I’ve been playing competitive team tennis for 30 years now. Whew…that’s an awful long time, isn’t it? But here’s the thing; something is wrong with me.Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not dying. At least I don’t think so. I am behind on scheduling my annual checkup though, so until that happens, I can’t say definitively that I’m not dying.Anyway, I digress…for those of you who know me, you won’t argue that something is wrong with me. I don’t mean I see dead people or anything. But wouldn’t that be awesome? I’d love to visit with my family who’ve passed on, maybe even meet Mark Twain, Jane Goodall or Einstein. Scratch that last one; I probably wouldn’t understand a word he’s saying. There I go digressing again…
What I mean by something being wrong with me is that while playing tennis, I get calf cramps as often as Donald Trump insults somebody. I compare it to being subjected to a malfunctioning mammogram machine that never stops squishing. In other words, it hurts like hell.
Calf cramps. Kind of anti-climatic, isn’t it? I’m sure you were expecting much more. Sorry to disappoint.
We all have a weak spot, right? In tennis, my calves are my Achilles heel, so to speak. They often seize up during 3rd sets. And in the heat. And when I’m tense. And when I’m dehydrated. And when I’m tired. You get my drift.
I actually don’t think this is age related. When I played on my first team at age 30, my calf muscles cramped so often I was given a trophy and named Most Injured Player.
So this season I decided to fix the problem. I did some research on cramping and began to hydrate the night before a match. Didn’t work. Still cramped in the 3rd set.
Suggestions came rolling in like a blanket of fog over the Golden Gate Bridge. And you can bet I tried them all.Annette swears by Tums to ward off cramps so I take a couple before each match. Hilary says to stretch before playing so I do that too. Patty says electrolyte drinks are key, so I drink them during change-overs. My bionic friend Pam, who exercises more than any human I know, swears by dill pickle juice to prevent cramping. I know, weird, huh? So yes, I carry that with me too. Hey, I’ll try anything.
But I have to say compression socks have worked best. Yeah, I look ridiculous in them. Even more than usual. It appears I’m trying to imitate pro player Bethanie Mattek-Sands. If only they made me play like her…So now I’m a new woman on court. I’ve played 3 tough 4.5 matches (non tennis players are wondering what the heck that means) while wearing my ridiculous black knee-high socks. One match lasted 3 hours and the other was during a 100+ degree heat wave. Not a cramp in site, thank you very much.
Hey, I just had an ah ha moment. Perhaps I’m going at this all wrong. If my partner and I would just win or lose quicker instead of letting our matches go 3 long sets, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to cramp, right?
Well, it’s pretty evident to me what I now need to do: Get a new partner.