My Turn: Jeff Miller — Life, the universe and the game of tennis

Posted: June 3, 2012 at 5:11 am


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My grandfather once described my aunt and uncle as "two people who spent their entire life taking care of a bird."

Grandpa had a knack for those kinds of unflattering insights. If I ever see him in that, you know, other world, I would not be surprised if he dismissed my wife, Julie, and me as "two people who spent their adult life trying to nudge their tennis game a notch above mediocre."

Mercifully, Grandpa wasn't courtside for my spectacular 1987 come-from-behind doubles victory in the Men's C Division of our local Tracy Austin Doubles Tennis Tournament, uh, against a 9-year-old boy and his big-hearted dad. My 40-year-old partner and I made a strategic decision that achieving victory by relentlessly hitting every ball to the 9-year-old boy was the lesser of two evils.

But I have come a long way since then. Starting any sport later in life is always a huge disadvantage. When I was growing up in the '50s and '60s in a small Midwestern town, folks didn't respect tennis the way they did, say, football, hockey, boxing or baseball. Tennis had a bad rap as the sport for "rich sissies" and baseball ruled as our national pastime.

Nonetheless, both sports involve the same basic activity, hitting a ball with a club.

The only difference is that tennis players actually move around to hit the ball.

Baseball's much higher status, back then, solely stems from the risk of getting beaned in the head by a hard ball.

Plotting my

He looked me over with a condescending smile: "I just told a father it was way too late for his 13-year-old daughter to begin tennis with any hope of turning pro. It takes at least 10 years and 1,000 hours to develop high-level skills, and pre-puberty is the best time for developing certain capabilities. I redirected the family to badminton, where the numbers are a little better."

A career as badminton pro? How embarrassing. We joined the Peninsula Racquet Club, which at the time should have been called the Peninsula Racquet and Drinking Club.

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My Turn: Jeff Miller -- Life, the universe and the game of tennis

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June 3rd, 2012 at 5:11 am

Posted in Life Coaching