One year in and I’m still completely hooked on tennis. I feel like I don’t stand and simply stare at the ball as much as I did in the beginning. For some reason, I’m fascinated by whether or not the ball lands in bounds or out of bounds. Hence the standing and staring instead of moving and hitting.
My coach is an interesting fellow. A pre-med student turned tennis pro, he is smarter than he lets on and is fairly adept at communicating tennis strategy to our team, which consists of a dozen women over the age of 40 who are new to the game. Bless him.
I hear his voice in my head when I’m playing in a competitive match. Things like, “you better run!”, or “hit it down the alley”, etc. But the one that I hear most is the one he uses when he sees I have no chance at getting to the ball. Then he issues the warning, “you’re in trouble”. He knows I am not prepared for the return shot and now it will require a miracle for me to get a racquet on the ball.
I’ve heard “you’re in trouble” so many times that it has made its way into my own vernacular. Unfortunately. I say unfortunately, because, as you know, I teach piano. To small children. To little girls who are sweet and sensitive. Little girls who usually do the right thing. So… imagine the scenario when I observed a student in my beginners class who was not using the correct fingering during her song and was going to have difficulty executing the note passage. And then I said it. Out loud. “Uh-oh, you’re in trouble….” BIG mistake. She stopped playing, turned and looked at me with horror on her face, tears in her eyes and asked, “What did I do?” I did a quick mental rewind of what I said and realized what those words mean to a 7 year old. She’s not in trouble. I’m in trouble. A basic rule for teachers is “know your audience”. I completely blew that one! Before I could soothe the wounded child, a wise 8 year-old in the group quickly jumped in and explained to her what I meant by “you’re in trouble” and then he came around to her piano and showed her the correct fingering to use.
I think I’ll just let him teach.
Stephanie Parker lives in the Atlanta area with her husband Rob. She has two grown children and three grandchildren and loves teaching and learning new things.