Wimbledon. French Open. Roger’s Cup.
These tennis events are synonymous with the best of what the sport has to offer: tough competition, drama on (and off) the court, and athletic prowess. As always, though, it is among the ranks of amateurs playing out of the spotlight where the real action takes place!
This is where the co-ed Pagmetchen series comes in [Pag = Pagnutti and Metchen = Metcalfe-Chenail]. There may only be two players involved, but they are pitted against each other in an on-going, life-or-death battle!
Since 2001 Doug and I have played tennis against each as soon as the weather warms up and the snow melts from the courts. That first summer, he was miles better than I was so I got the two-bounce rule (i.e. I couldn’t get to the ball fast enough and so was allowed to let the ball bounce twice before hitting it. Yes, it was probably wussy-girly of me but I don’t care – it was the only way I could stay in the game). By our second season, that rule was changed and I had to learn how to get my butt to the ball in time. Doug figured out if he did a drop shot over the net I couldn’t get to it and there was a lot of red-faced cursing on my part and unadulterated glee on his. To gain an advantage, I sacrificed a goat. When that didn’t work, I put a laxative in his OJ (just kidding – but I did think of it!).
From 2003 to 2005 I was always really weak at the beginning of the season and then we would slowly become more evenly matched. I realized that if I kept putting nice, boring shots over the net eventually he would try and get fancy … and then screw up. I was not as fit or as strong as him, but I could strategize. Then in 2006 I got really tricky and signed up for tennis lessons at UBC. The game was on.
Last summer both of us were in horrible shape and in an effort to smoke me at the beginning of the 2007 season, Doug threw his back out. Not only did I lose the game, but I lost my 25-year-old husband for a whole weekend. Who was this 90-year-old man in my bed who had trouble getting up to go to the bathroom?? With our theses, my travelling back and forth to Ottawa, and the small number of free courts in Kerrisdale the season was short. Also, I didn’t want to have to get Doug a bedpan for the whole summer so I thought we’d better take it easy!
Now another season has begun in earnest. The first two matches were played in downtown Toronto. My pre-season workouts have really upped my fitness level and now it is Doug that is huffing and puffing. The first match Doug won 6-3: both sides were pretty awkward and just getting back into the swing of things. The second match we went to deuce almost every game but Doug still won 6-4 (but immediately went home for a nap).
The last two matches have been in Ottawa. #3 went all the way to tie-breaker (after which we both went home for a nap). Yesterday, we played two matches and I was sure that it was all building toward a glorious finale with me as winner, which is how it would have happened in Hollywood. But alas, that is not how it went down. Instead, he fairly whomped me on the first game and then I should have won the second, but somehow didn’t. I think I left my killer instinct in my other purse yesterday morning.
The next round of matches will be played in St-Emile-de-Suffolk (Que.) on what we have fondly dubbed the “ghetto courts.” This will be old-school tennis on an asphalt surface with pot holes the size of P.E.I. There is a very good chance a group of locals will come to watch the out-of-town yuppy fools run after a little pink tennis ball. They will smoke, they will spit, and yes, they will mock us.
But what they don’t realize is what is on the line when one competes in the Pagmetchen Series. There may not be a cash prize, international glory, or even a trophy but nothing feels better than putting one’s thumb to one’s nose, waving one’s fingers and getting to go “nananabooboo” to one’s spouse while doing a victory dance.