Well it’s that time of year again when the weather is starting to get hot, and I think about playing tennis.

I have played tennis for many years.

I first got hooked on the sport when my family lived in an apartment complex in Vicksburg. There were a couple of tennis courts at the complex, and I would often play with my brother, dad or friends.

Back then, Andre Agassi was just starting to become a popular player, and he was my favorite. I loved his electric style, long hair and flashy clothes. He brought excitement to the game of tennis, which can often be rather plain with players wearing all white. Like Agassi, I don’t have the hair I once had.

I remember when I was a kid I had an Andre Agassi T-shirt, and it said, “Hit the ball as loud as you can.”

I never did get to see Agassi play in person, but I did get to see several other high-profile players in action when my family went to the pro tennis tournament in Memphis. I even patted Pete Sampras on the back and told him to have a good match.

Another player I used to enjoy watching a lot was John McEnroe. His fiery attitude on the court made for many entertaining matches. Sometimes it seemed as though McEnroe’s playing improved the angrier he got.

Tennis can be a frustrating game. Fortunately, I don’t get as upset as I used to when I play tennis. I used to be pretty hard on myself when I missed a shot or two. Unlike McEnroe, my playing ability went down the more frustrated I became.

 One time I was on the front page of the Vicksburg Post sports section hitting a shot. Unfortunately, I lost that match 6-0, 6-0 because I was playing the number one player in the state. Even though I got smashed in that match I think I played rather well. I always found that I played better tennis when I was matched up against someone who was a far superior player.

Even though tennis has been frustrating at times, I would say that it has been a good thing in my life overall. As a child I have fond memories of going to Tiger Tennis Camp at LSU with friends. During the summer my friends and I would spend countless hours at the tennis courts in Vicksburg.

One of the best things about tennis is that it is called “the sport of a lifetime” because you can play into advancing years of life. It is a great way to stay in shape, be competitive, have fun and socialize. When I moved to a town in Missouri and did not know anybody, tennis provided the perfect outlet to meet people. The people I met on the court became good friends.

I look forward to making friends on the New Albany tennis courts as well.

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