Read Love Game - Season 2011 Online
Authors: M. B. Gerard
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
by M.B. Gerard
Copyright © 2012, M.B. Gerard
to Dory Turner for everything,
to Catherine Prendergast,
to Stevo, Sian-Marie and Ariane,
Love is a game
that two can play
and both win.
– Eva Gabor
Eavesdropping On The Heart
A Change Is Gonna Come
Keeping Up With The Januses
Ad Ventures And Break Points
When In Rome...
De Point En Point
Serving A Love Game
On A Secret Mission
Dog & Fox
Let’s Have A Ball
Beneath The Moon And Under The Stars
Between The Lines
Break, Make And Hold
Have Your Body Serve And Eat It, Too
Walking A Fine Line
Blood, Punch And Tears
The Tampa airport looked magnified in its clean emptiness. As always at 4 A.M., Elise Renard thought. Nothing to worry about. She knew it was only the silent terminal and its covered-up restlessness that triggered her own concealed agitation. She wished to push it away like she pushed the trolley in front of her but she couldn’t help feeling the undeniable inanity of her doings. Again she set out for another season on the tennis tour. Again she set out for another attempt to get back where she used to be when she made a splash in the tennis world two years ago.
Get back to
. Rick Salieri, her mentor, had tried to drum the words into her during the off-season weeks she had spent at his tennis academy, but Elise wasn’t so sure anymore if she could make it back, let alone to the very top. During the time she was away nursing her knee all her peers had been making huge steps up the ranking, while she had to witness her ranking tumbling down week after week. But she hadn’t given up when the doctors had told her the bad news. Instead she had worked meticulously to get her body in shape again, and as soon as the doctors gave her the word she had begun training with the same burning ambition and focus as she had before her injury. Of course, she could get back to the top. She hadn’t lost any of her skills or her drive. She only had to win some matches along the way to get back where she belonged and this had proven to be rather difficult since she had started on the tour again in October.
As often as she had repeated Rick’s words over the last months like an old mantra something else had begun to occupy her mind. A tiny fact which – apparently and strangely enough – seemed invisible to everyone else. However, she herself was well aware of it. Slowed down by her knee injury she had enough time during long hours of physiotherapy and involuntary idleness to get a clearer picture of herself. The injury time-out had triggered a new self-awareness, and yet she didn’t know what to do with this new-found clarity, nor the following turmoil of emotions that now lurked around every corner of her soul.
This odd feeling of belonging nowhere, her inability to win more than two matches in a row as well as the nagging thought that she might get injured again had driven a small, yet painful thorn into her optimism. After witnessing her ranking drop below the Top 100 and finding herself in the chasms of challenger tournaments, she dreaded the thought that another injury might end her tennis ambitions for good.
She also thought about her parents who had given up so much so she could pursue her dreams and who both worked hard for her success. She gave the trolley another angry push. No, she wouldn’t let her doubts get the better of her. Instead she would get back where she belonged and she would prove to herself that she could make it. Not just on the tennis court – but in life. Because her tennis career could be over in a second and there was a part of her soul that was craving for new experiences which had nothing to do with fuzzy, yellow balls. She had to be open to adventure. And why shouldn’t she give it a go, if a chance ever came along? Suddenly she felt excited about the new year. She turned around to her parents who walked behind her pushing an additional trolley with several huge bags piled on top of it. They had stopped in front of the security gate.
“Don’t get pouched by a kangaroo,” Elise’s mother said, when she hugged her daughter tightly, and Elise began to miss her already. Her mother would stay at home in Florida and would join them later when the tour hit American soil again in Indian Wells.
“No,” Elise mumbled, fighting back tears. Then she broke free of the embrace and quickly turned to the waiting security officer. Behind the security gate she turned around to look at her parents. They were saying good-bye to each other outside the gate. Elise had nobody to smile at like that, and at this moment when she realized she wanted someone to smile at with all her heart.
The sun was shining, sliding along the court to embrace the lines and the net in the peculiar way Lynn Pebblestone had grown to love over the years.
The umpire made her way down the stairs and entering through the gate at the bottom, she stepped onto the court and took a look around. On the other side of the court two players and their teams were packing their bags having just finished a practice session. She waved to them and they waved back with smiles on their faces, before Lynn turned to the high chair that would be her work place for the next week. She enjoyed the respectful, friendly relationship between the umpires and the players. However, they usually stuck to their respective groups.
The beginning of the season had a special flair to it which Lynn cherished and which reminded her of her own beginnings on the tour back in the 1980s. The excitement of the players getting out on the court again was palpable. After weeks of grinding practice and fitness exercise the girls displayed the skittishness of racing horses. Lynn enjoyed seeing them flocking in one by one. It felt like they were hitting the road to a summer camp. It was in fact a ten-month summer camp moving all around the world and all of the players – some more than others – had a moment when they let loose and misbehaved exactly like the young folks they were. Behind the scenes of the players’ parties, where the cameras were not allowed to roll, was the place where the good stories originated.
It was these stories that kept the summer camp alive and buzzing. Moreover, they were the natural resource for the Love Game, as it was called. Lynn and some other umpires played it every year. They would pick several players and guessed who they would end up with. Every umpire had four guesses, the Grand Slams of the Love Game. Over the years Lynn had made it to her very own No. 1 ranking having won the title thirteen times. She was the queen of the Love Game.
This year she had already placed her bets for the 2011 season and even though she had chosen a combination of players that were highly unlikely to ever make it she would chance it. If she was right and no other umpire had made the same pick it could be another successful year for her. No risk, no fun, Lynn thought and closing the little gate of the court she'd just inspected she headed to the next one on her survey tour.
Looking outside the airplane window Elise watched the sun rise over the airport field. While other passengers were edging through to their seats, her father stuffed the last item of luggage into the overhead compartment and sitting down next to her he squeezed her right shoulder. She gave him a quick smile but then turned back to the window. The plane began to roll on the tarmac and for a while Elise tried to listen to the flight attendant’s safety instructions. But knowing them by heart she fell back into brooding.