I’ve played a lot sports in my life and found that each sport has their own class of jerk. In golf, it’s usually the guy with the huge leather “tour” bag and bag tags from every elite club around the country. They’d regale you with their great matches against Phil and Tiger, and tell you about the time they took $1000 off Nicklaus while shooting 63.
Racquetball was a bit different: those jerks would simply arrive at your match about 10 minutes late, warm up for 5 minutes, and then blow you off the court while somehow never acknowledging you existed.
But, since I started playing tennis, I’ve been introduced to an entirely new breed of jerk: the contemptuous player who looks down his nose at you when you hit a few balls wide.
I’ve now met 2 of them in my brief existence as tennis player and the scenario was the same. Someone from my club asks if I want to hit with “John.” John then asks me directly, “what kind of player are you”….while somehow making you feel you’re a nasty object on the bottom of his shoe.
Mind you, John doesn’t play any USTA tournaments and has no bona fides other than at THIS club, he’s a pretty good player.
I don’t know what to answer to “the kind of player I am.” Hitting partner for Nadal? NCAA doubles champ with McEnroe? Gave Agassi lessons for a few years in Vegas?
Instead, I just shrug my shoulders and start hitting. Now, I do take a few minutes to warm up and in that 10 minute period can hit some wild shots. But, 10 minutes is all John needs to realize I’m a complete waste of his time, so he sidles up to the net and announces he’s going upstairs to “work out.”
Wow: that’s pretty in-my-face! I mean at least pretend you’re late for an appointment and beg off. Or say you’re not feeling well. Or pretend to twist an ankle and hobble off.
But no, I heard loud and clear: I was taking up far too much of his oxygen to remain on the court. Noted, for future interactions!
Now, I’ve met folks like John in other sports: the guy who only ever plays with his buddies, develops a fairly good game, but beyond his little envelope is a relative lightweight. And I’m not above saying I took special pride in schooling them, just to wipe the smirk off their face.
But in tennis I’m not good enough to do any schooling…yet. Instead, I have to stand there like an idiot while John goes off to “work out.”
John will get his time, though. Of course, he won’t remember our first interaction — they never do — but I’m seriously hoping we have an eventual outing where he’s reduced to tears. And I can them ask him what kind of player he is.