exploring the world of tennis . . .     

Collection 3
The men's team are in the clubhouse, debating the pros and cons of marriage
Mike: Does anyone really know the key to a successful marriage?
Jez: For me, it's a question of crossing the street.
Mike: What do you mean?
Stuart: He means there's a lot of hazards and you can't afford to make any mistakes once you commit yourself.
Steve: No, I think he means marriage is one of the great riddles - like 'why did the chicken cross the road?'
Bill: Surely he means you should be optimistic about getting hitched - it's a reference to the well-known song. [Breaks into song] 'Just direct your feet, To the sunny side of the street.'
[They all go quiet and turn towards Jez]
All: What do you mean?
Jez: I mean the registry office is right opposite my flat.
Jez is discussing his progress with Mike
Jez: I just don't understand it. I've been working so hard on my game, but my groundstrokes are still terrible, my serve is still terrible and my volleying is barely average. Where am I going wrong?
Mike: You're obviously spending too much time on one thing.
Members discussing medical research in the clubhouse
Gill: I'd be happy to donate my body to science when I die.
Jez: Science? You must mean science fiction.
Jez is on court collecting balls as a class of juniors arrive
Jez: Hi kids. Tim's not well, so I'm standing in for him. We're going to be using some new equipment today. The first thing we have to do is load all the balls into this machine.
[The juniors load the balls in the machine as Jez picks up the instruction leaflet. Senior members can be seen at the clubhouse window, pointing and laughing]
Jez: Right. Do any of you know why we put all these balls in an electric leaf mulcher? [grins sheepishly] Well, why didn't any of you tell me it's not a ball machine?
Tim and Jez are talking to young Nathan after a coaching lesson
Tim: I'm sorry to say that Jez won't be able to coach you on Saturdays any more.
Jez: No, that's right. Unfortunately it clashes with something else I have to do.
Nathan: [executes a scissors kick, swinging an arm in windmill fashion] Yes! Yes! Yes!
Jez: [aside to Tim] I suppose he took that quite well really.
Gill shows Brian the damage to the peg board caused by Jez practising his service action in the clubhouse
Brian: Who on earth did this?
Gill: Who do you think? Let me give you a couple of clues. [Doesn't notice Jez walking through the door behind her] He's the bane of my life. Wears odd socks. Scoffs all the chocolate muesli bars. [Doesn't notice Brian coughing and pointing] A sloppily dressed, brain-dead halfwit wearing a bandana.
Jez: Hello, Brian. It's kind of Gill to shift the blame onto someone else, but actually it was me.
Brian, Bill and Jez are discussing the worst ways to die
Brian: Imagine being burned alive. That's a terrible way to go.
Bill: I hope I pass away in my sleep.
Jez: I agree. I wouldn't want to know anything about it until morning.
Gill confronts Jez after a bad defeat
Gill: You're so sour on court. Where's your sportsmanship? Where's your humanity?
Jez: Rubbish. I'm really sporting. And I'd be a great humanitarian if it wasn't for people.
Jez and Stuart at the changeover, after losing the first set of a league match 6-0.
Jez: I'm not sure I see the point in this any more. I'm letting you down. It's just meaningless going on.
Stuart: Come on, Jez. This set will be different. Meaningless? No. Momentum can change at any time in tennis. Meaningless? Surely, when your strings start singing again, that'll mean something, eh? When the winners start flowing from your racket once more, that'll mean something, won't it?
Jez: It'll mean someone else is using my racket.
Jez is helping Tim with a junior coaching session. Tim introduces a temporary member.
Tim: This is Keiko. She'll need to borrow a racket. She's keen to learn about British culture while she's over here and she's very keen on tennis. [Walks off towards the clubhouse]
Jez: Hello Keiko.
Keiko: Hello. Do you have Prince?
Jez: Er, sure. We have an entire royal family. A queen, a princess, princes - the whole shooting match.
Keiko: You have racket?
Jez: What, protection? That sort of thing? No, no, no. Not in England. Not our royals anyway. When I said 'shooting match', I meant . . . oh, never mind.
Keiko: No, coach tell me you have racket.
Jez: Really? But surely . . . Well, he knows more than I do. It's probably just some kind of conspiracy theory. This isn't Saudi Arabia you know.
Keiko: No, no. I mean: racket - model - Prince!
Jez: Oh, you really don't want to believe all that stuff. Is there a model involved? Well, it's probably just newspaper talk. You know what the tabloids are like. And if it's true, well, who cares? Prince or no prince, can't a man do what he likes in private? Anyway, let's get you fixed up with a racket. Is a Head okay?
Keiko: It start to hurt actually.
Jez and Stuart at the changeover, after chipping-and-charging disastrously throughout the first set of a league match.
Stuart: Crikey, we hardly won a single point! Let's face it, we're rubbish at this chip-and-charge stuff. We need to change our tactics.
Jez: Uh uh. That's what they'll expect us to do. We'll fool them by continuing in exactly the same vein!
Tim, the club coach, finds Jez lounging around in the clubhouse.
Tim: I thought you were taking the boys' physical fitness session this morning.
Jez: I am. You remember how you always told me to think on my feet?
Tim: That's right. A good coach must know when to improvise. So, where are the kids?
Jez: Well, I forgot the key to the equipment locker. So I improvised a very effective shoulder and arm strengthening workout.
Tim: Oh good grief, Jez! You don't mean they're washing your car again?
Jez is at the control table, organising a junior tournament.
Jez: Right, next! Hello, what's your surname?
Boy: Watt.
Jez: I said what's your name?
Boy: Watt.
Jez: Are you hard of hearing?
Boy: No, I heard you. My name's Watt.
Jez: How the hell do I know? You're supposed to tell me.
Boy: I did tell you. It's my name that's making this difficult.
Jez: Why? What's the problem?
Boy: It certainly seems to be.
Jez: What?
Boy: Yes?
Jez: Listen, I've got to put your name on this draw. So what do I write?
Boy: Watt.
Jez: Yes, what. What do I write? What do people call you? What's your damn name?
Boy: Watt.
Jez: Okay, tell me your first name.
Boy: Harry.
Jez: I'm going as fast as I can in the circumstances, you know!
Tracey and Mike in conversation outside the clubhouse
Tracey: It's all tennis, tennis, tennis with Jez at the moment. I don't get a look in.
Mike: Nonsense. While we were away at County Cup, he told me you were always in his thoughts and dreams.
Tracey: Spooky. Really?
Mike: Sure. He bored me every day with details of his soppy dreams.
Tracey: Like what?
Mike: Oh, I don't know. He burbled on about rendezvous under the stars, romantic mists, dimly-lit restaurants, twilight strolls and moonlit passion and such like.
Tracey: Ah, that's nice.
Mike: He said he didn't have a torch but he was pretty sure it was you.
Neil arrives at the club for a team practice and finds Jez in the clubhouse
Neil: Hi Jez. Blimey! What's all that stuff you're wearing?
Jez: Well, I've been reading up on injury prevention. Did you know you can reduce injury rates by 25 percent if you just take a few preventative measures?
Neil: Yes, but . . .
Jez: You see these knee supports - they help stabilise medial and lateral ligaments and guard against cartilage damage.
Neil: Great.
Jez: I've got a lumbar support, shin splint compression wraps and achilles tendon supports. These wrist supports contain concentric magnets inside a neoprene band. Look, here's matching ones for the elbow - ideal insurance against tennis elbow. The calf supports are brilliant - they retain natural body heat and improve blood circulation. Under here I've got an upper arm strap in case I develop biciptal or triciptal tendonitis.
Neil: That's good.
Jez: There's just one little problem.
Neil: What is it?
Jez: I can't move.
Jez's serve is broken for a third time in a league match
Stuart: We're in a spot of bother here, Jez.
Jez: Do you think they've cottoned on to our signals?
Stuart: Oh yes.
Jez: So they know exactly where I'm going to serve?
Stuart: Oh yes. But it's worse than that.
Jez: Worse?
Stuart: They couldn't care less where you serve.
Jez is all alone, hitting against the practice wall
Jez: [To himself] I'm going to keep working at my game like this until I get spotted by some hotshot coach. He'll recognise the raw talent and whisk me away to some camp in Florida or Madrid or somewhere. Then he'll mould me into the champion I was always destined to be.
[He shanks the ball over the wall into the copse and walks off to the clubhouse]
Jez: How long does the guy need? I've been at it for nearly twenty minutes.
Tim and Jez are wrapping up a junior training session. Tim delivers a typical homily
Tim: You know what I think, guys? I think tennis is a kind of metaphor for life itself. How you perform and conduct yourselves on the court is an indication of your potential as a human being.
Jez: [Puts his head in his hands] I'm doomed.
The club is hosting the annual County Open Tournament. A large crowd is watching the opening day's play
Gill: Have you seen Jeremy?
Mike: He's helping the referee. Apparently, he's got to call out the players' names over the PA system when they're due to play.
Gill: [Frowning] Is that a good idea?
Jez: [Over the PA system] Attention, people of Earth. I regret to inform you that in order to make way for the new hyperspace express route, your planet has been scheduled for demolition. Have a nice day.
The players are enjoying tea after a mixed match
Mike: These are good chicken sandwiches, Jez. Did you make them yourself?
Jez: Er, yeh, sure.
Gill: [Gives him a queer look] I'm surprised you had time. Weren't you coaching this morning?
Jez: Well, yeh, but I partially roasted the chicken yesterday.
Gill: But you can't do that! Partially cooked meat causes bacteria to multiply. We could all get food poisoning!
Jez: No, no, I didn't say I cooked it yesterday. I said I was partial to roast chicken. You must have misheard me.
Gill: I heard you say 'yesterday'. You were partial to it yesterday?
Jez: Yeh, I was partial to it yesterday. And I still am. I'll eat chicken till the cows come home.
Mike: Then it'll be beef?
Mandy: [Examining a piece of label stuck to her sandwich] Well, I like Jez's sandwiches. And, according to his nutritional information, they're only 350 calories each.
Jez is coaching a group of juniors
Jez: Let's see if you know your service variations. If a serve dips in flight and breaks to the right, what is that called?
Nathan: An American Twist serve.
Jez: That's excellent. Okay, what if it swerves to the left and stays low after it bounces? Anyone?
Nathan: A slice serve.
Jez: Well done, Nathan. Okay, what's it called if I hit a serve and it goes straight?
Nathan: A miracle?
Jez and Tim are supervising a junior league match
Tim: Jez, can I leave you to get these guys warmed up ready to start at 10?
Jez: Sure. Right you guys, pair up in groups of three.
Nathan: Pair up in groups of three?
Jez: Forget that. Line up alphabetically in height order. Come on! I'll have you lot ready by 10, no matter how long it takes.
Gill finds Jez in the clubhouse eating chocolate cake and flicking through a pile of art books and catalogues
Gill: What's with all these art books?
Jez: I've heard that players like Federer have promoted tennis to an art form. And I want to find out what aspects of art I can apply to my own game.
Gill: We already know what kind of artist you are.
Jez: No, seriously. I've learnt a whole lot of useful stuff. For example, I've discovered there's a whole bunch of things in my game that I just don't need. Have you heard of Rodin?
Gill: Wasn't he a sculptor?
Jez: Yes, and let me quote you what he said about his work. [Sits on the coffee table and picks up a book] He said: "I choose a block of marble and chop off whatever I don't need." Applying that philosophy to my tennis, I've worked out that I don't need to take risks by being aggressive. I don't need to play on opponents' weaknesses because that's unnecessary if you're confident about your own game. And I don't need to go for high percentages - it just allows your opponent to take the initiative.
Gill: So what's left? You've chopped away all your marble!
Jez: No, no. I'm now ready to take my game into the realm of the surreal.
Gill: Ah ha. Is that why you're sitting on a plate of chocolate cake?
Jez and Stuart in conversation during a change of ends
Stuart: You seem a bit distracted today. Anything wrong?
Jez: Well, my sister is having a baby.
Stuart: Oh, I didn't know. That's great.
Jez: Yes. Well, it's affecting my concentration a bit. I keep wondering if I'm going to be an uncle or an aunt.
The men's team meet in the clubhouse before a match
Jez: Okay, okay, so I forgot the biscuits. It's not the end of the world, is it?
Neil: It was your turn.
Stuart: You also forgot last week when you were supposed to bring the milk.
Jez: Yes, well, I'll tell you what, if it'll make you happy, I'll resign from the team. If it's gonna make you happy, you can just carry on without me. Go on!
[The players say nothing and head for the courts to start the match]
Jez: [Waits for a few seconds, picks up his racket and follows them] They wouldn't be happy.
Mike is sitting outside the clubhouse during a club night
Brian: Ah, there you are. There's something I want to ask you if you've got a minute. Is that chair taken?
Mike: No, it's still there. Watch out for the mosquitoes, Brian. There's a lot of them around this evening.
Brian: Yes, I noticed. By the way, this is England - we call them gnats. I notice you don't seem to get bitten by them. I suppose you use a repellent, like me?
Mike: Do you keep them away? Well, you know, repellents can be just as dangerous as the insects themselves. Insecticide chemicals are known to have caused brain cell death and behavioural changes in rats. You can experience memory loss and other side-effects.
Brian: Oh, stuff and nonsense. Damn! Look, one's got right inside my sock!
Mike: Well, mosquitoes like to travel on foot! [Brian coughs] Sorry, Brian. You wanted to ask me something.
Brian: Mmm. [Scratching] I've forgotten what it was.
Neil chats to Jez after a league match
Neil: Don't worry, Jez. Choking can happen to anyone. Maybe it would help if you just faced up to it.
Jez: I don't choke. I just got a little bit tense on that last point. It's difficult to serve when you're tense.
Neil: It's difficult to do anything from a foetal position.
Jez takes a call on the clubhouse phone
Voice: Good afternoon. I'm the captain of Blackwood Tennis Club. We're playing you in the national league next week and I need some directions. Are you north or south of the river?
Jez: Neither.
Voice: Neither?
Jez: There's no river here.
Voice: Well, none of us really want to drive. What's the train service like?
Jez: What day is the match?
Voice: Sunday.
Jez: Well, that's no good.
Voice: Why not?
Jez: There's no railway here.
In the clubhouse
Bill: Hello, Jez. Did you enjoy your birthday?
Jez: Oh yes. Tracey gave me a new watch. It's got a luminous dial.
Bill: Very nice. What is the time, by the way?
Jez: I don't know.
Bill: What do you mean, you don't know? Look at your watch.
Jez: It's not dark yet.
Gill has slipped on court and grazed her forehead on a fence post
Tracey: It's bleeding a bit, Gill. Jez was on a first aid course last week. I'll call him over. Jez!
Jez: [Runs on to court] Ah yes. Let me have a look. [Examines the scratch] Mm, Tracey, get me a tourniquet from the first aid box. Don't worry, I'll use my bandana.
Gill: What? Get off.
Jez: Keep still. Trust me. I've been on a course. I've got to tighten it until the bleeding stops.
Gill: Get off! You can't use a tourniquet around the neck, you fool!
Jez: You're absolutely right. Tracey, get me a saw and a bucket.
Gill arrives at the club for a committee meeting
Jez: Ah, there you are. I've got a message for you from LTA headquarters.
Gill: What is it?
Jez: I imagine it's a big building in London or somewhere.
Stuart finds Jez slumped in a chair in the clubhouse in the middle of a league match
Stuart: What are you doing, Jez? They're ready to start the second set. Why have you come off court?
Jez: It's that Timothy Gallwey's fault.
Stuart: The guy who wrote 'The Inner Game of Tennis'?
Jez: Yeh, him. I've been reading his book.
Stuart: What's Gallwey's book got to do with our match?
Jez: Well, you see, Self 1 was starting to get a bit lippy towards the end of that first set. Self 2 got annoyed with him interfering. You know that volley I dumped in the net?
Stuart: Yes.
Jez: Self 1 told Self 2 it was a really dumb shot. Self 2 totally ignored him and in the end they both stormed off court.
Jez walks into the clubhouse sporting a new leather jacket
Jez: What do you think of my new jacket?
Gill: Ugh! Remember, an animal was killed and skinned to make that thing.
Jez: Ah. [With a crazed look in his eye] I wasn't aware there were witnesses. Now I'll have to kill you too.
Outside the clubhouse
Tracey: How is Liam getting on with his swimming lessons?
Gill: It's quite a slow process really. These days it's all about skill progression and such stuff. When I was little, my father just threw me in the pool.
Jez: He wasn't trying to teach you to swim.
Jez completely misses a smash and the ball lands on his head
Jez: Don't laugh. I'm having a really bad day.
Mike: Cheer up, Jez. It's not the end of the world if you miss a shot and the ball hits you.
Jez: It sure feels like it.
Mike: There's always another way of looking at things. Why, if you were Sir Isaac Newton, you'd stand there and marvel at the effects of gravity.
Jez: I'm sure Newton had his bad days too.
Mike: Relatively speaking, yes.
Jez: Well then, he'd have known how I'm feeling. Gravity gets you down sometimes.
Mike telephones Jez one evening
Mike: I hear you've got a power cut over your side of town. Do you want to come round to watch the big match on TV?
Jez: It's okay, thanks, Mike. We're going to watch it by candlelight.
Jez and Tracey chatting outside the clubhouse
Tracey: I worry about Gill. She can't make up her mind these days. I asked her if she's decided about emigrating and she just says she's waiting for God to tell her what to do.
Jez: I heard the voice of God once. I was about to hit a second serve and I noticed a bright light in the road behind the court. There was this sound. It was deep and resonant. [Pauses in thought] I guess it could have been a motor bike.
Mike finds Jez in the clubhouse
Mike: There you are. I've got a message for you from the selection committee.
Jez: Go on.
Mike: They've picked you for the 3rd team. The match is at home on Saturday.
Jez: Me?
Mike: Yes, you.
Jez: The 3rd team?
Mike: The 3rd team. Saturday.
Jez: Don't they realise I'm hopelessly overqualified?

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