Sweating It Out Like A Player

Earlier this week, my wife returned home from taking our dog Rodney on his customary morning jaunt around Martinsburg complaining that “it’s so hot out there, I’m already soaking wet.”

I wasn’t concerned about her, though. My wife likes to sweat. The fact is, in the summertime, she makes herself perspire enough for the both of us.

As if to confirm that, she almost immediately ventured back outside for her daily bicycle ride.

Before she left, I cautioned her to be careful and then settled back into the comfort of my favorite chair to watch others sweat on TV.

I don’t much like summer. The sun blazes much too bright for my taste, the air is much too close for comfort and the kids are home from school – a triple-whammy that makes me sweat just thinking about it.

But summer has at least one redeeming feature and, as my wife left for her bike ride, I returned to it.

I’m not a big fan of watching sports on TV, but if there is one sport that I watch with the fervor of a zealot, it’s tennis. And right now, it’s all about Wimbledon.

What wouldn’t I give to be on Henman Hill just once? Wimbledon (Photo credit: paulafunnell)

I’d like to say that I come by my infatuation because my dad was a tennis player, that I followed in his footsteps and still like to test myself on the courts every once in a while.

But no one ever accused me of being much like my dad.

An old high school friend who knew him joked last year that playing racquet sports “just didn’t take” with me.

My friend should know. When we took lessons together as kids, he spanked me in a round robin competition. I didn’t win a game and was forced to drop out.

If memory serves, that was the same summer when I was a less than stellar ball-boy for the Sweet Sixteen tournament in my hometown of Charleston. I was apparently so slow that I annoyed Anne White, the Charleston native who became a two-time All-American tennis player at the University of Southern California.

Such humiliation soured me on tennis. Then the summer of 1985 rolled around. I was a college student when White annoyed Wimbledon by showing up wearing a tight-fitting bodysuit during her first round match against Pam Shriver.

Anne White annoying Wimbledon in 1985.
Anne White annoying Wimbledon in 1985.

That was the same year Boris Becker burst on the scene. As a brash 17-year-old, he threw himself all over the court on his way to becoming the first unseeded player and the first German to win the men’s singles title.

White’s bodysuit notwithstanding, Becker’s gutsy style of play had me on the edge of my seat. I’ve followed tennis ever since.

My obsession with grand slam tennis tournaments is going on hiatus soon. “The world’s most famous fortnight” is coming to a close this weekend, and I now have to rely on baseball to fill the gap between major championships.

Thankfully, my 15-year-old son is a fan. We’ve been going to Washington Nationals games together and have even taken to stalking Bryce Harper, the Nationals young slugger who was injured during a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in May and was on a brief rehab stint with the minor league Potomac Nationals

Before Harper rejoined the Nationals earlier this week, we drove to Woodbridge, Virginia just to see him up close and personal with the P-Nats. He made the long drive worth it when he treated us to a homer over the right field wall.

Bryce Harper at bat with the Potomac Nationals, June 26th, 2013
Bryce Harper at bat with the Potomac Nationals, June 26th, 2013

But while baseball has the power to command my attention, it’s just not the same as tennis. So when the U.S. Open gets underway at the end of August, I’ll be back to sweating it out along with the players all the way to the final.

Well, not literally sweating it out with them.

I’ll leave that to my wife.


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