Chicken Wire

     The courts were brand new.  Possibly, we were the first to ever play on them.  We were bringing high level tennis to Spur, Texas.  Now they had the facilities.  Chicken wire was needed between the bottom of the fence and the court to prevent balls from rolling under, windscreens are mandatory in the west texas wind, and locking the side gate serves no purpose.  Also, the lights seemed insufficient for reasonable night play and the absence of a backboard was noted.  Still, despite these needed adjustments, the two electric blue on forest green courts was the nicest, and newest, construction project in town.  Somehow it put Spur in another category.  Keck and I had played on the old courts the previous two years during the annual tx.ou weekend gathering at Rio Blanco canyon.  They were older than old, neglected and sad.  Not played on for a decade, not stepped on for years, we took to them for 10 game mahuts.  That first year, I took Keck down 6-4, mainly due to an unstoppable inside out serve on the backhand side.  The drooping 2 and a half foot net only assured my victory that day.  Chunks of court would fly, we slid like we were on clay, shattered glass was all over, cracks plagued the courts badly.   Keck mauled me 8-2 the following year.  Vindication is one if his defining traits.  We showed up on the new courts excited and prepared after seeing them the day before on the way to the canyon.

    The turnstile was cleaned up and replaced to its original spot, the nets were brand new, the lines were perfect, thick and white.  The ball left incredible marks, the west texas red dirt providing perfect frames.  Like having laser beam technology.  I was obsessed with it, and impressed with a few of the calls that were made and validated by the marks.  Calling lines is like seeing visions.  Integrity and honor are required.  Tennis is a civilized game, dependent on the competitiveness and effort of each player.  After winning a few early games, Keck took control and won 7-3.  His forehand winners were deep and dove sharply inside the baseline, his swift feet were active, he kept the pressure on.  He became quickly disgusted at any error, he cussed missed first serves.  It was good to play fairly well.  4-6 was realistic and I had held out hope for 5-5 til he fought me off from love-30 in the 8th game to prevent a break.  As in years before, a small crowd watched from the porches and car ports that surrounded the area.  We recognized some of them from the years before.  They seemed proud to see us back, to see what they had built.  We hustled for drop shots, we screamed out in frustration, we moved from side to side.  We owed them our best.

     Preparations continue for King Of The Court 4.  A lot has happened.  Keck has met personally with Billie Jean King.  He has told her of the King Of The Court Tournament.  She was very impressed and, predictably, inquired about the girls.  The Queen Of The Court has already been discussed.  The format is the same with a Queen winner, a Princess, A Baroness, and a Countess.  We just lack the woman players, for now.  He also briefly met Andy Roddick.  All this happened in Austin at a convention of some sort.  Of course, keck was there with his wife on an unrelated matter.  The names are bigger than ever--Jeremy Strong, JD Miles, King The Todd, King James.  Mir is back.  Joe Vita, Leo Escario, Mardy Feldman too!  Frank Friday returns.  He and Leo have never missed being in the Royal Court.  Frank, first as Prince, then capturing the Earl in the summer.  Leo, going Prince, Earl, Duke in KOtC 1, 2,3 respectively.  Bobby Peirson is in again and Nielson returns after missing KOtC 3.  Another kid is playing after the previous kid went off to Shriner College to play for their tennis team.  He a student of Justin Quest and Jeremy Strong and the number one player on the Allen high team.  He could win the whole thing!  There are others.  Keck seems to be angling for the Duke, but will likely get in the Prince afternoon round.  My hope is to appear, healthy and loose.  Rugged preparations have given way to swimming routines and light drills.  One 20 game Mahut a week is all.  My roddick in KOtC 3 was humbling.  Watching from the fence line is not for me.  A tennis revival is  taking place.  The tennis channel has arrived.  In Spur and everywhere.