Two days into the new year, and I've recorded my first defeat of 2014. Typical, is what my Tennis Hate would normally growl inside my head.
But, Haters, you should know by now I'm not normal.
In point of fact, it was one of those weird psychological phenomenas known in sports as a "good loss." It was hard-fought, lost by my partner, Beth Allen, and I to Worthy Opponents Henry Strozier and Tam Thompson in a tie-break.
Okay, so Beth and I let slip a 4-1 lead. And, yeah, Tam and Henry's climb back started by breaking me at 0-40. Oh, and now that you mention it, we never adjusted to their deep baseline shots and their lobs. Like Mark McGuire, I'm not here to talk about the past.
New year, new beginnings. Let's talk about what we did well!
Oh, for cryin' out loud, grumbles my Tennis Hate. If you must....
Beth heroically clawed her way out of a 0-40 deficit, stoically holding serve to put us up 5-3. I worked on my new story that says I am a wall at the net and got some volley winners, even a put-away backhand overhead. And I only audibly swore once -- just once! -- saying something untoward about Henry's wicked slice backhand return of my serve during that 0-40 sadness.
Yes, my new tennis story is still under construction. It needs some tweaking and some turbo-charging to really make it send me into a new way of being on the court, and, yeah, in my life. We all know tennis is life and life is tennis.
"Show me how you are in tennis and I'll show you how you are in the rest of your life," I can hear my dear pal, Betsy Rapoport, say.
Funny she should say that. One part of the rest of my life that is, literally, under construction, is the restaurant Mark and I have a little piece of.
It's called Krupa Grocery. It's up the hill from the Prospect Park Tennis Center, so Worthy Opponents and I piled into our car, Mark at the wheel, and checked out its progress.
One look at the huge walk-in refrigerator had Tam convinced we meant business. "This is a major operation!" she said.
I told her I hope the food lives up to the walk-in.
The space is still raw in parts, the long wall to the left still chipped concrete and bits of exposed brick. The kitchen was filled with boxes, tools and sheet rock. No oven yet or fryer or stove. Four contractors milled about. One guy was crouched behind the bar, wrestling with some plastic tubing. Mark indicated where the banquette along the wall would go, and where the tables would go.
Towards the back of the space, in one of the two bathrooms, someone had indicated with marker and masking tape where various bodily functions go.
Construction workers need blueprints for everything, apparently.
We're just bit players in this restaurant drama. The vision and oversight is our partners'. But it still feels thrilling to be a part of something real and tangible, a place, a hangout. It will feel good to see people in it, eating and drinking and joshing with the bartender. Or with Mark, who will work there weekday mornings, serving coffee and breakfast eggs and pastries.
I admire him for taking such a leap of faith in his professional life, ending a 35-year career in broadcasting last October to prepare for this restaurant gig. I think about who I'd be without being on the air. I'd be...what? Normal. Unremarkable. That's my story, at least for now. How I am in tennis is how I am in the rest of my life.