Old school.

Dear friends,

It was a beautiful day yesterday. Sunny, blue skies, 68 degrees.

SweetPea loves tennis as much as I do.

SweetPea and I spent the afternoon and evening at the tennis courts watching Parker play. No dogs are allowed at the courts. I guess nobody told SweetPea and she couldn’t read the sign.

We had a great time eating the finger sandwiches I made and chatting with the parents and rooting for our team, who lost by the way. But Parker and his partner won their doubles match in a tie-break — the last match and only win of the day. They were heros at the very last moment.

Parker got two “Gatorades.” (It’s a tradition with the team. If you hit an overhead hard enough for it to bounce over the fence, which is kind of humiliating to the opponent, the fans yell “Gatorade!” and the coach owes you a bottle.)

The opposing coach was an interesting fellow. He was, shall we say, a little high strung. A squat man in shorts and a windbreaker, he was fond of screaming at his players about things like scorecards and the number of balls being used during warm-up. He also got a little wound up about how the players were announcing their scores and, at one point, he stormed on the court during Parker’s match to yell at his kid about it. (A real no-no, but our coach was a gentleman.) I was a little annoyed but I kept my cool and simply shouted “Way to keep score Parker!” after every point he won thereafter.

On another point, Parker aced his opponent on a low-skidding serve that flew wide. It was a beautiful first serve, and there was no shame in missing the return, but the coach yelled at his kid “You could have gotten it if you’d lunged!”

It  was so ludicrous it made me laugh out loud. Mr. Mom just called the coach “old school.” I’ll have to get used to that approach, I think, because  Mr. Mom said the same thing about the college tennis coach who’ll be welcoming Kate in the fall.

Until then, here’s to a beautiful spring and summer chock full of afternoons at the tennis court.

With gratitude {for spirited competition and fun all around, win or lose},

Joan, who, at 6-ft. tall, is a monster at the net

Love is in the air.

Dear friends,

Tennis season started yesterday for our high school boys. We’re a tennis-loving family, so we couldn’t be more excited to see this important spring milestone arrive.

That's Parker serving and his partner at the net.

Parker made the varsity team. He’s playing in the #4 singles spot and the #2 doubles spot — and fighting hard to move his way up. That kind of competition is good for all the players, as well as our team.

Mr. Mom loves tennis, too, especially now that he’s not coaching. He coached both Parker’s and Kate’s tennis teams in our former town. He enjoyed it, but he’s glad he’s no longer responsible for being a dad and a coach to kids who can’t always make the distinction between the two. He delights in sitting courtside and watching a match unfold with no responsibility for its outcome or his child’s performance.

Kate is serving as the boys’ team manager. (She played the #1 spot on the girls’ team during the ladies’ season, which happens in the fall in our new state.) She’s excited that she could play in the fall and manage in the spring — which includes the opportunity to hit with the boys — to keep her tennis skills sharp between now and when she joins the tennis team at her college. The great news for me is that I get regular text updates and photos because she travels with the team.

One of the things I have most appreciated since our move is the regular opportunity to attend my children’s tennis matches. The long commute I endured in our former home made it all but impossible to see many matches. In our new town, the high school tennis courts are so close to my office I could walk there if I wanted. And I have the scheduling flexibility to slip out of the office and attend many of the matches.

Plus, tennis is a much bigger deal in our new town. It was rare for a parent to attend matches in our former home, but not here. We have a booster group that provides food and beverages to the players and families, so the competitions are a social outing as well as a sporting event. I know this is nothing new for many sports — football and basketball have long enjoyed that kind of parental support at many schools.  But it has been rare in my family’s tennis experience, so I’m savoring every moment with my kids and every opportunity to become a part of our school community.

By the way, Parker won his singles match today 8-0, giving new meaning to the phrase “love is in the air.” He and his partner won their doubles match 8-4. Those two wins helped his team cinch the competition 6-3, which is a great way to kick off the season.

With gratitude {for kids who love tennis as much as I do and who play it far better},

Joan, who is crazy enough about tennis that she 0nce played four matches on a July day where court temperatures exceeded 110 degrees, which she learned is hot enough to melt the polish on pedicured toenails and fuse them to cotton socks