It’s Just Not A Real Tennis Fight Without McEnroe

Quick story from my younger days. I was at a two-week tennis camp once back before 7th grade, but for whatever reason I was a good two years older than all the other kids there. It was just beginner-level stuff, even for me, so nobody was any good at all, just zero talent on the court. Anyway, one of the kids there was this simply dour ball of sadness. He seemed allergic to things like the sun, using his legs, and smiling. One day, some kid hits a tennis ball toward him, it bounces a couple times, then hits him in his prodigious stomach. He runs off crying, as if it hurt (again, it was hit by a 9-year-old), and we all had a good laugh at the sheer absurdity of it all. We then spent the next 15 minutes hitting tennis balls at each other’s backs and laughing because it never really hurt. Then I - again, by far the oldest one there - unloaded a point-blank shot at this little kid, got him square in the back, and he actually started crying for realsies. I felt kind of bad.

Yellin' John McEnroe
(YELL YELL YELL I AM JOHN MCENROE I AM CONTRACTUALLY OBLIGATED TO LOSE MY MARBLES AM I TOO CLOSE FOR YOUR LIKING ACTUALLY I DON’T CARE HOW CLOSE I AM YELL YELL)

I tell that story because it’s how I learned that it can actually hurt to get hit by a properly whacked tennis ball - it just takes a concerted amount of effort to do so, and there’s just about no way it can happen by accident. In World Team Tennis’s Eastern Conference (whatever the hell that is), the Washington Kastles and New York Sportimes decided to get into the “hit tennis balls at each other” game. During a match. Not for the purposes of entertainment. And with John McEnroe in attendance as a coach. Commence high-decibel madness in 3… 2…

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