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Back out on the tennis court (inside, actually; it’s winter) after a long hiatus, I found myself Sunday morning across the net from my longtime nemesis, The Baseline Machine. She’s recovering from a badly sprained ankle (hence the hiatus), but that didn’t seem to be slowing her down much, as we warmed up. And the lessons she’s been taking seem to have put a bit of a swagger in her step.

“How come you’re not doing any trash talking?” she asked me after she cruised through the first two games. I have been known to be fairly expressive during our matches.

“It takes me two or three games to get warmed up,” I replied.

At 0-3, I let her know that I hadn’t yet worked up enough interest to begin my comeback. “I’ll let you know when the rally is beginning,” I yelled across the net.

I took three straight points in the fourth game, and promptly gave notice that I was beginning to pay attention. “This could be it,” I warned. And, indeed, I began hitting winners and forcing mistakes while nabbing the next two games, pulling to within 2-3.

The problem with talking trash is that once you get a little momentum, it’s hard to stop — even when your game deserts you. Then, rather than yakking away in order to get under the skin of your opponent, you end up whining like Jimmy Connors. After TBM plopped a little drop shot just over the net in the process of winning game six, all I was left with was this: “That shot ought to be illegal when your opponent is over 60!”

I know. Lame.

I did recover to pound out a convincing win in game seven, but our hour of court time was over and I couldn’t carry any of my newfound momentum into another game. “I was just getting warmed up,” I reminded her. Superior conditioning and all that.

TBM just smiled and pointed to the final score. “Practice trumps trash talk every time,” she said.

Thoughts to share?

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