This is the final week of regular tennis at our local indoor club. When the weather gets nice people tend to play outdoors, and high school teams use the club, and summer camps and other things fill their spaces during the hot months. So "contract time" ends for the summer.
I will miss it. Playing tennis is something that has been passed down through the generations in my family, and I tried to pass the torch on to my children. I realize that it is sometimes looked upon with skepticism as a genteel activity for the well-to-do, but it is so much more than that.
First of all, one of my favorite parts of Bangor Tennis is the informality and friendliness. I have been to clubs (mostly when I was a kid, but they are still around, I know) where there was a strict code of dress and behavior. All white only. Keep your voice down. Anything old or frayed, or stained or wrinkled was NOT comme il faut. At the Bangor club people wear all colors in all conditions. There are more shorts and t-shirts than there are tennis dresses or coordinated ensembles. I can't stand pretension, so that's my kind of place.
Tennis has been a social link for me for my entire adult life. Anywhere I move to, I find tennis and automatically connect with a bunch of friendly people who enjoy friendly competition. It is a social networking tool that far outperforms Facebook - good for your body and great for your mind.
So many of us show up tired, worn out, distracted. But tennis is a head game above all, and one of the things it requires is to turn off the busy, fretting, preoccupied parts of your brain. You shut out the wearying parts and focus on the "just do it" part. Even more than working off the overage on the body, tennis helps you work off the overage on your mind.
The women I play tennis with have become many of my best friends in the area. It's amazing how much you can share during the warm-up and side changes during a morning of tennis. We laugh a lot, pass on news, and then get back into play. Move your feet, bend your knees, line up your body, watch the ball, swing through it. All that focus on simple physical acts is an incredible restorative to a fraught mind.
And one of the best parts is that you can carry on with tennis indefinitely. You commonly see men and women in their 80's still on the court. They often have killer spin serves or other tricks that make them real contenders, even if their sprinting and power games are not what they used to be.
From my childhood days of playing with summer friends on a court strewn with anthills and clumps of grass, I have enjoyed playing this game. I hope to keep it up - maybe even to 100. That can be a new piece of my lifetime goal.