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2003-02-05 - 11:34 a.m.

Private Lesson

This year for Valentine's Day The Scientist is giving me two private tennis lessons. I had the first one, with J., a pro who runs a weekly group lesson for my summer USTA team, on Monday (I guess something interesting did happen this week). A private lesson is just what it sounds like--typically a one hour one-on-one lesson with a pro. Not only was this my first private with J., it was my first one ever.

I always thought that private lessons were the domain of the Ladies Who Lunch--women who can play daytime tennis because they don't work. Often their husbands are cardiologists or investment bankers. They often wear large diamond jewelry. They can afford the $50 an hour, $75 an hour, or $100 an hour for a good pro's time. I cannot.

But it's become clear to me from recent critiques that if I want to move up another level I'm going to have to fix some things in my game, namely my forehand (get some topspin), my volley grips (improving on my own so far), and my serve (needs work). So it seemed like a good investment to spend some time to fix what I can sooner rather than later and The Scientist liked the idea of lessons as my gift.

My first lesson with J. was great. He brought out a funky contraption to help demonstrate what topsin is (how the ball should spin when you hit it correctly). The contraption is a ball mounted on a stick in such a way that it can spin. My job was to hit the ball (not that hard, but with some pace) while J. held the stick and make the ball spin properly for a topspin shot. It's harder than it sounds, but it was useful to help me see the cause and result and what it actually means when someone (i.e., one of the pros) says, "low to high" or "brush up on the ball."

We then worked on my stroke, and I learned how to turn my body, where to put my left hand/arm, and how to swing my right arm (there's supposed to be a follow-through involved, which I'm not very good at remembering). Lastly, we put it all into practice, actually hitting balls, first from the service line (up close to the net), then gradually moving back until J. and I were hitting groundstrokes to each other. It was quite a workout and I learned a lot. Now I just have to see if I can actually get it right when I play.

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