I was been fortunate enough to be part of two regional high school tennis events over the past two weekends. It was interesting driving over three hours from Louisville, KY to Edwardsville, IL. I remember thinking that road trips in baseball lead to playing in ballparks with different dimensions and that every golf course is different. So a tennis road trip made sense from a competition standpoint, but that the courts would be exactly the same.
Tennis courts, like basketball courts, share the same dimensions allowing players to plug and play when on the road
I discovered that this had some upsides as well. We hopped out of our vehicles and within 10-minutes our players were warming up just like they would do on our school’s courts. In Edwardsville, we played schools from Missouri, Illinois, and Oklahoma. Leg-weariness from vehicles can quickly be eliminated by simply running and hitting during warm-ups.
The common dimensions of tennis also reminded me of my favorite tennis quote that Pancho Segura relayed to Joel Drucker:
“People don’t get it,” Segura told me more than 20 years ago. “They think that because tennis is played at these clubs that it’s a rich man’s sport. But it doesn’t take more than a racquet and a heart to play this game. That’s the great thing about a sport like tennis. It’s a great test of democracy in action. Me and you, man, in the arena. Just me and you, baby. Doesn’t matter how much money you have, or who your dad is, or if you went to Harvard, Yale, or whatever. Just me and you.”
Tennis players meet on a court and whatever game they have developed gets to be put to the test against whatever game someone else has developed whether that opponent lives next door or from the next continent. I saw this play out in both Edwardsville, IL on outdoor and indoor courts due to rain.* I also saw it play out on indoor and outdoor courts in Chattanooga, TN at McCallie High School’s incredible tennis facility.
*Playing in Southern Illinois also brought to mind David Foster Wallace’s 1991 piece in Harper’s: Tennis, Trigonometry, Tornadoes: A Midwestern Boyhood.