I played tennis yesterday! I think that's probably the first time in say... a year? Maybe not quite; I know Erik and I played some in Chicago last summer, but anyway, a long time. I'm actually pretty sore today, which is weird because tennis isn't really a sport that requires using a whole lot of muscle. I guess I was actually hitting the ball pretty well after I got warmed up a bit. I played with the 6th grade teacher, who's not bad. At first we just hit the ball around for a while, so I could get the feel for it again. The major issues are twain: I don't have my racket here, so that makes it rough. I haven't hit with any other since I bought that one, sometime in the 90's, I think. Each racket has its own feel that you have to find... sweet spot, tension, length, weight, handle thickness, everything. Which all affects how hard you can swing, how much spin you can put on the ball, how the ball flies coming off the strings. But anyway... the 2nd issue is the court. They play on clay here! Which is cool, don't get me wrong. I love watching the pros slide around Roland Garros at the French Open. But damn is it tough to play on. It's basically just heavy, manicured dirt... which makes it um, dirty to play on (obvious enough for ya? ha...). But more importantly, it requires completely different footwork. Which I've never learned.
When you play on hardcourts, which is probably 99.5% of the time in the US (I've seen a clay court, but I don't remember where), it's really easy to stop and start, push off, change directions, all that stuff. The courts have a bit of texture that give you a lot of grip... so it's a pretty simple matter to get around the court. On clay, however, the key component of good footwork is the slide. Instead of running through the shot, hitting it, and then stopping and getting back into position, you take away that last step before impact and turn it into a slide. You use that momentum (instead of the step) to hit the shot, and then finish the slide before pushing off to go the other direction. Well, that's the theory anyway, but it's not an easy thing to pull off, especially when you're so used to taking that final step before the swing. And thinking about where you want to hit the shot. And where your opponent is, and where he's going, and what direction the wind is blowing, and everything else. So yeah... we'll see how it goes.
The first set I think I double-faulted probably 15 times... maybe more. Serve just wasn't working, and I lost 6-2. Although I did have one game with 3 aces... I just kept alternating between ace and double fault, which doesn't add up to success. The second set I won 6-4, and I was finally finding my groove a bit, on the second serve at least. I was really just trying to "spin it in," as they say, but even that's rough when you keep hitting the ball with everything but the middle of the racket. I did manage to catch one clean on the top of the frame -- hit it directly up in the air, probably a good 40 feet, and it landed about 8 inches from my right foot. Uh, yeah. Fault.
The reason this all matters is that I apparently volunteered to help represent our school in a tennis tournament in Icheon next Wednesday. I get to leave school early and go to some high school to play against other elementary school teachers. When they initially asked me if I wanted to play, it sounded like a friendly little match between the teachers at our school. So sure! Count me in. Only yesterday did I found out that it's sort of a big deal. Hm... well, wish me luck! I've got time to get a few more practice sessions in, I think, but I'm a little worried about the thumb blister that both developed and ripped open on the same shot last night. So now I've got a pretty substantial piece of thumb-skin missing... but whatcha gonna do? I've had worse, that's for sure. It was funny at lunch today -- my forearm muscles were so tender I could barely hold the chopsticks to eat. I kept dropping food everywhere. Well, not everywhere -- I mean, not on the floor or other people or anything. Just mostly back onto the tray/other food. But yeah, it was still fairly amusing. Just picture the first primates trying to use tools, and you'll have an idea of how well lunch went.
And that's my story for the day. My extra classes were... meh. So-so. Could've been worse. I finally got the textbooks that I ordered. The ones for the younger kids are fine, but I severely overestimated my "advanced" class's level of advanced-ness. So now I've gotta backtrack and fill in a bunch of gaps just to get them to the point where we can actually use the books. Oopsie. On the plus side, at least I have an idea what they need to be learning, so I have some direction for my classes from now on.
I need to fold laundry and I'm not in the mood. I think it's gonna stay hanging up on the "terrace" for another day. Why do it now when there's always tomorrow, right? Also, my ethernet cord is broken -- not the cord, but the little latch that keeps it in the computer. I've got it rigged up now with the lanyard I use for my thumb drives, but it keeps slipping out. My friend Laura is leaving in a couple weeks to go back home, and I think she's gonna give me her wireless router, so hopefully I can just plug that in and not have to worry about it anymore. And finally -- what a great week for my sports teams! Cardinals off to a 6-2 start, Pujols knocking the cover off the ball, Carpenter and Lohse pitching lights out! Blues went on a tear the last 2 months to move into the 6th seed in the playoffs! And the Bulls, coincidentally, went on a tear the last month or so behind Rookie of the Year Derrick Rose to move into (for now at least) the 6th seed in the playoffs! One more win, hope Boston and/or Cleveland TCOB against the 6ers and we've got a shot at an injury-ridden Orlando team and maybe making it out of the first round! Whoo-ee! Oh, and the Cubs suck. =)
OK -- that ended up being a much longer entry than I had originally planned, so I'm cutting it off here. Hasta luego!