Memories of Premarital Tennis

I have fond memories of playing tennis with my husband before we were married. I have not-so-fond memories of playing tennis after we got married. Marriage changes everything, even tennis.

I’ve talked with girlfriends who play tennis, or used to play tennis, and they’ve had similar experiences after getting married. Who knows why things change like this? Let’s not even go there.  They just do.

Frank and I met in a tennis club for singles. Frank was very chivalrous when we were dating, and that extended to tennis. He was much better than me, rated Men’s-A tournament level in our club. I was a Women’s-C. We only played together informally, with friends. Back then Frank was unconcerned about whether we won or lost. We just had fun.

Then we got married, and things changed. After we lost a match he would say things like “You need to work on your serve” or “You need to practice your volley” or “You’ve got a weak slam.” We’d go out during the week and he’d feed me volleys to return as slams, or coach me on my serve, or feed me fast and corner balls to return. We drilled and drilled. He wanted to win his doubles matches.

With the pressure on, tennis became just one more stress on top of my busy life as a working mother. Eventually I quit playing. Frank practiced some weekday evenings and played every Sunday. I alternated between hiking and going to movies on Sunday. On movie days I went to a little theatre that was next to a coffee shop, and after the movie I’d treat myself to a guilty pleasure—espresso and a luscious gelato. In solitary splendor, I enjoyed myself immensely.  

Then Frank broke his metatarsal bone running down a tennis ball, when he was 65. It was quite painful and he wore a big knee-high boot for two months and did physical therapy for a long time after that. He never went back to tennis. He felt the foot was a weak link and susceptible to re-injury at his age. He gave his huge bag of beat-up practice balls to a friend who has a lovable Yorkshire terrier named Maggie.

Now Frank and I go to the movies nearly every Sunday. We both enjoy them. No one competes, no one loses, no one screws up. We laugh and we cry. We have animated, enjoyable discussions of the film afterwards over a nice dinner. We both win. So far the score is Love-Love. Actually, Love-Love-Love. Maggie adores her tennis balls.


A minor injury can spice up your life.


My husband Frank fractured the metatarsal bone in his foot playing tennis. He wore a stiff knee-high boot for ten weeks, which made it very difficult to get around. When the boot came off he had to do physical therapy with an exercise band for a long time and his foot was sore and sensitive for months.

Frank was 75, and after much thought he stopped playing tennis. The bone was a weak link, and he didn’t want to re-injure it. He might get carried away running down a ball and do just that. So we began to do things together, which before the injury only happened on Sundays because all he did on the other days was play tennis. We started going to movies, and after showing zero interest in them before, he now has a long list of movies he wants to see, old ones and new ones. He also made a kite, like the ones he made as a boy, and in good weather we go to a bayland field and he flies his kite while I read or walk around the field. We go for walks, which we never used to do, and he even goes to the mall with me on the rare occasion. Two or three afternoons a week we go to Starbucks for coffee.

I’m really enjoying our outings. I think Frank is too. His list of must-see movies gets longer. And his tastes are changing. He used to only tolerate guy movies, and I never thought it possible that he would even go to see a musical, much less enjoy one. But he loved Into the Woods. I love Meryl Streep, and now Frank does too. He has to see every Meryl Streep movie there is. Who is this man? Whoever he is, I’m enjoying our new life together. I’ll just come right out and admit it: I’m glad Frank fractured his metatarsal. Just don’t tell him I said that.