I believe it was the summer after high school that Fred and I started playing tennis. Maybe it was a year earlier than that. I dunno. All I know is that once we started, that’s pretty much all we did for a few years. In the hot afternoons of a Sacramento summer we played tennis. And played tennis. And played tennis. Wilting in the 100 degree heat. Drinking warm water out of the cans the tennis balls came in. Going to Seven-Eleven afterwards and getting a Big Gulp — 44 oz. of ice cold soda.
We didn’t take lessons. We just started playing and improving with each other as we went. After a few years, Fred got better. Good enough to play for the local community college team. Our tennis playing grew apart.
It’s a sport that requires the two players to have comparable skills or it becomes boring for both, particularly the better player.
Once Fred moved on, I kept trying to play. With a friend here. Another friend there. But I never found the right match for the tennis court. Either I played with somebody I could consistently beat or somebody who could consistently beat me. It’s a frustrating thing. I loved the sport. But I stopped playing for lack of a good competitor.
It’s probably been fifteen years since I played. Through all of those years of playing, I never got tennis elbow. Ever. And in those early years with Fred, we played a lot. A lot of repetitive strain on the ol’ elbow. But it never happened.
I’m 52 now. Haven’t played tennis in those 15+ years. I have tennis elbow.
A couple of months ago, I decided to start doing push-ups. Just kind of because. I keep hearing how they are the perfect exercise, working a lot of upper body muscles. Blah, blah, blah.
The first night, I managed two sets of ten.
I should point out here that I do not do full push-ups. I refer to them as 3/4 push-ups. Ever since I was a teenager I have had tendonitis, or impingement syndrome, in my right shoulder. It’s kind of cropped up with my left shoulder as well. This never bothered me while playing tennis, but throw a baseball and it does. And do a push-up and it does. Not going all the way down to the ground eases some of the strain on the old shoulders.
First night …
Two sets of ten 3/4 push-ups.
About a week ago, I had worked my way up to three sets of twenty-two.
And I haven’t done a push-up since.
I have tennis elbow.
Maybe I should go back out to the court and whack the ball around a bit. Only that would aggravate my neck, my knees, and the ol’ groin tear.