When the summer breezes begin to blow, they never fail to whisper “tennis” in my ear. I can’t wait for the first warm days, when I can grab my racket and bounce the luminous green ball on the deep sky blue of the court. The sunshine makes my ‘older than the hills’ game seem crisp and new, the boundary lines are fat and white, my shots spin and pop off the racket, my footwork is spry and hopeful. As I look forward to the upcoming season, I can’t stop thinking “I will be a beast this year!”
I also love the big tennis tournaments that are broadcast on major television networks – the French, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. I follow tennis players like teens follow pop stars – what are the popular shots this year? How are they conditioning? And, most important -what are they wearing?!! Yep, I have been a devout student of the game since I was fourteen years old, it’s in my DNA.
I especially love the French Open which is taking place now. The French is extra fun to watch because the clay surface is like a crumbly, chocolate, graham cracker crust. Players can chase after a ball and then finish with a graceful slide or dramatic chasse. On this type of surface, the athleticism of tennis closely resembles dance, with a little bit of the food network thrown in!
Maria Sharapova is a French Open favorite. Having won the tournament two times, she is the defending women’s champion this year. Recently, I stumbled upon this quote of hers, and for some reason it has stuck in my mind…
I don’t follow other players or the tournaments they play. I have my own schedule and do my own thing. I never really think, ‘Oh, I want to be or play like so-and -so.’ I just like being myself. -Maria Sharapova
When I first started playing tennis as a nerdy kid in grammar school, I would make a monthly schedule of shots I wanted to practice and learn. I would include days for serving, days for conditioning and days for whatever strategies Billie Jean King and Chrissie Evert were using. This helped me focus on specifics and kept my practices from getting boring. (What can I say? I was a nerd then and I am still *proudly* one today.) Eventually, I evolved into finding my own game. The schedule helped me find my own rhythm and kept me committed. It reinforced “my thing” and I was the boss.
With summer about to open its big wide door of extra time, this is the perfect moment to make a walking schedule. Find a weekly chart and write in times and types of walks you would like to do. In this way, walking becomes a priority, “your thing that you do for you, your way.” Take a moment to creatively plan for a variety of short, long, beach, interval, park, neighborhood, lunch time, after dinner, meet a friend type of walks to alleviate any boredom in the routine. Be your own personal trainer!