Pages: Tennis is love

Match Point
Pages: Tennis is love

Julia Fordham will sing “Happy Ever After” as Tops reopens this week. Traffic will halt the city, fine diners will teem with bookings and flower prices will blossom. V-gifts will cause a sudden, unexplainable headache among the men. And worse, at week’s end, we’re all left with that huge hole in our pockets.

Whoever said that life’s best things are free... excluded Valentine’s. But guess what? I just might have the V-formula that works. It’s inexpensive, proven to work by yours truly, and guaranteed you can score at love.

Here’s my true story:

There once was this “dream girl” named Jasmin. Intelligent, funny and the president of our college student council, many said that she was a cross between Alice Dixon and Sharon Cuneta. To top all that, she bagged the Intrams MVP award when she smothered that softball for a last inning homer that captured her team’s gold medal.

You’re right. She was all you could ask for in a girl. And so I planted my moves. We knew each other from high school so no need for those dilly dallying intros. We talked, burned the phone lines and silenced the party-line screams. She said yes to my first date request, lunch at Shakey’s Mango. We climbed Tops. Strolled along the beach line. Laughed in “Something About Mary.”

I was close. I was making inroads, yes; felt her feeling reciprocal, true; but up until then, four weeks past our first date, I never “scored.” Zilch. Nil. Nada. Not even HH. (You know, holding hands.)

Then, lo and behold, tadang! Like the genie that popped out in Aladdin, an idea sprung to mind. Take her out on a tennis date!

And so one afternoon, surrounded by flowers that danced and the swirling wind that sang when one’s in love, we climbed Cebu Plaza Hotel (now Marco Polo) and had our first tennis date.

A beginner she was, thank you, Lord! That meant one thing. I can smell her perfume. And so I went up close, close, closer. You can’t go screaming the ABCs from 40 feet across the net, right?

One point. Then I held her hand. You can’t teach a semi-Western grip unless you gently take her hand, look her in the eyes and guide her step by step, right?

Two points. Then we relaxed, sitting side by side with legs almost touching, sweat flowing through our faces while I pulled out a towel then drew near. She pulled back slightly, hesitated for a moment then took the towel to wipe her face — all with a smile.

Romantic, intimate — I think that was it. I’m scoring! Three points.

A couple more dates on court followed before I convinced her to play a real game of doubles. This time, it was at the Cebu Tennis Club in Banilad (year was 1994) and, with two friends, we rallied for half an hour then got ready to play ball.

I first served, 0-1. Then 0-2. Then 0-3. Jasmin was frustrated, I noticed. Finally, when the score was 0-4 against us, I blurted out the four most infamous words: WE’RE STILL IN LOVE.

Her eyes enlarged bigger than an owls and arms locked at the hips as if to say, “What did you say?”

Zero points.

“I mean.. our score is still zero. You know.. Love means zero in tennis.”

Good thing, Jasmin’s now my wife (of 26+ years) or else my score in love would have been… LOVE.


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