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IN WHICH I AM GRATEFUL TO MY TENNIS COACH

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...and also to Chris Evert.

I began life as a natural southpaw, but it’s a right-handed world out there, folks, so I gradually changed, although I still use my left hand for many tasks.

But when I started playing tennis I was a source of great frustration to my coach. My natural response to any ball coming down the court on my left was to swap the racquet to my left hand. This was completely alien to my coach and no amount of coaxing or yelling made any difference. I simply “didn’t get it.”

Realising I was just going to continue playing a left-or-right forehand, Maui devised a system to force me to play the backhand shot. He’d stand behind me,holding my left arm down while someone fired balls down the court.

I was about 10 at the time and never a serious Cup contender, but boy! Did I develop a demon backhand! I never really enjoyed playing at the net; I found it easier to play from the base line and only come up to the net for weak returns. My “killer” stroke was a sneaky little backhand chip which just cleared the net and dropped. Dead. Not the chance of a snowball in Hell of playing that baby!

Well, life offered all sorts of different experiences and I didn’t play much tennis for a long time, but the backhand had stayed with me.

https://i2.wp.com/www.tennis.com/uploadedImages/Editorial/40_Greatest_Players/2006_04_14_evert.jpg

And then a young lass called Chris Evert showed up and her game was a breath of fresh air on the circuit. For one thing, she was a serious base-line player and when you hit from that far back, you’d better be strong. But what everyone noticed and what many players adopted was her two-fisted backhand.

At first, it looked awkward to me, probably as awkward as I’d looked to Maui, all those years ago! But I tried it one day in a social doubles game. My first shot was not particularly good, but the grip felt right and soon, I was slogging balls the length of the court. And with considerable power, I might add.

Why have I told you this tale? Well, yesterday I made a start on thinning the banana palms. Something that should have been done ages ago. Ye gods! They are taking over the back corner of the garden and some of the stems are almost a foot (300mm) thick. Ah, but with my demon backhand and a really sharp machete it was game,set and match to Dinah.

I can see the fence again! Now for the lemon tree…

I can hear one or two people in the Frozen North calling for more tropical garden pictures. Am I right? OK.

Four years ago, I planted a Cananga odorata at the front steps. I like to welcome people with fragrant flowers and this is the tree whose fragrance is used in ylang ylang perfume. Heady, redolant of
Somerset Maugham romances. Well, no, actually. Stupid tree drops spindly little branches all the time and even now that it’s flowering at last, I can’t detect any thing even remotely romantic. And you have to crane your neck to see much. Perhaps next year it will do better…

Meanwhile, I am dead chuffed to have flowers on the Dichorisandra thyrsifolia which, although I’d grown it in Brisbane, refused to bloom for me here. But Denise (the rainbow basket lady) gave me some cuttings from her garden and they are flowering! It’s such an intense blue it shines like a beacon, even in the shade. No perfume, but a knock-out colour!



And while I was beavering away, where were my two little shadows? Tethered to a garden hose!
Still not greatly impressed at being harnessed, but it’s for their own safety. ” Yeah, right! Let’s see how you like being tied up, lady!” (Sporran in the pink (sissy!) and Geiger sporting Royal Blue.(also sissy, woman!)

I think the bar is about to open…Ciao!


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Author: dinahmow

A New Zealander, currently living in tropical Queensland,Australia (with 2 cats and one Main Man).Old enough to remember George VI, white tennis balls and life-before-television.You want more? Read the blog!

14 thoughts on “IN WHICH I AM GRATEFUL TO MY TENNIS COACH

  1. I remember the fuss mande of Chris Evert’s double-fisted backhand. Left hand = right brain? I believe there’s a measure of truth to that. I am right handed but have many characteristics of a left-handed person so I believe there’s overlap. And my backhand was always stronger than my forehand!

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  2. Being from the frozen north, I love your tropical pictures.
    Being male, I love your Chrissie Evert picture because I used to have a big crush on her.

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  3. I rather like a bit of a whack… I’m talking about tennis. Rather fun. Your garden looks gorgeous. I wish I had a machete. And a garden. My garden is a concrete yard with a few bits of sandy earth around the edges.

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  4. Geez, you look a lot like Chris Evert! I’d love to see that left-handed shot, which wouldn’t be a back-hand, would it?

    OK, the backhand, then. I dunno, tennis has never really excited me, altho I’d love to play you, with a 10-point spot.

    Could that be arranged?

    And those palm trees and all…it’s enough to drive a Northern lad nutso.

    Although I do fear Stace a bit now…

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  5. Mrs P was a county tennis player (now you know where you’d heard her name before!) and also has a serious backhand – her forehand isn’t bad either and her uppercut is pretty good as well!
    Love your garden. It’s hard enough to grow bloody carrots here, let alone bananas! Don’t you get little, eight-legged nasties which can kill you by just looking at you, though?

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  6. Standing in 4 inches of icy slush, your palms (trees that it) make me drool with envy. Great tennis story. My first sport icon as a (very unsporty)kid was Chris Evert, I practised for hours but never improved then moved on to ping-pong to heal my shattered self-esteem. It’s good you appreciate that machete swinging arm of yours.

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  7. WW – you shouldn’t, not really… much… often… 🙂 Although I’ve been told I’m pretty scary when I’m really angry. Fortunately that doesn’t happen very often.

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  8. I’m just relieved I can see the fence now!

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  9. I was never real good at tennis, but I did try hard to learn the game.
    The babies look like they have grown so much!!!
    Hope you are having a good new year!

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  10. because this infernal contraption has been back in the repair shop, I’me ‘way behind on responses so, to all of you…thanks for reading
    Andrea…the boffins say there’s no correlation, but talk to an imbidextrous person and you’ll likely get another answer.

    ian…you and all the boys at Wimbledon!

    stace…get a couple of big pots with something tough, like bamboo and have an instant “garden.”

    ww…Funnily enough, I couldn’t now hit with any accuracy using my left hand only.And age and arthritis has weakened me somewhat so you’d probably win!

    reg…you mean spiders? Around here, just harmless ones.And some really pretty ones.

    gws…ping pong. Ooh yes! Used to be quite good at that, but the 7 year old across the road will probably take me to the cleaners.

    fn…so am I!

    heather…yes, a good start, discounting the ##!*&(!! computer.

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  11. I have big plans for a fernery/rockery thing in the next place I live in, if I can. Not much point doing it here, since I’ll be moving out in a couple of months… but yes, wonders can be worked with pots! (not pot)

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  12. I like the lead in from Tennis tips to machete wielding banana tree chopping. That was perfect!

    The tropics are so far removed from Colorado, sigh…

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  13. ziggi…thankyou

    cynthia…thankyou,too

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