Point of View: Bjorn Again

All one wants is a good game, whether as a player or as a spectator

Though the weather’s wretched today, I know better days are coming — sportswise too, if the close scores this week are indicative.

All one wants is a good game, whether as a player or as a spectator. This winter was rather dreary in that respect, forcing one to look for silver linings, which, being a booster rather than a ripper, I’m generally inclined to do. If losses can be said to be learning experiences, there was much that could have been learned last season. It largely comes down to what I said last week, “Practice, practice . . . practice.” 

And if it doesn’t make you perfect, at least the chances are you’ll improve, and knowing you’re improving is one of the best feelings this side of a divine apotheosis.

My grandson in Ohio, who was on the B team, has now, through persistence, made the A team. Hard work beats talent that doesn’t work hard, perhaps not every time, but enough so that we ought not to be discouraged from trying, from forever trying.

Twenty-five years ago, Gordon Carberry, a former East Hampton Town recreation director who became a triathlete in his mid-50s, told Rusty Drumm that when he was growing up, 50 or 60-year-olds were physical nonentities. They are, thanks to the popularity of physical fitness regimes for all ages, entities now, as are those who are older still. It’s as if to say, “We’re still here! We’re still in the game!”

Which, of course, brings me back to the subject of my new tennis strings, the Signum Pro Tornado ones that enable the ball to rocket from my racket even as I’m wracked by advancing years. I told Lisa during a stroke-of-the-week clinic the other day that I was awaiting the Signum Pro Tornadoes with the same fervor I had in awaiting the arrival, at age 8, of my Captain Midnight Ovaltine mug. 

Come to think of it, age 8 was a very good year, a year in which I was given autographed photos of the entire Brooklyn Dodgers team and saw Jackie Robinson steal home, a year in which my father sprang me from school to go to the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, and a year in which on some sunny Saturday mornings I’d walk up Claremont Avenue, knapsack on my back, in search of the tufted towhee. I think it was also the first time I swung a racket, thanks to our boarder, a Columbia graduate student who took me over to Barnard’s courts across the street. “The racket swung him more than he swung the racket,” he told my mother. 

Now, in the clinics, they say, “Hit it, hit it hard,” and I do. Well, the Signum Pro Tornadoes do, the balls zinging to the left and right. Patrick McEnroe deserves some of the credit. When, some years ago, he was talking up team tennis at the Sportime club here, and I was about to undergo knee surgery and feeling — for perhaps 10 minutes — a bit morose, thinking the game had passed me by, he spoke glowingly of the new technology and of how the new rackets were brightening the prospects of those who had been thinking in a similar varicose vein.

And now, Bjorn again, when they say hit it hard I do.