This question comes from T. Stradlater from New Caanan, wherever this is. I was once at the old Caanan, in the holy land, as I learned to make falafel there from a mystic named Isam, but the new one, I not knowing this.
“Dear Zamboni, how can I improve my tennis game, I hit hard, but I keep losing to guys twice my age, and I am forty- it’s embarrassing.”
Yes Stradlater, I know how you feel, and of course I can help, as always, most completely and irretrievably with abundant wisdom.
Tennis is an interesting game, and like all great sports, not really a “game” at all but a mirror up to us as humans. In tennis, you must keep your eye on the ball, but that most important moment of contact with the racket- that fraction of a second is where we can’t see it. The moment of faith- yes! And of course, while you play you cannot catalogue all the different techniques you have learned: moving your hips with your swing, following all the way through, stepping into the swing, no. While you play you must forget all this and be in the moment, anticipating what your opponent will do and how you will respond. Miles Davis is not thinking octaves and technique when he plays. He feeling music and thinking of hitting bar after.
My friend Jordan had this problem of losing to 80 year olds at the neighborhood park. I even saw it once, a well dressed gentleman named George in white Lacoste who stood glued to one spot and still finished victorious. But because I, Zambonesman, know how to not merely watch, but see, I noticed that this man’s edge was mental. He knew where to hit the ball, he placed the ball where he wanted, tiring out the younger Jordan very quickly. See, power, as in many pursuits, is trumped by the mental. Plus, this George no longer had power, but he was using what he did have, precision. Mohammed Ali was not as strong as Foreman in the Rumble in the Jungle- but he won with strategy. I informed my friend of this, and once he learned to do less, and place the ball accurately, he beat this octogenarian handily, and others not so ancient.
What was I saying? Yes, tennis, you Stradlater must take the mental edge, forget your strength and watch the other person, do they get tired by the fifth game? Then make them run, etc. Hit hard when you need to only.
Remember, the way we do one thing is the way we do all things. Jordan would very quickly expend his energy, and not last for two sets. He adjust game, and now is better on court and with ladies. Actually, just on court but he have hope.
….Ali takes Foreman’s punches for eight rounds, people are baffled by his inaction, then…
See, the real wisdom is you let the other guy beat himself…