I began playing tennis with a large brick wall at the local elementary school. I used an old wooden racket to hit a backpack full of tennis balls against the wall, working to improve my ground strokes and serve. I hoped a big-time tennis recruiter would drive by, see my extraordinary talent and ask me to go pro. That never happened.
I played for fun off and on the summer after my freshman year and I tried out for the high school team my sophomore year of high school. I made the junior varsity team in spite of the fact that I had a racquet that was probably older than me. After some advice from some of the other players I purchased a new Prince racquet that served me quite well from that time on.
During my junior year a friend of mine and I practiced together and played as doubles partners. That summer we practice even more, gearing up for our senior year. The coaching staff changed and they had us scrimmage among the team to determine the rankings for the team. Much to my surprise, I was ranked #3 on varsity. I ended up having the winningest record on the team, playing #2 for a few months when our #2 player went to France.
I really enjoyed that year because I felt good about my serve and ground strokes and was at the peak of my game. My coaches helped me improve my game even more, and I ended up playing in the state tournament. I lost in the first round to the player who had taken 1st place the previous year. It felt good to play him because he forced me to play better than I ever had. I won 3 games during the 8 game pro set, but he won the set. I was awarded Most Improved Player that year.
I thought about trying out for tennis in college, but took an intermediate class instead and ended up wishing I'd taken advanced. I also played a lot of tennis with a friend who had a great two-handed backhand. I use a one-handed backhand, normally a slice, and it's probably my weakest shot.
In Spain I didn't have a whole lot of time to play, but when I did I discovered that I was no longer on top of my game. I missed easy ground strokes and my serve was not nearly as consistent as it had been in high school. After returning from Spain I didn't play much until my younger brother came to college and wanted to play. He was fresh out of high school tennis and my lack of practice showed during the first few games. I soon regained my skills and we were a pretty even match.
I don't play at all any more and I wish I did. It's hard to someone who plays at a similar level. The other problem is that I haven't played in so long, I don't know how I'd do now. If I were to play someone who was at my level in high school, I would probably lose miserably.
For official rules and information about tennis, see the US Tennis Association site.
Updated Oct 25, 2016