November 7, 2010

Why I Love Playing Tennis Indoors

Andy Roddick, Roger Federer and a bunch of other ATP guys are in Basel, Switzerland right now playing in the Davidoff Swiss Indoors tournament.

And guess what? I played an indoor match today too! Me indoors . . . Roddick and Federer indoors . . . mere coincidence? Or some kind of strange tennis destiny. You decide.

In the meantime, I was thinking how much I love playing on indoor courts.  Because when you're scheduled to play indoors, you know you're going to play!  You never have to worry about the weather.  Or the sun. Or the wind. Or the lawn care guys blowing leaves. Or little kids walking by the court going, "Hey lady!"  (Yes, it happened.)

But when I first joined my indoor team, I wasn't too crazy about being indoors.  It was always too loud. Or too echo-y.  Or too air-condition-y.  Or too weirdly lit (I can go on and on with this stuff.  Just see the post Top Excuses For Losing In Tennis.)

So there are a few things to watch out for when playing indoors.  Here's the list I've come up with:

1. Court Surface - Not all indoor courts are "hard" courts.  They may be made with a softer material that results in a slower or lower-bouncing ball.  You may know this about your own home courts (as I do since mine are like this) but it can take a few games to figure it out if you're playing a match in a new place.

2. Ceilings - Surprisingly, there is no standard indoor court ceiling.  They can be flat or pitched.  They can be solid white or have dark wooden beams running all over them.  They can have hanging light fixtures.  So you need to look up at each indoor court you play on and see what's going on.  And I mean look up before that first lob comes your way.

3.  Noise - While you may not have a small child pestering you (see above), these are often strange noises to contend with on indoor courts.  Fluorescent lights buzz.  Air conditioners switch on and off.  Bystanders are seated very close and talk very loud.  They may be watching your match, which can be intimidating, or they may be talking about their new tennis shoes, which is just rude.  Be aware of these distractions and blow them off.

4.  "Wind" Conditions - OK, so you don't have to deal with the real wind.  But I have played at a place where the air conditioners were hung over one end of the court and blew on me every time I served.  This is exactly the kind of stupid thing that bothers people with tennis ADD like me.  And exactly why I never serve from that end of the court whenever I have to go play there.

5.  Temperature - Amazingly, indoor courts can get pretty hot.  At my club, I think the strategy is to run the air conditioners during the winter and on major Jewish holidays.  That's the only logic I can come up with.  So don't overdress - wear layers and adjust to the temperature as you play.

6.  Players - Watch out for these indoor players.  In my experience, I feel like people who play indoors just play a different, trickier kind of tennis.  They're often older and have been playing tennis for a long, long time.  They know they can't use the outdoor elements to wear you down.  So they come up with an unending supply of spin shots, slice serves, sharp angles, short balls and perfect lobs.  I've gotten to the point where, if I have an indoor match and look over and see a couple of old ladies, I take a deep breath and try to mentally prepare myself to work my butt off.    

© Kim Selzman 2010 All Rights Reserved

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