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Playing for the Cure

to McEnroe-itis, that is.

As of a week ago, I was at my wit’s end trying to deal with Simon’s terrible on-court frustration and resulting terrible on-court behavior. That his unpleasantness was mostly self-directed did nothing to make it any more enjoyable from side of the net.

Today, thankfully, I played with a totally different kid. Barring epic recidivism, I attribute the improvement to the following three factors:

  • He’s better: You can’t coach height, but Simon can now hit from the back of court and get the ball over the net. In fact, he can hit from the back of the court and get it to the back of the other side. As of this writing, I have a better serve than Simon. He is better at every other aspect of the game.
  • He’s seen Mr. McEnroe: Matt showed Simon a YouTube video of McEnroe’s most famous on-court tantrums. He did not like what he saw one bit. And for the record, watching the tantrums wasn’t as funny as I thought it would be either. McEnroe is so good at making fun of himself now, that I almost forgot how cringe-inducing he was back in the 80s and early 90s. Today Simon placed a real premium on sportsmanship, with lots of thumb-ups, handshakes, and compliments coming from his side of the net.
  • He got to use his expertise: While Simon’s backhand continues to increase in strength, mine is falling apart. So today I had Simon run the drills. I put him close to one side of the net, placed myself on the center line on the opposite side, got in position, and had him pitch 11 or so balls to me. I did OK; we’ll see if this converts to any improvement when we’re both using rackets.

I’m sure I’ll see frustration bubble over again. It’s part of the game, and, I have learned, commonly seen in our otherwise gentlemanly and laid-back friend Barry. Still, today was a much desired move in the right direction.

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