Poetic License: Six Days in the of Wilson One
Fffffffree at last!
For three months I’ve been compacted in this pressure packed womb, one brother pressing down, the other shoving up on me. Now that we’re out and free to go our own way, I can hardly wait to be bounced and smacked over that net and fly through this delicious air and land just inside a baseline.
Ah, easy does it now during warm-up. Close-in volleys until everyone gets loose. I love the feel of the strings on my rear. These players are really good.
Since we’re number one balls and this is court number one this must be a match between the best players. My wildest dreams have come true.
Pow! Pow! Both sides, good and hard!
One player hits me from the bottom up so that I bounce like I’m on a trampoline right over the opponent’s head and over the fence. They call it topspin and now I’m soaking on the grass while they play out the game and just when I think I’m about to drown from all this moisture, the cockeyed leftie who’s been hitting me and my brothers from the wrong side rescues me and dries me with his shirt tail – then serves me wide for an ace.
Wow! This match is really close, can’t decide who to root for.
One player keeps squeezing me and my brothers before deciding which of us to serve (as if he can tell the difference) then puts me back into his sweaty pocket every time. I hate him.
His partner, Mr. Topspin, serves me with a great American twist and punches me with real crisp volleys. His racket has a big sweet spot and he hits me with it most of the time. I love him.
On the other side, one partner pounds me like Pete Sampras, over a hundred miles an hour on his first serve but I usually land out of the box and he second serves me softer and slower than a practice ball.
His partner, the leftie, keeps driving my brothers and me crazy: we brace ourselves to be hit on one side, he hits us on the other; we get ready for a spinning backhand, he smacks us with a vicious forehand.
I guess I’ll stick to the oath of the ABA, The American Balls Association, the one they made us take before they sealed us in the can: “I swear to bounce true to the best of my ability and judgment and do no harm to or favor any player.”
Every ball’s dream is to be in play at match point.
Mr. Topspin, my first great love, is serving me for the match and my two brothers, obviously jealous, jostle in his pocket, hoping he’ll miss the first serve so that they’ll get a chance for glory but his American twist serve kicks me high and I bounce with a hiss right on the “T”, Mr. Cockeyed Leftie blocks me back crosscourt but high and Topspin puts me away with a gorgeous smash just inside the baseline and I land as hard as I can so that there will be a clear mark and Leftie and his partner, who have called me out on two occasions when I was really in, have no choice but to call me fair and admit defeat.
A glorious first day and final point. (I guess I forgot my oath, but listen, every good ball loves to get smashed once in a while, especially by the right player!)
Betrayal! What price love and loyalty! We’ve been turned over to SENIORS! I thought when Topspin put us back in the can, fondling me and putting me on top of my brothers, that he’d use us for some heavy practice games.
Who can ever understand players? I admit we lost some fuzz during the match and maybe we weren’t bouncing as high at the end but we had still had some good kicks left – most of which will now be wasted on these seniors who are a real trip.
There is not one original knee left among them, some even have new hips and shoulders and one of the players sips oxygen from a portable tank between changes. There’s one who is wrapped and taped like a mummy and another who tells time with his pacemaker. Still another can’t read our name and number and keeps throwing one of us to the players on the other courts after every point.
Many of the rallies go on for minutes until none of the players can remember the score and they waste two or three minutes more arguing and trying to recall and reconstruct the previous points.
No more center sweet spot hits to turn us on, these seniors use every part of the racquet except the strings, —the frame, the throat and even the handle mis-hit and send us flying in all directions.
For a while I’m in a panic. They’ve hit me into the other court and two full games go by before anyone notices I’m missing! Then one of the seniors on the other court puts me in play for a few points until a frame shot puts me back into my original court and someone remembers they started out with three Wilson Ones. Whew! That was close. Good to be back with my brothers again: it’s the first time we’ve ever been separated.
No smashes, topspin or crisp volleys – the seniors get tired easily and my brothers and I begin to get real friendly with the net as they keep banging us into it. It must be a senior net because it has patches and two holes in it and a player mis-hits me through one hole but the players can’t agree whether I passed through or over the net and so they play me over.
I can’t believe what’s happened! The seniors put me in a can without one of my brothers and dropped a fuzzless hard court Dunlop right on top of me. Bad enough that I spent three months with my brother’s bottom right in my face but one night with this bald smelly Dunlop who can barely bounce off the clay has made me long to be back in the can with my brothers.
I’m being hit softly by women now. They try to lob me over each other even though they all stand back on the baseline. The points last even longer than they did with the seniors and one of them keeps scaring the fuzz out of me by shrieking every time she hits me out.
There are some pluses with the women: when I look up from the ground underneath them I get some good views and during one changeover a real good looking one keeps me warm in her panties ball pocket for more than five minutes as she recounts the bargain successes she has enjoyed in area tennis shops.
During another change they put my brother next to me on the ball tray and we lie there wondering what’s happened to our missing brother and if we’ll ever see him again…