Last week Mali and I had the opportunity to play in the US Embassy versus the Royal Bangkok Sports Club Tennis Classic. Okay, that wasn't really the name, but it sounds a lot better than the "Royal Bangkok Sports Club Beats the Snot Out of the US Embassy. Again." The last time we had this head-to-head competition the RBSC won 14 matches and the US Embassy won three.
For those of you who don't know, back in high school I played a lot of tennis. This fact might surprise people who know about my passion for soccer and may incorrectly assume that soccer has always been my first love. Anyway, back in the day I really enjoyed tennis and I was actually a serviceable player. Since college, however, I haven't played as much as I probably ought; I can still knock the ball around a bit, and I still like playing.
Since we moved to Thailand Mali has been playing a lot of tennis. She's always had a good forehand, but now that she's playing a couple of times a week it's positively wicked. And her backhand has improved by leaps and bounds. So when I got an e-mail a few weeks ago asking for players to compete against the RBSC, I let it be known that we would be available if they needed more bodies. The coordinator was a fellow who was in Mali's tennis class, so he signed us right up.
The matches were all doubles, and they weren't really matches. Each "match" was actually only one set. Mali and I were not paired together, which was probably for the best as I am easily distracted by how cute she looks in her tennis outfits. She was part of the only mixed doubles team, and they did the US Embassy proud by winning their first match in the tie-break. Mali and her partner went to the tie-break in their second match, too, and unfortunately they lost. But Mali was still the hottest-looking player out there, hands down.
At this point I think I should mention that the matches were played on grass. I had never played on grass before, and despite the ambassador's proclamation that it's "just like playing on hard courts, only grassier," there are some key differences. First, the ball skids off the surface a little more, so you have to get lower to hit it back. Second, the ball doesn't always bounce where you think it will because of inconsistencies in the surface. Still, it's easy on the knees, and the RBSC's grass courts are absolutely world-class.
My own first match was very frustrating for me (which is the first clue that we lost) because of my own inconsistency. The guys we played didn't really beat us, they let us beat ourselves. My partner, Ted, and I both agreed that with a bit more consistency we could have easily won our match. By our second match I got into my groove and we won quite handily.
All told we still lost, but we didn't get quite the beating we took last time--we won eight matches and lost 13 this time around. I'd like to say that Mali and I were the key difference, but that would be neither true nor humble. A wonderful end to a fun day was the barbecue at the Ambassador's residence. Now lest you have the impression that the Ambassador himself was out there manning the grill, it was a catered barbecue. But it was still delicious, and quite fun to chat with the people who just finished handing our butts to us.