We were enjoying our annual three-day weekend retreat from the heat while also taking in a little Art in the Park, as we like to do each summer.
Except on this particular Saturday, we were about an hour ahead of the vendors. They were still setting up their tents and putting their crafts on display, so Kim and I decided to kill some time and take an early stroll around town.
We came to the village tennis courts, where we saw a "mature" woman — perhaps in her late 60s, but possibly older — lobbing shots back over the net to an apparently even older gentleman.
|Blowing Rock seniors make sure they get their time on the court.|
Kim and I took a seat at a nearby park bench to watch.
The woman clearly knew the game. She started slicing the ball, putting some reverse, sideways or some other undecipherable spin on the ball, completely befuddling her partner. Plus, he couldn't go to his backhand. He'd take a swing and miss, then amble over to the ball, pick it up, and whack a fairly straight-forward return that sometimes actually cleared the net.
"She's good," I said. "She knows what she's doing."
Before long, they were joined by another age-appropriate couple, and then another. Within the next half hour or so, there were enough seniors on the side-by-side courts for two full doubles matches. And they arrived ready for serious competition, wearing their tennis whites, sweatbands, wristbands, knee braces — whatever it took. Some even carried their technologically current rackets in specially designed tote bags. Whoa.
One thing I noticed right off is how courteous these folks were to each other. A good shot that fell in just out of reach of an opponent was usually followed by an "I'm sorry" by the striker.
When the games actually started in earnest, hard-won points were celebrated with raised arms, or by"Good shot" from an opponent. The only trash talk I heard came from one guy who said something to the effect that it was too bad there weren't some good players on the court who could actually return the ball. He said it with a laugh.
I know. I sound like I'm surprised by these people; by their attitudes about competition, by their very presence on a tennis court itself.
But this is what I mean when I say that Kim and I may have been given a glimpse into our future. A sign on the tennis court fence said the courts were open to seniors, age 55 and over, every Tuesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. So these folks were just a decade — or less — older than ourselves.
I just hope I can still get around that well when I'm their age. Maybe I should do less sitting on the park bench.