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The Game of Tennis

By

Niruti Pangotra

 

            One, two, three…. I counted in my head. I have just run about 2 miles. I am pooped but I have to do this stupid stretching with the rest on the edges of the grass field. Usually, I would try and take as many short cuts but today, it is different. My tennis coach was looking over this particular session and if he caught me, I could be in a big bowl of soup.

          I stretched out to the left then right, feeling very stupid and tired. All the     people around me are boys, silly boys who never take short cuts. Bully to them. Coach said,

“Okay men… er… people. Lets go for a few swings.”

“Swings the man says,” I muttered, “how ‘bout mood swings?”

“OK boys, I want full two hundred swings. Nimisha, I want you to come here,” coach said gesturing to me to follow him. When he turned, I stuck my tongue out at the boys and jogged over to my coach. “Yes sir?”

“Now, I know I moved you to the seniors time. It will do you a lot of good. But I know that you would feel very bored because you would be the only girl. We’ve been through this week. Do you want to continue?”

I stroked my ponytail thoughtfully. My brown eyes, which had seen only fourteen years of life, twinkled as I said, “Well, you are right about the bored part. But it is much better to play with these guys.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah, each of them is a egoistical, sore loser. But the girls are more friends and mature. Its not fun beating them, but the guys throw tantrums which makes the process of beating much more fun.”

Coach actually laughed at that. He said, “Good point. Go back to your drill. I want 100 swings.” I raised my 5 5” height to the fullest and lifting my hand in mock salute I said, “Yes Sir.” I started jogging back to the spot where the others were doing their drill. I picked up my racket lying on the grass and started my swing practice counting in my head.

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          After the coaching was done the boys and I were enjoying a ten minute break. It was almost nine a.m. I opened her duffel bag and took out my towel and glucose. Slowly I took a sip as the guys all busied themselves in Car-racing games and The Rock.

Boys, they have absolutely no life. There is nothing in their heads except sports, sports and computers. Though my friends call me the hacking whiz and I enjoy tennis and cricket I am not an addict. I am an addict to love stories, love stories and diabetic movies.

 Tarun, a short eleven year old walked up to me and said, “ Nimi, if you do study in MT Carmel, is your brain empty?”  I gave him my famous princess look (aloof +grim humour +narrowed eyes). I then said, “ Oh, yeah? Well lets just put it in two words Mine is empty and yours is full. Of  dung and dead flies.” With that I pulled his cap down so that it completely covered his face.  Then I stood up and said “Adios Amigo, better luck next time.”

 

          The next week (Monday), after going through the usual torture, Coach began to allot matches. “OK, Tarun you play with Ehsaan on first court. Shashank you and Abhay vs. Siddharth & Ansh on the center court. Nimi you vs. Ronak on the last court.”

          I sighed. I mean Ronak could play well, but he was so easy to beat. As I picked up my racket, I planned out my game. First I need to get him over confident. Then test his patience and then cut him to size. Why am I thinking so much, the same plan works on every boy.

          I stuck to my little plan. I let him win the first game of our best of seven match. After that using the power of his own shots I used well-placed rallies to win three games in a row. Actually I was on a match point 40 –0. My first serve got through. It was very simple. But my plan had worked very well. He was very angry and impatient and to finish he put too much power into that shot. It fell outside leaving me victorious 4-1.

          I went back to the bench after the match. As sir screamed his lungs out at Ronak and sat back and enjoyed this episode. Actually this is better than ER. Finally Sir sent him of to the wall.

          Tarun and Ehsaan came back from their match and sir sent two other people to play. Tarun actually is very short. Sir started teasing him about this when Tarun focused on something behind sir’s head. I turned to see that it was Neha, a girl from my school a couple of years older to me. Sir asked him, “Is that your girl friend?”

          “No sir, that’s Mihir bhai’s GF.”

          I first looked at Tarun then at Mihir bhai, who was coming back from the wall.

          Guys, all below 14 years of age, don’t understand the seriousness of the word girlfriend especially around other girls. I turned green, purple then white in the effort of keeping the huge bubble of laughter inside me. At that fateful moment all matches were over and everybody including all those at the wall came back and the usual chatting filled the air. Thankfully they masked all my silent giggles and gurgles. I tossed my water bottle, sipper and towel in my bag as fast as I could. I zipped up my racket cover and strapped my bag onto my shoulders in record time.

          With an even faster Bye sir, I half jogged and half walked towards that gate which kept running away from me. Stupid gate! Come to me you rotten piece of pasta!

          Alas! If I had rocket speed in my feet! If I had a magnet to attract that old oaf of a gate, which was opened at that moment by a girl, called Neha. I froze on the edge of the last court. Oh! She recognized me.

          Neha walked right up to me and said, “Hi!”

          I gave my fake smile; please just say I thought you were someone else.   

          But when did God ever listen to me. She said, “Doesn’t Ash play Tennis with you? I thought you were best friends.”

          “No she doesn’t but if you’re looking for her I can…”

          “No I wasn’t looking for her. I was bored to death there. I needed to talk to someone who thinks about something besides boys.”

 “And you think I don’t think about that.”

“No. Coz you are the one to talk to about…”

I grinned and we said at the same time, “ SVU!”

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