Sunday, June 6, 2010

My Brief Stint as a Tennis Pro

 Being on the varsity tennis team in college, I volunteered myself as a student assistant for some instructors in tennis P.E. classes at the University of the Philippines and that is where I honed my teaching skills for beginners. Students started out facing the outside wall of the campus gymnasium which was used as a huge backboard while learning the basic strokes of the game: forehand, backhand, and serve. Turn slightly sideways, time the arrival of the ball, swing the racket through the ball in an arcing upward motion, and follow through with the swing. While doing all that, you transfer your weight from the rear leg to the front leg with your knees slightly bent. Imagine if you were the student trying to remember all those instructions in an attempt to do one basic stroke. By the time they process all that information, the ball would have passed them. Tennis fundamentals are difficult initially but when you learn it properly at the start you are able to improve quickly the rest of the way.
                While assisting in college, I also had a couple of clients for private lessons which I charged twenty pesos an hour and that helped a lot in supplementing my meager allowance.
                After graduating, my first job was teaching tennis in a summer recreation program for employees of a major pharmaceutical company. When I received my paycheck at the end of the program, the first thing I bought was a skateboard which I never learned to ride. If I remember correctly, I still had a couple of students for private tennis lessons at the time. I stopped teaching the sport when I got a job at a health club as a fitness trainer. A year after that I moved to the U.S., played tennis in a few parks for a couple of years, then stopped playing the game altogether.
Then there was this travelling tournament sponsored by Marlboro cigarettes in the Philippines. One summer while I was visiting my parents in Zamboanga City, the tournament was held there and I played in it. I was eliminated in the first round by the man who coached me when I was still learning the game in high school. I got 50 pesos for losing in the first round.
So there you go. No remarkable tennis past in my life, but it was a sport that I loved playing. I limit my tennis to an occasional Nintendo WII game nowadays.

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