2017-08-10 / Family

Son’s tennis lesson is too hot to handle

Michael Picarella

Our 14-year-old son says tennis and ice cream go together.

I’ve heard of baseball and beer and I’ve heard of football and beer. Then there’s basketball and, well, beer. But tennis and ice cream?

A few months ago, my son took up the sport. Thanks to his coach, he’s showing real improvement. He had practice the other day, and my wife asked if I thought we should go watch.

“It’s 100 degrees out,” I said.

But she wanted to go watch.

“Of course I wanna go watch,” I told her.

According to the thermometer in the car, it was actually 102 degrees outside. Inside, on the way to the tennis courts, the air was pumping to keep the vehicle a cool 72.

The coach met us in the parking lot wearing a sun hat, but he was burned to a crisp. He was like Lawrence of Arabia out there. There’s a scene in the movie where someone tells Lawrence only two kinds of creatures enjoy the desert: Bedouins and gods, and Lawrence was neither.

Lawrence disagrees and says the desert will be fun. Similarly, our son’s coach was eager to play in the sun.

“You guys go ahead,” I said to everyone. “I’m gonna wait here for a second. There’s this weird noise with the car I keep hearing every now and then that I have to figure out.”

“I don’t hear it,” my wife said.

“Yeah, it’s only every now and then. I’ll wait here till I hear it. It usually happens when I have the air conditioning full blast like I have it now. Go without me. I’ll catch up.”

“I thought you wanted to go watch,” my wife reminded me.

“But the car noise,” I told her. She waited.

“Of course I wanna go watch,” I said. “Let me just shut off the car and the pumping AC here.”

On the tennis court, our son was hitting the ball just hard enough to go over the net, but not so hard that it was a home run over the fence.

“When you hit the ball,” the coach told the kid, “hit it right through my chest.”

“I was gonna hit it harder, but then I thought I’d hit it too far,” our kid said.

“There is no ‘was gonna’ in tennis. Commit. You hit a hole in my chest, we get ice cream.”

There were no holes being hit through the coach’s chest. But it was possible.

“Anything’s possible,” he told our son. “Once you hit the ball to me, you have to be ready to go fetch it anywhere. . . . By the way, that ball you just hit was out.”

“Oh, OK,” our boy said.

“Don’t just believe me,” the coach said. “It was in. Second rule: Trust nobody. Watch that ball.”

“That hit sounded good,” my son said when he returned the ball.

“Why’d it sound good?” the coach asked.

“It sounded good because I hit the ball with the center of my racket.”

I wanted to tell them both what didn’t sound good: 40 more minutes of heat on that court.

My son asked his coach if the two of them could play an actual game.

“Sure,” he said. “You win, we get ice cream.”

There was no way the coach would play his best. He didn’t.

“Whoa,” my son said when the ball whizzed by. “What kind of shot was that?”

“That’s a preview,” he said. “It’s called Month 12.”

Our son tried to return the ball with some sort of crazy reverse pirouette backswing.

“What kind of shot was that?” the coach asked.

“Hopefully not Month 12.”

The coach offered one last challenge: “OK, if you score this next point, we get ice cream.”

There was no way our son would miss the point. He did.

The game was over and so was practice.

I don’t believe kids should be rewarded just because they tried or participated. So even though our son didn’t put a single hole through the coach’s chest, didn’t win the game or get that last point, we got ice cream anyway.

Because, by the time we got back to the car, the temperature outside had gone up to 105! Ice cream and tennis go great together after all. I got some icecold Thrifty black cherry myself.

Email Michael Picarella at michael.picarella@gmail.com. To read more of his stories, pick up his book, “Everything Ever After,” at www.MichaelPicarella.com.

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