like cats it came down. the October rain was relentless and loud as we sat on the two rows patio in Allen, Texas. no tennis this night, just some rainout beers with keck and billy vita. just as well. we were all in some state of chaos, confusion, or discernment. keck and his recent brush with tennis humility. max King had destroyed him. 6-1, 6-0 old style scoring method. his credentials were discovered only later and included professional status and bent tree certifications. keck was talking about this guy's game, just better and smarter. and he was older. max King was 55, keck estimated. always pushing forward, always putting shots away at the net. and spin, and drop shots, and extreme angles. his was not a game we knew. and we knew. keck promised to start working on his net game and asked billy and I for our best pointers. somehow, I had been blessed with quick feet and soft hands. once I learned to take a final hop and set myself before my opponent hit an attempt at a passing shot, net play had come easy. the punch, developed early, and constant forward play only enhanced my ability to win matches. the kramarian approach, as I've only since discovered. my advice to keck was just that. mainly, encouragement was what he needed. being on the losing side of our last mahut, the spur mahut, must have been on his mind as well. the rainout likely saved me from a wrath. a keck tennis wrath. I was happy we were drinking rainout beers instead. the patio was nice and dry. the air was cool, but muggy. the beer menu included Tupps northbound 75, but they were out. inquiring further, the nice young, smiling, waitress mentioned something about updating the beer menu on which Tupps would not be included. offended slightly, I politely ordered a dos xx because it was Mexican night. This was the wednesday before hurricane patricia had everyone worrying and praying for the mexicans and non-mexicans on the mexican west coast. a dos xx seemed appropriate. was more offended when she asked me if I knew of tupps, "a little brewery in mckinney." keck loudly mentioned the sticker on his car. I said something about swaying California brown and iron art. where is the loyalty? updating your beer menu? from then on, I ordered what keck ordered. it was all good. and the waitress was forgiven, especially after she informed us she was not of drinking age, she had never been to Tupps. she had never seen Chris day's iron. she had never tasted the black. delicious.
Billy's net game advice was more in depth. I learned a lot sitting at that table. always go for the center of the net. the odds are greater. the angles much better. and the deep approach of course. middle, side, either way, just keep the approach deep. he explained in detail the lead up to the hop skip. his instruction-filled mind and knowledge of the game was apparent. he had spent time in a classroom, learning from the tennis masters of Philadelphia. he had learned the game at another level. he has wisdom to impart. he watches the tennis channel all day long as he takes conference calls and strings racquets. cutting edge in everything, especially new technologies. he is our coach. but, he had more important and relevant matters on his mind. his mother-in -law, Bernadette, was in poor health, lung cancer, and her passing, and likely continuing, seemed near. prayer for the Irish Bernadette, and her family, especially sweet Mary. lord, be with her. billy vaped and drank and detailed for keck a net game strategy. this temporary diversion was healthy for him, knowing the stoicism to come. obliged or compelled, all will know.
my own tennis humility came just a week prior. at the racquet of billy himself. I had played well and it didn't matter. billy broke through. we had at least 40 deuces in our 20 game mahut. it went on and on. in the end, billy won more important points and left me trounced, 7-13. some proactive coaching advice from earlier in the day had me thinking about the psychology of it all. it is a dangerous place to lurk, but it is required to keep up with the likes of billy vita or his brother Joe or keck or Frank Friday or any tennis royal from the past. perhaps even one day, max King. point to point, hour to hour, day to day, year to year. time will stop if we let it. it will go away, and shall. his return of serve has made obvious improvement and his serve is a controlled weapon. his advice was appreciated as KOtC6 was only a month out. playing as a royal will be new. this could be it unless I can win again. perhaps Duke is a possibility this time. the field may have thinned out. the likes of King stone, King the Todd, and King james are missing due to other conflicts, some USTA sectional type of sanctification. and, in King James' case, a road trip to see the once-promising cowboys play the buccaneers in Tampa. King the Todd sent his brother Marty in his stead, a friend to the Isner methodology and culture. Serving as teammate and coordinator and coach of the Blowfish, we teamed up earlier in the year, along with King the Todd and others, to claim the revered fries cup. Prince fess is a definite threat to all and everything, he is a determined fighter and hater of evil. an Earl to Duke ascention would be noteworthy, but it will take big game. and billy vita wants the Duke.
all who participated in kotc4 remember last November. all were witness. the sad sight of keck worrying about the rain and the dry 5 hour window that followed. Huffman, driving in from grapevine hardly able to see, having faith in tennis. Vito, Roy, Berco, Fosters, a Dane and Luu too. many are chasing royalty, but only four will emerge, all led by the King Of The Court. don't expect rainout beers, there is no cancellation plan. the beers wait for after. At Tupps, of course. A little brewery in McKinney. Mahut!!!