Wednesday, December 17, 2008

V Is For Velocity

Whatever Happened To Service With A Smile?

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON


I always obey highway speed limits. Always. But let me tell you about the time I was once clocked at 147 km per hour. Yes, that's right. At 147 km an hour. That's 91 miles per hour.

But I wasn't driving.

I was serving - a tennis serve.

You see, it was during the Australian Open tennis fortnight some years ago. While I checked out the tents that fringed the playing arena, my attention was drawn to one zone where any member of the public could rock up to have the speed of their service measured by the same mechanism that functions courtside for the stars.

From memory, you just paid a couple of dollars and you got three serves – and the pleasure of seeing your speed recorded on a huge digital screen.

Just the sort of callenge I love - and yes, I love a challenge or three.

I leant how to play tennis by hitting against the garage wall when I was a little fella. I went to Wimbledon from 1981 to 1987. Okay, so it was not in the role of competitor - I went there as a tennis writer, covering the tournament that I dreamed about as kid.


I've even got a couple of tennis trophies to my name. So I'm not just a mug player with two left feet. I can actually play. But allow me to get back to the story, instead of meandering.

It was a long line. It was a hot day. I didn’t have much time before play got under way at Centre Court. But as a clay courter with a decent serve and a (slightly) erratic baseline game, I just couldn’t resist the lure of a finite figure. So I stood there in the queue that didn’t really seem to be moving.

I was a bit self-conscious for the first serve. Pressure, y’know. All those people watching. Okay, so there were a couple of hundred spectators. I couldn’t believe my eyes when the digital screen flashed 142. That slow?

The second time around, the ball toss wasn’t perfect. I should have caught it and tried again. But equal measures of pride and stubbornness fuelled my attempt to make amends. Hmmmm. 135. Not good.

I really concentrated on the final serve. Racquet head steady. Knees flexed. Clean toss. Rotate at the hip. Wham. Surely that was up around the 170 mark. But it was only 147.

Dang speed cameras. Never work correctly when you want them to. Not happy when they say you're too fast. Even more disgruntled when they say you're too slow.


For the home of ABC Wednesday, go to Mrs Nesbitt's Place.

29 comments:

squawmama said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
squawmama said...

Wow it is hard to believe that they travel that fast... I got hit in the neck with one once during a game... No wonder it hurt like hell and swelled up... LOL LOL

(((HUGS)))
Donna

Sorry hit the wrong button... LOL

Pat Houseworth said...

If I ever get "Down Under" David, we will have to go a set or 2.....

RuneE said...

It is about as fast as my car can go, Maybe it was the the tennis elbow...

Eric Barclay said...

Howdy from Texas. Enjoyed reading through your blog-- excellent stories and photos. Thanks for your visit and kind comments.

Dr.John said...

It sounds pretty fast to me.

Craig Glenn said...

I beg to differ, my dear friend that uses strang words like queue when standing in line. I seen smiles in all of those pictures. Although, I am certain, that with your powerful serve, the smile is much harder to see!

No really, look at all the smiles in those baskets!

Craig

Cherie said...

See now, I would have thought that 147 kph would be pretty good. Maybe next time. ;)

Daryl said...

The top photo .. center ball has its eye on you!

And it doesnt look happy

:-Daryl

JoAnn's-D-Eyes said...

ooops! David,
Thats fast I wasn't able to Tennis last year but I always love to Tennis, Great shot as usual:).

My V is a slideshowVIEW, watch mine here:
www.joannwalraven.blogspot.com

Bye greetings from JoAnn/Holland

GoneBackSouth said...

How funny to see the word disgruntled - I used that word today.

richies said...

I tried the radar once throwing a baseball. I thought i was really throwing hard and it registered 62 mph.

An Arkie's Musings

bellamocha said...

Thanks for visiting me today and commenting on my Ruby Tuesday! I'm glad you did- and that I've discovered you in return...I have found a hoard of interesting things to read up on here!

Best of all is that you grew up in India! I grew up in Calcutta, Delhi and Bombay and knew Darjeeling very well from staying with friends in the tea gardens. I would love to hear about your time there!!

Bella :)

Stesha said...

That is really fast! I really never think about the speed when it comes to the speed of the balls.
At least you weren't driving that fast.

Merisi said...

Speed envy!
Here.
Big.
If I could work down my lists with half the speed you shoot your tennis balls, I would be sending you greetings from a spa right now.
;-)

anthonynorth said...

Enjoyed that - although tennis is not one of my better skills.

Life with Kaishon said...

This is so impressive! I have always loved that sport. I was never great at it, but boy was it fun! I wish I lived near a court and had a partner. Do you still get to play? You sound GREAT!

kayleen said...

You could have named you post v is for veracity too!

babooshka said...

Going off at tangents again as quick as your serve.

ramblingwoods said...

Geesh..that is fast..I would not want to be hit by one...

Leslie: said...

Good for you, David! It must have been hard being watched by all those people! I sure miss playing tennis, but my surgeon says I can play again once I'm all healed up. I can hardly wait...but I don't think I'll be anywhere NEAR 147!!! :D

online casinos gambling said...

yeah..that really hurts!ouch!

Kat said...

I've always loved the color of tennis balls. So cheery.
And I too learned to play tennis up against a garage as a kid. :)

spacedlaw said...

Fun post and a great V.

Rinkly Rimes said...

Definitely the mechanism at fault!

kikamz said...

OUCH! That ball sure was FAST! Good thing I've never been hit by one!

btw, mine is here: http://seasons.pinoyvibes.net/2008/12/17/v-is-for-vow/. hope you can visit too.

happy wednesday!

jay said...

Well, 147 km seems fast to me, but what do I know?

Loved the story - you tell them so well! And yes, there is at least one good smile in that top basket! ;)

Crystal Jigsaw said...

My Sparky would have a beano with all those balls.

CJ xx

Dragonstar said...

Wonderful story David - only you could come up with something like this! Excellent choice.
Thank you. ABC Team.