess he could rally backhand volleys against a wall. Yes. He has a wall at home he could do this with. I have seen Marko get obsessive about sports remediation. He spent hours trying to throw a tennis ball so it knocked a pie plate off of a stake, back when he was all torn up about lack of throwing accuracy. I think a couple-ten reps of knocking a tennis ball against the driveway wall when his wife’s not in the kitchen – that might work.

And by “work,” I mean, invigorate Marko to go after those get-able backhand volleys instead of letting them whiz by. Instead of letting his partner deal with them. No! Marko wants to handle his business. He wants to be a dependable partner. This is his intention.

Go for it, Marko! Another thing you could do is visualize yourself catching those get-able volleys and returning them at a sharp angle.

Yes. That would be good. I’m visualizing it right now.

PS The image for this piece shows a mushroom pizza his wife made using mushrooms Marko grew himself. In fact, he grew them on an English textbooks, which is a whole other story. I bring it up here because spents months, nay, years, visualizing success at mushroom farming.

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