Racquetball Report #3: Toys

I know, I said I wouldn’t keep posting these, but other than Lisa’s chemo this is what I’ve got to talk about right now. Anyway… I don’t remember if I mentioned this before or not, but I play in a league. We get paired up once a week and then exchange calls/mail to arrange a time. There weren’t enough total beginners like me to form our own “level 4” bracket so we got lumped in with the level 3s. From what I’ve seen I’m about a 3.5, but up until now I’ve played 3s each week and haven’t won a game, never mind a match. Well, I played a 4 this past week and now I know how the shoe feels on the other foot. 5 points in to the first game I decided to work on a new serve, she was that bad. Only her sixth time playing, so no offense or anything, she was just outmatched.

On Thursday I played Dave, and while I didn’t have my usual slow warm-up I still lost 15-10 and 15-5… and then beat him 15-5. Bizarre. He wasn’t particularly tired, I just kept my serve “in” and didn’t make some of my usual errors. Go fig.

“Toys” aside #1: I’ve started wearing a headband, and it’s ridiculous how much pleasure I’ve taken in it. Who knew (everyone, apparently) that two dollars in stretchy terrycloth l is l your forehead would keep sweat out of my eyes? So simple, but so satisfying.

“Toys” aside #2: A problem that a lot of newbies seem to have is treating their racket like it’s fragile. This is a problem when you’re moving fast (say, running from one side of the court to the other) and the ball is an inch from the wall. It seems the instinct is to protect the racket by gingerly trying to flick the ball with an edge. No no no no… you gotta whack it. It’ll make a hellacious… er… racket when it bangs into the wall, but the damn thing is probably made out of the same stuff they built the International Space Station with, it’ll be fine.

“Toys” aside #3: There are a half-dozen or so commonly-sold balls for racquetball, each claiming to have different properties or be sanctioned for types of play or… whatever. Contrary to what I’m used to seeing in sports paraphernalia, however, they range in price from three bucks to… four bucks. I know, right? You’d think they’d gouge you for a sawback or something on the high end ones, but this is not the case. It’s a little sad that I find this refreshing, but there ya go.

Back to ball -whappin’. On Saturday, I had a classic example of that old sports aphorism about winning the games you’re supposed to win. My friend Steve was back from an extended vacation and, while I offered to let him beg off for the week he said he was game. Normally, Steve is ~4-5 points better than me, ignoring factors like illness or injuries or whatever… I’ve won MAYBE 5 games of the 50+ we’ve played. That day, I beat him 17-15, 15-11. Other than the newbie I played earlier I think this was the first time I won the majority of games I played at once. Like I said, he was in less-than-ideal circumstances, but you gotta win the games you’re supposed to win.

This week: league, Dave, and Steve…

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