exploring the world of tennis . . .     

Collection 4
Gill is discussing a committee meeting with Brian
Gill: I'm sorry I couldn't make the last meeting. Is everything sorted out for the summer fete?
Brian: Yes. I've set up a meeting on Sunday afternoon with the vicar, the local MP and the scoutmaster to discuss arrangements.
Gill: Who's representing the club?
Brian: Er, Jez.
Gill: What! You must be joking. In one afternoon, we could alienate all Christians, the British government and a uniformed youth movement.
Neil greets Jez as he comes off court
Neil: Hi Jez. How's tricks?
Jez: It's just great to be alive, Neil. It's a beautiful day. The sun is shining, birds are singing and the roses are blooming. I've won a couple of sets and I'm hitting well. I feel warm towards everyone. There's even a plateful of chocolate muesli bars waiting for me in the clubhouse. Life is sweet. I know this isn't really like me, but don't worry - I'll snap out of it, eventually, maybe.
Neil: Gill's looking for you.
Jez: Yep, that did the trick.
Tim is helping Jez with his volleying technique
Tim: You're still swinging at those volleys. Cut out that backswing and cut out that follow-through! Let the ball do the work!
Jez: Okay. Feed me another!
Tim: [As Jez swings again] No, no, no! I said let the ball do the work!
Jez: So, yell at the ball, not me!
Mike is sitting in the clubhouse when Jez comes in
Mike: What's up, Jez? You look like you've been through the wringer.
Jez: I went to the physio about my shoulder and she told me I can't play tennis.
Mike: I didn't know she'd seen you play!
Jez is helping Tim with junior coaching shortly after a visit to Wimbledon
Nathan: What was Wimbledon like?
Jez: Somebody came up to me and asked for an autograph. [Nathan curls his lip in a sneer] If you don't believe me, ask Tim Henman. He was standing right next to me.
Jez arrives late for a committee meeting
Gill: [Looks pointedly at her watch] I'm not going to make an issue of it. But my epitaph will say I had the patience and forbearance of a saint.
Jez: Yeh, I look forward to reading it.
On a hot afternoon in July, Jez is supervising the juniors when he notices an ice-cream van down the street.
Jez: Hey, Nathan, you're the quickest - run and get me a coke. I'm parched. Here's a fiver. Get one for yourself.
Nathan: [Sauntering back through the gates, pouring coke down his throat] Here's your change, Jez. Sorry, they only had one can left.
Tim, the club coach, and Neil, Jez's team captain, are discussing training strategies.
Neil: I don't know what to do about Jez at the moment. I can't face the hassle of dropping him for the next match, but he's just so unfit.
Tim: Maybe we should send him on a five-mile run every day, starting Monday.
Neil: Hey, that's an idea. By Sunday, he'll be thirty miles away and he won't be able to get back for the match!
The men's team are fretting over a fourth successive defeat.
Jez: Let's face it, we're in the middle of a slump.
Neil: I don't want to hear talk like that. We've got to search for the positives.
Jez: Okay, we're on the crest of a slump.
Neil and Jez are discussing the team's latest defeat.
Neil: You and Stu had your chances to win.
Jez: We did?
Neil: Remember that floating volley on set point?
Jez: What happened?
Neil: You missed it. Remember that easy overhead on break point in the second set?
Jez: What happened?
Neil: You missed it. And there was that big point when your opponents collided and all you had to do was put the ball into the empty court.
Jez: Oh yes. I missed it. I'll get some practice in next week. I must dash now. I've got a bus to catch.
Neil: I shouldn't bother.
Jez: Why?
Neil: You'll miss it.
Jez consults Mike about his recent form.
Jez: I've definitely improved. I just need to find some consistency. One match I'm fine, the next I'm rubbish.
Mike: I know what you should do - just play every other match.
Jez is introduced to a new member at the club.
Jez: How do you do. I'm Jez.
Miguel: I know. I've been watching you play. I think I can help you with your game.
Jez: Really? So you're a coach?
Miguel: Uh uh. I'm an optician.
Jez is trapping and squashing wasps in the clubhouse.
Tracey: What are you doing, Jez? Oh, yeeuh! Don't!
Jez: Tracey, wasps are nasty, evil creatures whose only purpose in life is to ruin picnics and sting people. They're foul, vindictive and spiteful. They serve no useful purpose and exist only to make our lives hell.
Tracey: That's not fair. Wasps are people too, y'know.
Pauline returns to the club a week after having surgery for a broken nose.
Jez: Hi, Pauline. How was the operation?
Pauline: Oh it went very well. I . . .
Jez: [Examing her nose] Mm, it's a bit puffy.
Pauline: Is it? Oh, I thought . . .
Jez: Well, I expect it's usually like that for a couple of days after surgery.
Pauline: [Sniffs] But it was over a week ago.
Jez: It'll be fine. You'll hardly notice the scar after a few years.
Pauline: Scar? They never said anything about a scar! [Starts sobbing]
[Jez leaves the clubhouse as Gill walks in]
Gill: Are you crying, Pauline? Oh no. Have you been talking to Jeremy? About your nose? What were you thinking! [Pursues Jez] Jeremy, what have you done?
Jez: Apparently she just needed a good cry.
Mike and Gill are picking up Jez from hospital after he receives treatment for a dislocated finger.
Gill: Was that you making all that fuss, Jeremy? It was embarrassing. My sister was here a week ago having a baby and she made less noise than you did.
Jez: Well, in her case they weren't trying to put something back in.
Jez returns to the courts after an injury break.
Neil: How's it going, Jez? Are you ready to play matches again yet?
Jez: My brain's as sharp as ever. It says 'get the first serve in, close in for the first volley, keep it low, close in again for the second volley and put it away'. Everything seems to be falling back into place and then my body says 'are you talking to me?'.
Some of the members of Upper Gummtrey Tennis Club are competing at the annual County Open.
Tracey: Gill, how did you get on? Did you win?
Gill: Yes, I did. Have you got 10p? I want to phone my friend at the hairdresser's and let her know.
Jez: Here's 20p. Go and phone all your friends.
Tim and Jez are talking to the juniors before a league match.
Tim: Good luck, lads. Do your best. Jez, have you got anything to say to these guys before they start the match?
Jez: Yeh. I want to see you guys using plenty of initiative and self-motivation. I want to see real leadership qualities. Now get out there and do exactly what we've told you.
Tim and Jez take the junior squad for a run around the field on a cold, wet, windy morning in November.
Tim: Are you all right, Jez?
Jez: Just tell me again how much fun this is. I keep forgetting.
Jez consults Mike about his tennis ambitions.
Jez: I really want to make it in tennis, Mike. What are the requirements?
Mike: You have to be utterly dedicated. It involves sacrifices. The best thing you can do is give up junk food, smoking, drinking and clubbing.
Jez: Okay. What's the next best thing?
Jez approaches the team captain after a league match.
Jez: That was a much better performance, wasn't it? I've been working really hard on my game. Tell me, did you notice any improvements in me since our last match?
Neil: [Looks hard at Jez] You've shaved.
Jez is supervising a group of juniors.
Jez: Gather round, you lot. Have you all forgotten how to serve? I've never seen so many double faults. Now watch this. [He walks up to the baseline and serves one serve after another, but misses the service box every time] Yeh. So, that's precisely what you've been doing. Now go back and put it right.
Outside the clubhouse.
Gill: How did you boys get on in the match last weekend?
Jez: We lost four-nil. And we were lucky to get nil. Neil was pretty unhappy about it. You should have heard him in the clubhouse afterwards.
Gill: Why, what did he say? Don't repeat the expletives.
Jez: In that case, he didn't say anything.
Jez and Tracey are watching Gill playing in the Club Ladies Final.
Tracey: There's something really graceful about the way Gill serves, don't you think? Something artistic.
Jez: Statuesque.
Tracey: Yes, statuesque. You're right.
Jez: She plays like the Venus de Milo.
Members discuss the committee's decision to replace the traditional end-of-season Cheese and Wine evening with a disco.
Brian: That's what you get for putting something really important to a vote.
Jez: It's called democracy.
Brian: Well, democracy can be like two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner. We've always had an end-of-season Cheese and Wine evening. It's a club tradition. Perhaps we should have one anyway - maybe the week after the disco.
Jez: Count me in.
Brian: But I thought you voted for the disco.
Gill: Yes, you did. In fact, you were jumping up and down when the result of the vote was announced.
Brian: [Appalled] You were jumping up and down?
Jez: Well, it was more of a little hop really.
The men's team meet up for a match.
Neil: Hi everyone. How's your arm, Jez? I hear you've been suffering from tennis elbow.
Jez: It's still pretty sore.
Neil: Do you want some of this new anti-inflammatory cream my mum gave me? It's only just come out on the market. Supposed to be really good.
Jez: No thanks.
Neil: It's perfectly safe. It's been tested on animals and everything.
Jez: They put it on mice?
Neil: Yeh. Oh, are you against that sort of thing?
Jez: I just don't think they should test it on mice.
Neil: But there's really no other way to test if something new is going to be safe for people. The effectiveness of cell cultures and computer models and so on is only limited. You have to observe the chemical reactions on a living organism. It's the only way. These days they take great care to minimise suffering.
Jez: It's not that.
Neil: What is it?
Jez: I don't think mice get tennis elbow.
Jez slopes off court after a defeat in the club singles tournament and bumps into Tim, the club coach.
Tim: Unlucky, Jez.
Jez: Mmm.
Tim: You've got to take the positives from it, you know. People can learn more from defeat than victory. You have to come up with a plan for next time. You've just got to assess your performance, take stock of the good and the bad.
Jez: I've already assessed it.
Tim: Really? So, what's your assessment?
Jez: Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!!!!!!!
Tracey takes a call on her mobile, while Jez and Mike are about to go on court to practise.
Tracey: Mike, that was Gill. She says you needn't go home for your lunch. She's bringing it up now.
Mike: Serves her right for eating it.
Jez discusses a recent defeat with Tim, the club coach.
Jez: I don't think I can take all the blame for losing that match.
Tim: Oh?
Jez: I think I've become a victim of my own downfall.
Tim: I know how you feel. Sometimes losing is avoidable and sometimes it's unavoidable.
Jez: Yeh, and sometimes it's neither.
Jez is talking with club members outside the courts.
Jez: I've been feeling a bit dead lately. I've just felt there's something missing. I'm going to hire a personal trainer. Do you think it will cost much money?
Gill: It won't cost you much.
Jez: Why not?
Gill: He'll only have to work from the ears up.
In the clubhouse one Friday evening.
Neil: It's unusual for Tracey to miss all the weekday evening sessions. Haven't seen her since the weekend.
Bill: I've been feeling a bit guilty about that. I accidentally dropped her Furby in the sink last Saturday. I wonder if she's stayed away because she's a bit peeved about it.
Neil: That's ridiculous. It'd take more than that to keep her away.
Stuart: It's probably because Jez broke off their engagement at the weekend. [There is stunned silence all around. Stuart glances at Jez] Sorry. I thought everyone knew.
Jez: [Turns to Bill] You dropped her Furby in the sink?!
Tim, the club coach, is telling Jez the importance of sports science.
Tim: These days a coach has to know all about physiology, psychology and biomechanics. You know, every movement you make is extraordinarily complex, involving your brain, your nervous system and your muscles. Each individual muscle is an amazing cellular system comprised of a complex latticework of connective tissue - flexible struts and crossbeams that have to keep everything stabilised during contraction and strain.
Jez: Really?
Tim: Even something apparently simple, like laughing, for example, exercises all 34 facial muscles coordinated with over a hundred postural ones.
Jez: Laughing does all that? That's amazing.
Tim: Oh yes. Laughing also increases blood pressure, increases the heart rate, expands your lungs, reduces levels of certain neurochemicals and hormones and even provides a boost to the immune system.
Jez: Wow. That's given me a completely new outlook. I can't wait till I take the juniors for their physical workout on Thursday.
Tim: So there's more to it than you thought then? Will you make any changes for Thursday's session?
Jez: You bet. I'll just tell them a joke and go home.
Tracey takes a call on the clubhouse phone.
Neil: Who was that, Tracey? Are you all right? You look pale.
Tracey: I just spoke to Jez's biological father. It's spooky. I've just arranged for them to meet.
Neil: I see. Jez has never seen him before, has he?
Tracey: Never.
Neil: And you're worried that Jez will refuse to turn up?
Tracey: No, it's just ... I never knew he had a biological father.
Tim offers Jez some advice about his coaching ambitions.
Jez: I'm definitely going to work out at least twice a week in the New Year.
Tim: That's good. You ought to give serious consideration to giving up smoking too. We coaches need to be good role models for the kids.
Jez: But that's just it. I can't stop smoking. I don't want them to think of me as a quitter.
Gill is talking to club coach Tim about Jez's progress.
Tim: Most people learn quickly when they do some hands-on coaching.
Gill: But Jez is not most people.
Tim: Agreed. I can't tell how much Jez is benefiting. I'm not saying I'm the fountain of knowledge. In fact, if Jez stumbled upon the fountain of knowledge, I don't know if he would drink.
Gill: No. He'd gargle.
Jez is about to go on court for a match.
Gill: Have you got a match plan?
Jez: Well, no. I want to experiment with being more spontaneous. You can do too much planning and thinking in matches. Y'know, sometimes I literally get lost in thought.
Gill: I'm not surprised. It's unfamiliar territory.
Jez: Anyway, I'm going to just let my mind go blank.
Gill: Okay. Can you turn off the sound too?
The men's team are waiting in the clubhouse for their opponents when the phone rings.
Stuart: [Picks up the phone] Hello. Yes. I see. Oh, just a minute. [Puts his hand over the phone] It's their captain. They haven't left yet. They want to know which way the rain is coming.
Jez: Er, downwards?
Stuart, Mike and Jez are chatting in the clubhouse.
Jez: Shall we go and have a hit?
Stuart: Sorry, Jez. I've got to go the cemetery. My dad died three years ago today.
Jez: Sorry, I didn't know. Do you miss him much?
Stuart: Oh yes, a lot. He had a way with words and always knew what to say to console or inspire me. I nearly gave up on tennis a while back and it was my dad who encouraged me to stick at it. He told me to accept challenges, so that I may feel the exhilaration of victory. [Walks out of the clubhouse]
Mike: [Turns to Jez and sighs] It was General Patton who said that.
Jez: Crikey. Stuart's dad was General Patton?
Jez has just suffered a tongue-lashing from Gill.
Pauline: I must say you bring out the worst in Gill. She's always snapping at you.
Jez: Oh, don't worry. It doesn't bother me. I think she's remarkable.
Pauline: Really? That's very magnanimous of you.
Jez: She's got the looks of a film star, don't you think? That smile. Those flashing teeth. Those dark eyes looking out of a luminous face.
Pauline: Yes, I think I see what you mean. Kind of like Gloria Swanson?
Jez: Actually I was thinking of the Great White in Jaws.
Jez and Tracey are walking off court after playing a mixed doubles.
Tracey: You were very hard on those people, y'know. You were downright miserable.
Jez: I know. I know.
Tracey: You're becoming very cynical and hateful. It's spooky. I don't like it. You need to lighten up.
Jez: I know. I know.
Tracey: You don't want to be thought of as a misanthrope or whatever it's called, do you?
Jez: No, you're right. I hate people like that.
A political argument breaks out on the patio outside the clubhouse.
Mike: You have to agree, Brian - capitalism is a morally bankrupt system.
Brian: But it works. Socialism doesn't work. Anyway, I'm not sure socialism can claim the high moral ground. After all, redistribution of wealth is a kind of legalised theft, isn't it?
Jez: [Heading towards the clubhouse bar] Socialism, capitalism, pah! There is a third way, you know.
Brian: What's that?
Jez: Alcoholism. Your round, Mike. Oh, what a civilised system!
Tracey has pulled out of the mixed team for the afternoon's match because her dog, Hiram, is unwell.
Jez: Couldn't someone look after the dog for you?
Tracey: He's got a stomach problem. I'm worried about him.
Jez: He's only a dog.
Tracey: Hiram is a beautiful, loyal companion to me. He even brought me papers and magazines when I had the chickenpox. What did you ever do for me?
Jez: I gave you the chickenpox.
Jez bumps into Gill in the club car park.
Jez: Hello. I hear the ladies match was very close.
Gill: Yes, it was decided by a Champions Tie Break. And I'm surprised that no one I've spoken to about it even knows what a Champions Tie Break is. In fact, I'm surprised how little people here at the club really know about tennis. There's so much ignorance and apathy. Don't you think?
Jez: Me? I don't know and I don't care.
Jez picks up the clubhouse phone.
Voice: Good afternoon. Is that Upper Gummtrey?
Jez: Yes.
Voice: There's been a mistake in the Tournaments Handbook. Could you please let your members know our county tournament is open to players from anywhere this year.
Jez: Okay, great. I'll just get a pen. Which county are you?
Voice: Surrey.
Jez: I said which county are you?
Voice: Surrey.
Jez: That's okay. Which county?
Voice: [Exasperated] Sierra Uniform Romeo Romeo Echo Yankee.
Jez: [After a pause] How do you spell Sierra?
Mike and Gill find Jez writing a letter in the clubhouse.
Mike: Hello, Jez. What are you writing?
Jez: I'm offering my resignation as a member of the Club Committee.
Gill: We accept.
Jez: Hang on, I haven't finished writing yet!
Stuart and Jez walk off court together.
Stuart: What's that on your neck strap?
Jez: It's a memory stick. I use it with my laptop.
Stuart: Doesn't it get in the way when you're playing tennis?
Jez: Well, it does feel a bit heavy today. I'd better delete some files.
Jez and Tracey arrive at the club.
Tracey: I had a spooky dream last night. I dreamt you and Gill played mixed doubles together at Wimbledon.
Jez: Well, Wimbledon I can accept. But me and Gill playing mixed together? No way.
Tracey: You got to the final and lost 28-26 in the deciding set and there was a lot of controversy about the winning shot. The umpire actually overruled Hawk-Eye.
Jez: It was outrageous. The ball was clearly out.
Tracey: How do you know? It was my dream.
Jez: Yes, it might be your dream, but I was in it, remember?
Jez is using the clubhouse phone to confirm match details.
Jez: Hello. Am I speaking to the captain of Blackwood Tennis Club?
Voice: No, you're not. You've got the wrong number. And it's not the first time either. That's the fourth time this week!
Jez: Okay, I'm sorry.
Voice: It's really annoying. Where are you getting the number from? If it happens again, I'm going to make a formal complaint.
Jez: Listen, you're not exactly blameless yourself. I may have called the wrong number, but you picked up the phone.
Players gather round the notice board to view the club tournamant draw.
Jez: Oh no! I've got Neil in the first round again. He's already beaten me four times this year. [Starts banging his head against the wall]
Tracey: That's spooky. But don't fret, Jez. It must be your turn to win.
Jez: [Still banging his head against the wall] Oh, no, no, no, no! It's not fair! I'm going to appeal to the organisers. They've got to change it!
Tracey: They won't do that. [Turns to Mike] Come on, Mike. He's your friend - speak to him!
Mike: Listen, Jez, I think you're banging your head against a brick wall.
Neil arrives at the club for his tournament singles match against Jez.
Tracey: Yo, Neil! I've been trying to get hold of you. Jez can't make it. He's had to go to the doctor's.
Neil: Really? What's up with him?
Tracey: He thinks he's been poisoned.
Neil: Poisoned! Why? What happened?
Tracey: We had a salad for dinner and he noticed some caterpillars in the colander when we washed up afterwards.
Neil: But that's ridiculous. They're probably nutritious anyway! [Turns to Mike] Aren't you appalled that he's cried off for such a stupid reason?
Mike: Not really.
Neil: Why not?
Mike: I reckon he's got butterflies in the stomach.
Jez is playing Miguel in the club singles tournament. Jez smashes a short lob right into Miguel's abdominal region.
Miguel: [Collapses to the ground, clutching his stomach] Aargh!! Ow!
Jez: Sorry, man. Sorry. I normally muck up those shots. I'm really sorry.
Miguel: [Still writhing on the ground] Ow! Ohh! Don't just stand there!
Jez: What should I do?
Miguel: Go and get somebody to help.
[Jez returns shortly afterwards with Brian, the club chairman. Miguel is struggling to his feet.]
Jez: Miguel, I've got Brian here and he says it's my point. The onus was on you to get out of the way.
Mike and Jez are talking together after the club's Finals Day presentation
Mike: Do you suffer with hay fever, Jez? Your eyes are red.
Jez: No, It happens every time I have my photo taken.
Gill and Pauline are in conversation at the club one Sunday morning
Gill: You weren't the only one whose strings snapped in the clubhouse yesterday afternoon. It happened to Miguel, Neil and me as well.
Pauline: Really? Must have been the atmospheric conditions or something. But anyway, I got an email from Jez. He's offering to restring my racket at a discounted rate.
Gill: Mmm. I got one too. I want to speak to him about it. The email was sent yesterday morning.
Jez in conversation with Tim, the club coach
Jez: I hear you can't do the extra coaching session this evening?
Tim: That's right. Some of the members want the court for an arranged four.
Jez: I thought you were allowed to use one court for coaching on Friday evenings.
Tim: So did I. We had a verbal agreement.
Jez: Well, it wasn't worth the paper it was written on.
In the clubhouse. Jez is holding forth to no one in particular.
Jez: You know, the human brain is a complex and remarkable organ - trillions of nerve cells all working in harmony. It kicks in the moment you wake up in the morning and . . .
Gill: . . . keeps going until you step onto the tennis court.
Gill storms off court and into the clubhouse where she finds Tracey.
Tracey: So Jez said he wouldn't discuss the nominations for the Committee?
Gill: That's right. I'm afraid I find that young man of yours self-absorbed and egotistical.
Tracey: [Leaping to Jez's defence] Really? Well, at least he doesn't talk about other people.
The players lick their wounds after losing a match in the Mixed Doubles league.
Gill: Is nobody else frustrated by the fact that we lost another match?
Jez: We're just being philosophical about it. Look on the bright side, Gill. At least we're not getting any worse. Let's just be glad we came close in a couple of sets.
Gill: Well, Pollyanna, I think we should be a bit more ambitious than that.
Jez: If we set our sights too high, we'll just be disappointed all the time.
Gill: As far as I'm concerned, you set your standards far too low ... and regularly fail to meet them.
Tim, the club coach, arrives at the club.
Jez: Oh Tim. There you are! Have you got that overgrip for me? I've been waiting for it.
Tim: Sorry Jez. I've had one of those mornings. The car wouldn't start. I had a row with my wife because I couldn't get her to work on time. When I finally got the car going, I dropped off my wife and got to the club gates before I realised I'd left my tennis bag at home. I drove home and left the car running while I ran in to pick up my bag. While I was gone, a thief nicked my wallet from the glove compartment. I ran after him, but I slipped and twisted my ankle.
Jez: So, are you saying you haven't got the overgrip?
Tim: Christ, Jez! I've got car problems, wife problems, money problems, injury problems.
Jez: So you haven't got the overgrip?
In the clubhouse
Tracey: What strings do you use, Gill? Yours always seem to last longer than anyone else's.
Jez: That's because her racket rarely makes contact with the ball!
Brian and Gill are watching a league match from the clubhouse window.
Brian: I've been reading that coaches are sometimes guilty of stifling players. What do you think about that?
Gill: I think coaches don't stifle certain players enough.
Brian: Oh?
Gill: [Pointing to Jez and Stuart] Some judicious stifling might have spared us this painful spectacle.
Jez is talking to the juniors in the clubhouse
Jez: As it's raining we're going to carry on with the lesson indoors. Get your notebooks and pens ready. Now who can remember what I was saying about movement in tennis?
Nathan: You said it's all about balance and rhythm. [Writes in his notebook] How do you spell 'rhythm'?
Jez: Um, I meant tempo.


© 2006-8 Dave Winship