Last few days of the year

Raining and blowing a gale (again). A scramble for an indoor court and bagged an hour at 3.30pm. How good it felt to hit a few balls on the singles court 

Thurs 28th – Between Christmas and new year, when you are not sure what day it is or what you should be doing. It can even be difficult to remember who you are in the face of an onslaught of food. The TV schedules are on repeat, dredging the past and repackaging for today. 

Add in a heavy cold, mix with appalling weather outside and roll with it for several days. Its disorientating. Everything on hold 

I had to cancel yesterday’s practice and the one the day before that. When energy is low running around a tennis court seems to be too big an effort. Left to my own devices of course I probably would have turned up yesterday and given it a go. It was close but wise words were heeded and I have to say they were right. 

Nonetheless, I am now ten days without any real activity. It’s at once both frustrating and accepted. If you are going to have a week of no activity, there are worse weeks. Most places are closed or on reduced hours and potential practice partners are otherwise engaged.  

Maybe the niggle is the lost opportunity to get ahead while the rest of the world rests. 

With only days of this year left what did I make of it and what will I make of the next? 

I look at my ITF numbers and at my miserly twenty percent win rate, a GB ranking of 56. A world ranking of 929 compared with a career high of 539. A WTN of 32.6 and 156 ITF points. Nothing here to frighten anyone. 

The numbers could be a bit dispiriting if I was of a mind and if they were the only measure. 

I tell myself that is history and believe it (mostly, I mean, I did’n’t get where I am today without a healthy dose of doubt) 

I actually think I am a better player now than I was a year ago … or as John Lennon suggested in  Imagine …. 

You may say I’m still dreaming ….. 

…………………And I may be the only one 

But I believe there is more progress to make. I know the progress I have made and I know the progress I want to make next.  

It’s the last week of the year.  

Today is the last Friday of the year. The new season is just around the corner. There is so much I still need to do and at the same time so much I have done already. This blasted cold has taken the edge off my preparations. 

Sitting on my hands these past ten days has been a little bit frustrating. I have also found myself quite accepting of the situation. If I am going to be ill, then the Christmas period is not the worst time to be under the weather. We had no great social whirl planned in any case. 

Last night when I slept the pain in my left knee and the pain in my right elbow were less noticeable. Maybe I am finally shaking off this bug. 

In the past 24 hours I have moved to preparations for the new season. Not in a big way, not by actually doing anything physical. Reviewing likely tournaments and seeing familiar names creeping onto the entry lists, starts the ball rolling. 

Then a more practical step. Create an actual printable calendar for 2024, January through to December. Without marking the calendar, the major tournaments emerge like a photographic print from the developing tank. Black and white at this point, to be coloured in by the experiences of the next 12 months. 

Will I make that leap forwards? What if anything would point to a leap forwards being a possibility? What has changed? What would qualify as a leap forwards? 

Time to commit to the targets for 2024. I’ll print them here in due course, but not in advance. 

And above all, I intend to enjoy the process of trying to improve. 

Time to think forwards, here we go …… 

Make those dreams into concrete things 

In the afternoon I stood in as my wife was a player short for her four. The rain was dancing down in the short walk jog thing between car and tennis centre as I tried in vain to zip up my raincoat. Thankfully we were indoors. A perfect way to get back into things after carrying this heavy cold for the last week or so.  

At first it was about me and me hitting the ball. Self centred as usual. After hitting  a few balls and gaining a bit of rhythm short court style, I started to be more precise on where to hit the ball. A few balls to the backhand then a few to the forehand, then alternating forehand then backhand then forehand and so on. No matter where the ball bounced on my side I tried to place the ball back with consistency. Thinking about my feet and movement and relaxed and following through. All good practice. The surprise was just how enjoyable this simple activity was. I could have gone on for ages. 

Two thoughts surfaced. I had said when questioned about why I could not just settle for playing a few casual sets of tennis per week, that it did not interest me and I would probably stop playing if I was not trying to improve. Well this afternoon was great fun, so maybe I need to revise my view. 

It was good to be back on court and we played out an hour of very enjoyable doubles. 

Sat 30th – Clicked entry on first tournament for 2024.  Pencilled in a number of other possibilities. 

Raining and blowing a gale (again!) A scramble for an indoor court and bagged an hour at 3.30pm. How good it felt to hit a few balls on the singles court. After an initial few framed balls everything went pretty smoothly. Got into  a relax mindset and play the ball deep with spin. Cracked one double handed backhand from  a couple of steps inside the baseline, so smoothly that the ball shot from the racket so fiercely it evaded my opponent and away into the corner. There was never a thought that I might miss, it was a kind of certainty. Good to be back on court. 

Sun 31st – Still raining. Still blowing a gale. The last day of the year. One final visit to the gym to sign off the year. 

Thank you 2023 and here’s to 2024! 

Happy New Year! Let’s play tennis! 

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