Hi everyone, here is another extract from Molly’s Dreams – available at Amazon of course if you want to read more.
Grandpa sent me a tennis racquet for my birthday. He said it was because I was the first left-handed grandchild that had red hair, just like he was. So I started learning how to play tennis after school and on the weekends.
On my way to the tennis courts I rode across the park and past the swimming pool. The water looked so cold and lonely with the pool gates locked over winter. I turned right at the pool and started heading up the hill toward the fierce looking brick building of the high school. On a school day I wasn’t usually game to ride past the high school with all those teenagers standing around watching me. But on Saturdays the high school was empty so it was okay.
When I arrived at the tennis courts I would park my bike alongside the wooden clubhouse outside the fence. Mr. Moulder was the tennis coach and he looked nearly as old as the school headmaster. He was always dressed completely in white; white shorts with a pair of bony white legs poking out of white sandshoes and socks; a white jumper that he never ever took off, no matter how hot the day was, and a white hat. Even the hair that stuck out from under his hat was white. I heard some of the kids call him Mr. Mouldy, but I thought he looked so dry that mould would never grow on him.
All of the children were separated into groups of boys and girls of all ages. My group was all girls and we weren’t allowed to use balls and just seemed to spend all of the time going through drills, practicing forehands and backhands without even getting to feel what it was like to hit a ball.
The boys were meant to be hitting balls against a wall, but when Mr. Moulder wasn’t looking some of the boys would try to hit their tennis balls as high in the air as they could. When he turned around and saw them misbehaving he yelled at them to stop. “Now then, boys, keep those balls down! You need to be able to hit them over the net, not up in the sky.” He would then take the balls away and show everyone how to practice swinging their tennis racquets through the air.
After a while he let the boys have the balls again so they could hit a basket full of them across the court, but he made us girls stay on the other side and keep practicing swinging our racquets in the air. He said we weren’t ready to hit any balls yet.
I was concentrating on watching the head of my racquet swish through the air, but out of the corner of my eye I noticed Mr. Moulder go into the clubhouse for a moment. I kept watching my racquet, when suddenly some tennis balls came whizzing into the group of girls where I was standing. I could hear the boys laughing from across the court. “Ha ha, you nearly got one that time, Tom!” one boy yelled as a ball bounced over my head. Some of the bigger girls were giggling and they started hitting the balls back, but I was scared that I was going to be hit by a ball. All of a sudden Mr. Moulder came out of the clubhouse and yelled at everybody.
“Right!” he yelled, “No more balls for any of you! Put your racquets down and I want all the balls picked up and put back in the basket.”
When I got home I practiced hitting an old tennis ball against a wall at the back of the house. Because there was nobody else around to play with me, I just hit balls against the wall for hours and made up little tennis matches against myself. I had to be careful though, because if I hit the ball too hard it would bounce back and go over the fence. There was a dirt lane down the side of the yard and a storm water drain next to that. Sometimes I had to climb the fence and try to find my ball in the drain or in the prickly briar bushes that stuck in my hair and scratched my arms.