I'm not sure why I keep saying yes, but today was the fourth time this year I've agreed to play early Saturday morning tennis with some teammates from my USTA doubles league. I must really love the game, because during the week I often have nightmares about seeing something like this on the weekends:
Seeing "5:" with an "AM" anywhere near it sends a chill down my spine every time. Giving up one the week's two precious, alarm-free mornings is a huge sacrifice, especially in the winter. When it's dark, snowing, and freezing cold outside, finding the motivation to climb out from under the covers is no easy task. And once I make my way out of bed and drive to the courts, climbing out of the heated car is worse than a punch in the stomach.
So why do I keep saying yes? I need to take advantage of every practice opportunity that comes my way. Since the USTA fall league ended last November, I've managed to play a whopping five times, and my tennis game is quickly developing more rust than the Malibu. And I figure I better take advantage of all the guest passes and semi-reasonably priced indoor court I can get my hands on these days, because Lifetime Fitness is rapidly heading down a path toward keeping all but it's highest-paying members off the tennis courts.
Lifetime seems to have taken a page out of the fee-charging playbooks of the airline and banking industries, finding new ways to charge non-Platinum members absurd guest/court/towel/net/water/parking/lighting/sign-in/locker fees. (I exaggerate, but it's getting to the point where it would cost less to build my own court than to pay Lifetime's fees a few times a month...but that's another blog post for another day...)
Practice is good--and much-needed--but early morning tennis hardly offers the ideal practice environment when the quality of play is so much lower than it would be if we'd just play in the afternoon. It's tough to play focused, aggressive tennis when I spend 50% of my effort trying not to get hit in the face or crotch and the other 50% hoping I don't make a complete fool of myself in my groggy, zombie-like state.
But for a 7AM start time, today wasn't that bad. The quality of play was still low, but the opponents seemed to be every bit as tired as I was, and we somehow pulled out the win. More importantly, my face and crotch are still intact, I didn't embarrass myself too badly, and I somehow avoided the bonus $15 fee that Lifetime charged one of my opponents because he'd signed in as a guest within the last thirty days. A little luck never hurts at 7AM on a Saturday morning. And after a lengthy nap this afternoon, I'm feeling as good as new.