10  Tennis, Anyone?

Watching tennis on tv has never especially grabbed me, though I like to play it or even to watch, in person, good players play.

Bingley loves to watch tennis on tv.  It’s the only tv he watches except for his favorite period dramas.

He’s more of a music kind of guy, npr especially:  string quartets if he’s feeling sleepy, jazz if he wants to watch the birds outside, acoustic guitar when he wants to play, choirs or folk vocalists around the holidays, wind ensembles when the weather’s nice and symphonies when it snows.  His tail sways back and forth with the music.

But he will watch his tennis intently.  He follows the ball so closely that he won’t talk with me while a match is going on.  The rest of the world disappears for him.  He often sighs after double-faults, and he’ll sometimes mew for winners.

I asked him if he has a favorite player.

“Nadal,” he said nonchalantly.  “For now.”

“Why?”

“Catlike,” he said.

“Is he your all-time favorite?”

“No.”

“Who?”

“Navratilova.”  Ah:  too much ESPN Classic again.

“Why?”

“Even more catlike.”

Once we were watching a younger player who had hit a bad spell and couldn’t seem to get any shots in. I always feel bad for good players when they play badly, so I was going to change the channel.

“No!” Bingley said.

“All right.”  I put down the remote.  “I wonder what’s wrong with her today?”

“Forehand and backhand,” Bingley said.  “Rhythm’s off.”

Well, he does listen to lots of music.

“Oh?” I asked.  “How can you tell?”

He turned toward me and looked me in the eye.  “Forehand should go like this.”  He swiped a paw–no claws–across my cheek.  “You see?”

“Hey!”

“And backhand should go like this.”  He whipped his paw back across my cheek the other way.

“Understand now?  Rhythm.”  He looked me right in the eyes.

“Yes, yes, I understand now.  Thank you very much.”

“Welcome,” he said.

After a bit, the young player was doing a little better, though she didn’t win her match.  Her opponent was too tough.

“Williams sisters are cool,” he said.

“Catlike?” I asked.

“Catlike,” he said, and he smiled and closed his eyes.