The Tennis Curmudgeon


My beloved bride came home with a gift of ‘cans’ of tennis balls. I accepted them as graciously as I could which she accepted with,

“Get over it!” A refrain I heard for not the first nor last time.

It’s not that I wasn’t ecstatic to have more balls, it’s that I could see them. There’s something inherently wrong with that. Don’t get me started on being able to squeeze the ‘can’ and touch them. That’s just sixteen shades of wrong.

There’s something under whelming about popping the top and hearing ffff. That’s not pressurized! Back when tennis ball cans were CANS you knew they were under pressure! You’d pry open a can with a key, if you were lucky not to lose it, and the first gush of air might take your breath away!

Even when they modernized to flip tops you could tell who was pulling out new balls three courts away! Now-a-days you’re hardly aware you’re cracking one open. And new balls demand attention, damn it! It proves you’re serious! Not some hacker who pulled balls from the dog house.

And the smell! It was like waking up to a 4-star breakfast at Wimbledon. The way the scent drains out now it’s like a granola bar in a subway going to the Newark Open. Oh, it gets the job done but it’s not memorable.

I know what you’re going to say, ‘It’s the same ball, you dumb coot.’ You have a point but, I’d like to say, don’t front me, ya little bastard! I’m not too old to drill you one in an unmentionable place!

But it was better. Maybe because the balls were hidden. Maybe because when you emptied the can and tossed it aside it clanged that play was about to commence. It could be that, even after the can released it’s precious cargo, it was still useful. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sipped lukewarm garden hose water from a can.

There’s no way I’d drink out of one of today’s ‘cans.’ Firstly, if you asked someone to use their garden hose they’d call the CDC and next thing you know there’s a hazmat team pumping your stomach.

Then there’s the ‘cans’. Who knows what they’re were recycled from! I’m not willing to take a chance that it was once grannies potty.

I’m not saying old tennis cans were perfect. The biggest problem being when you’d lose the opening key. I can’t tell you how many groans that’s caused. But, even that turned into a spectacle. What we’d do is rear up and throw the can to the ground with all our might. And it became the 4th of July! Balls blasting skyward in a majestic display opening another wondrous day playing tennis.

It’s was just a better time to be a tennis ball. Hell, even the advertising was better.

‘Til next time, may your forehands land deep and your backhands full of pace,



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