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Shell Shocked: Sanibel’s newest tennis instructor

By Staff | Aug 17, 2016

I opened my email in box and read about an opportunity of a lifetime.

The City of Sanibel Recreation Department was seeking quotes for a tennis instructor. The notice said that tennis instructors must be available to instruct private and group lessons and other tennis programs at the Sanibel Recreation Center.

This was it the mid-life career change I’d been waiting for. My most recent job of pothole counting wasn’t really panning out. There were just too many too count and too little cement to fix them. I wasn’t advancing my career.

The job before that of planting junonia shells on the beaches of Sanibel left me with a false sense of ethics. I winced when a Michigan school teacher found one and got her photo in the Islander and the Michigan Gazette. It just wasn’t right.

I had been thinking about becoming a swimming pool inspector, a librarian or a bartender when I received the email about the need for a tennis instructor at the Recreation Center. I decided to take the bull by the horns and proceeded directly to the Rec Center to get on line for this opportunity.

Fortunately, I was first in line and filled out the application. Shortly thereafter I was ushered into the Rec Center’s director’s office for a personal interview.

The director asked me to be seated and reviewed my application.

Director: It says here that you’ve played tennis only four or five times in your life. Why then are you qualified to be a tennis instructor?

Art: If you take a look at page two of my application you will see that I have watched Grand Slam tennis events for the past 20 years. I’ve watched every match and took copious notes on how points were won and the very complicated scoring system. So you might say I went to Tennis Channel University and completed my viewing degree.

Dir: Do you have a current USPTA membership certificate? That’s required.

Art: I’m a member of the Bald Eagle Preservation Society. That should be enough.

Dir: Are you willing to submit to a criminal background check?

Art: I have nothing to hide. Yes, I was a troubled teenager and jay walked repeatedly. I also shop lifted a fountain pen and rubber band at the five and ten cents store at around the same age. But I straightened out and became a useful and productive citizen except for the time that I ran through a red light in Sanibel.

Dir: But there aren’t any traffic lights in Sanibel.

Art: I’m shocked. That Sanibel police officer said I would avoid prison time if I did community service. So for two years I washed beer mugs at Doc Ford’s.

Dir: Let’s get down to business. Have you ever taught tennis before?

Art: I’ve taught the closest sport to tennis. I taught checkers to coal miners.

Dir: Let me make a note of that. Are you familiar with how tennis is scored?

Art: Of course, otherwise I wouldn’t be applying for this job. There’s a great deal of love in tennis and that’s where I truly shine. I foster love among tennis participants. When they’re done with my instruction they leave feeling warm and cuddly.

Dir: Are you current with topspin forehands?

Art: I’ve never been more current in my life. I know the latest topspin techniques. Unfortunately, they’re in ping pong but I’m confident I can make the transition.

Dir: Do you have any references we can call?

Art: Yes, indeed I do. You can call Roger Federer, Serena Williams and Billie Jean King.

Dir: Are you saying that you’re on a first name basis with these tennis legends?

Art: Well, maybe not a first name basis but I’ve stalked them all and they’ll recognize my name from the court documents.

Dir: If we were to hire you would you be available as soon as possible?

Art: I’m so anxious to get this job that I’m happy to start yesterday.

Dir: Thank you so much for applying. There’s just one more candidate we need to interview this morning. His name is Pete Sampras but we’re not certain he’s as familiar with the game of tennis as you are.

-Art Stevens is a long-time columnist for The Islander. His tongue-in-cheek humor is always offered with a smile.