And I don;t mean the womble kind. No, Tennis! Traditionally in the UK, during the last week in June and the first week of July, the nice weather goes on holiday and tennis fans from everycorner of SW19 huddle under kagools and umbrellas
patiently waiting for the chance to shout out "Come on Tim!!" (incidently, 'Henman-ia' finished as early as the second round when 'Tiger' Tim
got knocked out by Federer in straight sets. Still, always next year.)
At the moment, Japan seems to be following this radition as close as it can; the rainy season has started and people are playing tennis. Last weekend I played in the Niigata-Ken SHS Teachers Tennis Tournament with my teachers from Tokamachi. I was quite surprised when Saito-sensei asked if I'd like to join, but I jumped at teh chance. I did warn him that I haven't played for ten years (not since sixth-form) but he said it was fine because we would practise a little before. We had two practise sessions at Sun Sports, a pretty bit sports complex that never knew was hidden in the Tokamachi mountains. My first hit of the ball, I sent it flying over teh fences and into the next court. which meant I needed a lot of practise. But, after two one hour sessions, the rally play came back, but my serve was ropey. How did I used to serve before?
So, the tournament came. Saito-sensei picked me up and we drove to Shiozawa. We had some time to practise so again, I tried to remember how I used to serve. Still, I couldn't do it.
So, first game. We had eight in our team, but only three doubles played in each match. So, one of teh teachers and I were recurited to make a mix team to replace a school who hadn't turned up. And the school my mix team played against was Luke Derror's! Luke had played in the tournament last year so I was hoping he'd make it again this year. Unfortunatly, we didn't get to play against each other as I was in the first set, and he played in the second. In my set, I still couldn't serve and I think all those double faults contributed to my double loosing our set. But the other two doubles won, so my mix team went through to the next round.
But as I was waiting, Sanjo Higashi school came and recruited me to play for them. On of their players was absent so I took his place. I tried my best and was getting better with each game, until, suddenly, I found I was serving again! The secret was that I used to underslice the ball, so it floated over rather being smashed over. With that breakthrough, we won the set and Sanjo Higashi were through to the next round. I, however, wasn't needed for teh next game because the missing teacher arrived. I was disappointed, but chuffed that Id found my serve again.
I didn't get to play again. The three doubles for Tokamachi were playing really well and worked their way up to the semi-finals. Perhaps next year they could take the title. Perhaps next year I could be playing against them with one of my new schools!