IMG_3913I arrived at the tennis court to be greeted by Peter Colt with “Hello Barkley.” I laughed that he was referring to me by my “online name.”

“The last time I tried tennis,” I warned, “I was 7 and using a wooden racket.”

He was not deterred. Tennis is clearly his passion. Not only does he volunteer his time to coach college players, he may be sponsoring a young player with potential but lack of funds, so that she can get a scholarship to college. “Without one, she will graduate high school and go directly into the workforce,” he told me.  This guy has a good heart. Of course this didn’t come up until after my 90 minute tennis lesson.

But first, back to when we originally set the date. My friend Patrick had sent me a racket, so I was set there, but I had no idea what to wear. I don’t own a pair of shorts let alone one of those tennis skirts. So this became a whole “behind the scenes to-do” for me.  I didn’t know anything about the courts where I was meeting him, so when I asked him about sneakers, he told me I could wear my gym sneakers, just nothing with groves. I told him I’d show up in my gym sneakers with my racket. This was supposed to be an opening for him to say, “Perhaps you may want to wear clothing,” in which case I would have asked what the dress code was. But clearly his sense of humor is not in the gutter like mine so he missed the opportunity. So I had to guess.  Not to keep you in suspense… my wardrobe was fine. Phew… I knew you were worried!

I informed him in my online emails that I was practicing my “air backhand” and my “air overhead serve”.. neither came in to play as Peter Colt was teaching me “Modern Tennis.”  Apparently the way the pros play now is completely different than how I learned as a kid. “The days of Connor are over. The new modern forehand and backhand used by Federer and Nadal are the way to go.” (It’s a good thing tennis players are hot, because it’s the only reason I knew who Peter Colt was referring to when he threw out names like Federer and Nadal.) I asked him if Agassi played old school or modern (modern is the answer). I was just throwing around hot tennis player names at that point. I realized quickly that Peter Colt was very comfortable in his manhood, when I threw out the hottest tennis player’s name I knew “the Tom Brady of tennis” Patrick Rafter. Peter Colt had met him and said that he was so handsome in person that it was borderline distracting. I’m paraphrasing, but basically the gist was that the guy was so good looking he couldn’t take his eyes of him, he had a glow about him. Peter Colt actually turned a little red while describing the experience. I put him at ease when I explained I had the same reaction when I met Halle Berry.. she is glowing and flawless and it’s impossible to take your eyes off of her.

But I digress. It is quite an experience to be coached by someone who coaches top notch talent. He kept referring to the forehand as two moves; the swing from back to front and the windshield wiper like cross over of the racket. But in actuality there were many tiny steps that had to be taken in the interim, starting with my initial stance. Instead of facing forward, I was a quarter turn to the right, my grip had to change from the “handshake” to the next V in the grip, my wrist had to be open (which it wasn’t very often, as he kept reminding me “wrist open”), instead of the straight arm from the past my arm had to be bent and relaxed. When it came to hitting the ball, I had to keep my wrist open, get under the ball, turn the racket over to land over my shoulder in my left hand that was supposed to be giving me balance as well as pointing to give the ball the direction I wanted it to go in and then wind up in a position to have the racket land in it. Oh… and my right foot was supposed to drag so I wasn’t pivoting my body, I was only using my arm. Two moves? I don’t think so.

That said, I did hit almost every ball he fed to me, and from what I remember as a child, I IMG_3912 missed most balls back then so there is something in his technique. And the balls kept coming, one after another after another, with adjustments being called out, “turn your racket over,” “open your wrist,” “relax!” After hearing “relax” enough times, I said to him, “If you wanted me relaxed we should have gone for massages before.” But eventually I got a few, “that was perfect” and even a couple of tennis claps which are saved for particularly good shots and involve a “hand to racket” clap. It’s a prestigious honor and I was a little excited every time I got one.

Finally, my wrist and hand were killing me and I couldn’t take another ball coming at me so I asked him how long we’d been playing. Turns out I managed to last an hour without complaining. I suggested (kinda jokingly) that we move on to backhand to give my right wrist a break. He jumped at it. Again with the “two moves” that were not in actuality two moves. But I caught on to backhand pretty quickly. So he had me stand center court at the  back line (I know there’s a technical term for it but I don’t remember it) and he would call out “forehand… backhand” and I would switch back and forth. Turns out tennis is a lot like line dancing for me. I finally learn one dance and as soon as I’m taught another, I forget the steps to the first. I picked up a little frustration in his voice so I thought it was best that we call it a night.
IMG_3914He taught me how to pick up the 10,000 balls I hit (well, at least that’s how many it felt like) with a basket contraption. That part was fun! And when we were packing up our rackets and I pulled out the waters I’d brought for us, he said, “Thanks Barkley.” It’s kind of weird to be called by your dog’s name, as is the name I’ve chosen for my online profile, and then it dawned on me… “Do you know my name?”I asked him.  He didn’t.  Once he had asked me the name of a movie I wrote and I told him I’d rather wait until I met him to protect my privacy. So he was respecting my privacy by not asking my name. I couldn’t help but burst out into laughter. “So, for the entire 90 minutes that we’ve been together, you’ve had no idea what my name was… that’s hilarious.” And then I told him.

We hung out by the parking lot and talked a bit. We were talking about movies and television shows (he’s never seen 24.. uh oh!), making each other laugh, so he suggested we continue the conversation nearby over a soda since the mosquitos were coming out.  When we got to the shopping area, there was a pizza place, a Chinese restaurant, and a IMG_3915
yogurt shop. I had to give him the whole no gluten, don’t drink soda story, so we wound up in the gluten free yogurt shop. I had original tart with almonds. No Dirty Virgin drinks on this date, though a Dirty Virgin Margarita would have gone well with very cold yogurt.

An hour of conversation about tennis, his college aged kids, and sports went by quickly. We also had good conversation about movies, though he didn’t like St Elmo’s Fire or About Last Night, so really how could I continue to date him?

Overall, it was fun, he was a good guy… chemistry not there at all. This dating method is good for me though. I have a really good time with the guys so I don’t get caught up in the “is this guy right for me” thing that I used to when I had to sit through a dinner date. Instead, we just enjoy each other’s company, and if the sparks aren’t there, we simply say goodnight, knowing we each just met a good person, had a fun few hours, and it’s on to the next person.  So, stay tuned for date number 8…

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  1. Sue Painter says:

    I’d have been completely worn out. Good sport, you are!

  2. I’m impressed with your stamina! that’s a lot of tennis! What a pity there was no chemistry!

  3. Mira Dessy says:

    Adorable story, sounds like a fun date. Even though there wasn’t any romantic chemistry it sounds like you just met a new sports friend.

  4. Mitch Tublin says:

    Sounds like there was some tennis going on in the yogurt shop as well.
    These stories are too much fun!

  5. I’m loving getting the inside scoop on your dates. Such interesting outings. I agree that it can take “the pressure” off when you’re just looking to get to know someone without the formality of dinner!

  6. Pingback: DATE 9: GOLFING WITH HAPPY GILMORE | 50 First Dates Girl

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