Tennis by Col. Stoopnagle

            Tennis consists of several people knocking a ball from one side of a "court" spank into a net, which is in the way.  The net is stretched across the middle and is just high enough to permit the ball seldom to go over it.  If the net were eliminated, the game would be much faster.  If the game were any faster, players over 45 would probably die.  This would not be very encouraging to others, and would leave a lot of large lumps around on the court.

            The court is a big oblong place, mostly flat but with little tufts of obstinate grass growing in blotches all over it.  (This is true for either clay or grass courts.)  A court must be rolled and swept regularly, so that after it's been played on, it may be rolled and swept again.  The one who rolls and sweeps doesn't play.  He couldn't anyway.  He's exhausted.

            In order to confine the play, lines are either painted on the court by the same people who make white traffic-lines crooked or they consist of tape tacked down only often enough to be tripped over.

            The scoring in tennis is very complicated.  If you hit a ball into your opponent's court and he misses it completely, the score is then 15-0 in your favor.  If he hits the ball into the net, it's still 15-0.  You get no more for his having missed it than you do for his having hit it.  Then for your second score, you get another 15 points.  That makes you 30 points ahead.  (In a football game, that would be 10 field goals, or five touchdowns, and no conversions.)  Now comes the most astounding part of the whole procedure.  Here you've won two times in succession.  Your opponent is crestfallen.*  Then AGAIN you make him miss a point, and for this additional feat what do you get?  Another 15 points?  Not by a jugful!  You only get 10 points, making the score 40-0, instead of 45-0, as you have been led to expect.  Why are you penalized for winning three times in succession?  Come on, Mister Tilden -- stop standing there blushing!

            There IS one nice thing about tennis: people are always so polite.  Profanity is never heard on the court, unless somebody inadvertently swears.  And when the match is over, you leap over the net a winner, grab your opponent by the hand and congratulate him upon being defeated by such a fine player.  Walking around the net would be much more graceful, and, besides, your opponent wouldn't have to pick you up.

            After a jolly afternoon at the tennis tiff, everyone gets together for a tiffin.  If the tiffin happens to be several martinis, the players get stiff.  It is from this quaint custom that we get the term "Court Plaster".


*J. Flemington Crestfallen, of Taut Gut, Ohio.


[From ?, “Vestpocket Essays,” circa 1945]


Page created November 15, 2006.  Copyright 1998-2006 by Richard D. Squires.