The Clemences are not a sporty crowd.

And I mean the total sum of us are not a sporty crowd. Not the older generations, not the younger folk, not the way out extended cousins– nothing. We never have football blaring on the TV during holiday gatherings, we never gather at the park to play softball while the hot dogs roast on a grill, and we don’t sit in the rain to watch the kids play their umpteenth game of soccer.

But the summer is a long, boring space of time. We have to fill those hours with something, so we’ve recently invested in the world’s least expensive tennis rackets and a plastic container of balls. The kids were in funky mood on Wednesday, so after dinner I convinced them to get into the van to drive down to the closest tennis courts to practice.

Tennis in flip flops

They looked at me like I’d lost my ever-loving mind.

Me: “We need to get out of this house. Let’s at least try it.”

Caleb: “But what if someone’s there? It’ll be embarrassing.”

Me: “We’ll leave and go to the park if someone’s there.”

Caleb: “But what if someone comes while we’re playing? Can we leave then, too?”

Me: “Just get in the van.”

We drove down the hill to the school with tennis courts, only to be surprised at the condition of the courts. The nets were down and the weeds were up. I mean, waaaaay up. Some of them were waist-high, growing in the four-inch cracks in the surface. Our community isn’t rolling in cash and things often get a little neglected, but this felt more like a post-apocalyptic sort of tennis experience. In the end it added to the fun, because the kids used the rackets to whack down weeds in between serves.

weedy tennis court

I’d reviewed some basic tennis rules before we left, but it turned out it didn’t matter.

I have to say, and the children have given me permission to say this, that our offspring should not expect tennis scholarships to the college of their choice.


Did we have fun?


Did we actually manage to hit the ball a few times?


Did we actually spend most of our time making fun of one another and then chasing the ball across a cracked and weedy expanse of what used to be tennis courts?


Did we learn that we aren’t any good at tennis either and this doesn’t really bother us?

Yes, indeed.

I have a feeling that the good tennis courts are located across town at the new high school, but I don’t know that we’ll bother to go find them. After all, it wouldn’t be as much fun with a smooth, weed free court. And the chances that someone might show up to see our embarrassing efforts is much higher.

I think we’ll stay at the cruddy courts and continue to have a really good time.


2 Comments on Let’s Learn to Play Tennis (but we use the word “tennis” loosely)

  1. David
    July 4, 2015 at 11:07 am (3 years ago)

    For some reason all five of ours have been sporty, although James had his sporting aspirations curtailed by acute osteomyelitis in his femur when he was thirteen years old.

    I couldn’t even begin to estimate how many hours we have spent transporting offspring to/from sports training and events. You have been spared much! And far better to have fun. Having taken Beth to various soccer matches when she was refereeing it seemed that the pressure put on some of those kids by parents took all the fun away. It was quite amusing to see the look on the boys faces when they realised that the ref was a girl! Being used to life with four brothers they didn’t get away with much!

    July 5, 2015 at 7:27 pm (3 years ago)

    I’m glad you guys had such a good time The heck with anything else – go Clemence family!