I joined another tennis club today, my second since the pandemic. The first one has sort of gone inactive and since I’ve been playing regularly at this other club, I thought, what the heck, why not join? Might even get a chance to join their summer tournament.

One thing though, this whole getting active in sports again made me appreciate again the place where I grew up, Lantana subdivision in Polomolok, South Cotabato. Our generation were lucky and in sports, we almost had everything.

We had a plaza that had a football field and on the south side was a tennis court, which was a spit away from our house. Over the north side, was a basketball court. The football field also doubles as a baseball diamond and just behind the backstop screen that shields the street from errant pitches were gymnastic bars. And just behind the wall in the tennis court was a grass volleyball field, next to a small shed that had a table tennis setup.

In a whole summer, if you want to, you can start your day in the tennis court and end up playing basketball or football. Our field was small, but we didn’t play small-sided games. I remember it was common to have 11 other guys waiting for a full 11-on-11 match to end so they can replace the losers and on the basketball court, the same thing.

We got proficient in more than one sport, with others in three or more. Heck, in one district meet the smaller private school in our place fielded almost the same lineup for basketball, football and volleyball that the football game had to be delayed because they were still playing basketball—and they needed to rest too. Of course, forcing for a win by forfeit was an option but why would you do that to your neighborhood friends?

I liked our tennis setup too. Most nights, you’d have the parents and on weekends, when you only had three or five players, we’d play Australian doubles. I really thought that was a common thing until I asked around and realized it wasn’t.

In a nutshell it’s 2 against 1 on rotation. The single player is the server and after a game, the single player rotates to the doubles side and the first receiver becomes the server. And the score only counts when it’s a hold of serve.

We never had formal training or coaches, but we did fairly well too. Some earned tennis scholarships in tennis and football. We reached the national finals in the Coke-go-for-goal tournament, while some made the upper rungs of DepEd’s step-ladder tournament.

Looking back, I know some of us would have accomplished more given a proper trainer. But then again that would mean a certain degree of specialization, and that was never our strength.

Master of none, Jack of all trades, that was us.