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May 4th, 2013

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01:37 pm - Opening Day
This morning, I walked a familiar route from my house, toward Beacon Field. As I turned from Madison Circle onto Stevens Street, I saw cars parked on the other side of Sanderson Street, by the tennis courts. And then I saw people playing, on the other side of the hedge. It was such a lift! I broke into a big smile. There were two courts of people playing doubles -- nearly all people I knew -- and one guy brushing the lines on another court. That guy was my playing partner for the morning.

It is one of the simple joys of my life now that these clay courts are only two blocks from my house, and I can walk, with my racquet backpack on my back, over to play tennis. It was these courts that brought me back in the game. In fact, it was watching some of these same guys playing on these courts -- old guys, having fun -- that made me dig my raquet out of the closet.

I love clay courts. It's not necessarily for tennis reasons, although there are those, too. But playing on clay is just satisfying. It's old school, organic, natural. I love the discipline of brushing the courts when you're done. I love how a well-groomed clay court looks, like one of those zen gardens. I love that you show up to nail the lines down. I love that they take the nets and the lines down for the winter and they go back up in Spring.

Which brings me to today. For weeks, I have been driving by the courts, watching them get ready. First raked and rolled, then the lines put down. Last weekend, a bunch of us showed up with hammers and buckets and nailed in all the lines. They are rolls of tape that are nailed onto the clay court. The DPW guys who put the lines down put a few nails in, but we volunteers do the rest. Then, this week, the top dressing and the calcium chloride, and finally, the nets. Today, the locks were off the gates and the courts were open for play -- a month earlier this year than last year. And here we were, out playing on them. Court one was a little bare -- some of the top dressing had blown off -- but it played well.

Today, the yellow balls got tossed up into the air and spun over the nets. Today, you could hear the thwack of racquets hitting those balls, back and forth. And that familiar coterie of players out there, just enjoying the beautiful morning by playing tennis. A great May day.

Beacon Courts

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Opening Day - flash & yearn

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