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My Sweet Revenge
By Eduardo D. Vigliola - Buenos Aires, Argentina

Have you ever seen at school any of those guys who are always taken by his schoolmates to make fun of? Well, I used to be one of them, probably (no kidding) one of the most "extreme" cases. I used to get so heated, so annoyed, I could hardly control myself, which was only good for them to keep doing it over and over again. And of course, the more angry I was, the louder they would laugh at me. I was completely aware that their main goal was only to see me out of control, but there was nothing I could do about it, it was simply stronger than myself. You may imagine that bearing such situation for so long wasn't exactly healthy for my ego. But deep in my mind, I knew that sooner or later there would come a time for me to take revenge.

It was when I was averaging high-school that I started to play tennis. I never let any of these dudes know about it, as tennis was never much of a popular sport in my country... and chances are they would have one more reason to bother me with their stupid jokes. Well, I made it through high-school, went later to University, and nearly forgot all that past of mine, however.

Unfortunately, my career, my work, and later a girlfriend, kept me off the courts for about nine years. But after graduating, one day out of nowhere, I just decided I wanted to start playing again. Picked up my old Prince racquet, and went with my Dad - my most faithful tennis friend - to the club where we hit for a while. Nothing was easy back then, I must confess. I was no longer a kid, and everything turned twice difficult. Nevertheless, with hours and hours of practicing against backboards, on-court drills either with friends or strangers, some lessons with a pro, Scott B's e-mail advice, and - of course - more and more matches, my play and my strokes slowly started coming back. Now I'm happy to say I have even improved my former level.

So, well, what about the subject of my story then? My revenge, yeah! Some two months ago, I've been to the club where I usually play, and... guess who I met there? Can you imagine? Yeah, you're right - it was one of my former "friends" at school, one of the most, let's call him, "offensive". Of course, we had both grown up, we were already mature people, but somehow I couldn't help but remembering him humiliating me with his "witty jokes" before the rest of our schoolmates, and even teachers! Well, we talked for a while about the sport, our jobs, our lives, our problems. He told me he had been playing for about a year, and then agreed to meet the following weekend and play a match.

"A match against "the Enemy"!", I thought. "I have to be ready, I have to put all my lights on!". I knew from the very beginning I was putting too much pressure on myself, but I couldn't help it. During that week, I went and practiced four times - serves, volleys, groundies, topspin, slice... everything! After my last practice session, I went home thinking to myself, and believing - "I AM READY".

Saturday morning, 11:00 a.m., we were both there and started our warm-up hitting. He had good groundstrokes off both sides, but I could notice he had problems playing back low balls on his backhand. The match started, he served. I began becoming nervous... none of the strokes I had been practicing seemed to be going. Soon I was down love-3, I was mostly missing long or hitting straight into the net, I just couldn't keep the ball in play. "This is not working," I thought during the changeover, "I have to slow down a bit, I have to relax, a point after a point, that's it. I know I can play much better". Okay, I stood up and walked toward the baseline with a new attitude. I held my serve in that game, broke him in the next one, and held again in the sixth, even scoring several good liners-winners. The score was now even, 3:3, but still I could feel that something was just not right. I was still quite nervous, and started missing again. He held his serve, and broke mine... "All right," I thought, "I'm down 3:5 and he's serving for the set. I think he's gonna win anyway, so what do I have to lose if I take some more risks? After all, it's just a game". I don't know whether this is a good tennis-challenge mentality or not, but somehow, even to my own surprise, it worked. I remembered his problem with low bouncing balls and started slicing some shots to his backhand side. Believe it or not, this was key, and I won the first set, 7:5!

You know what? I could perceive that my friend was a bit upset, so I took it as my first achievement! I had never managed to upset this guy during our school days. In all my memories he's always laughing out loud at me... and now, look at him, poor guy! Of course, I wasn't laughing or even smiling, but I was indeed enjoying the "magic" of the moment in my spirit. As we started playing the second set, I could see him becoming more and more anxious and nervous, even hitting the net with his racquet and often kicking the balls away... Well, I'm not bragging, but needless to say I won the set (and the match), 6:1.

After the match was over, as we approached the net to shake hands, I could hardly conceal my joy and relief... and neither he could hide his frustration. I just said, "Good game!", though inside my mind a voice kept murmuring, "Ha! Now you know how it feels to be humiliated so badly!".

That's it, that was the story of my Sweet Revenge... I think that was my greatest tennis victory ever. But, as I said above, it was only a tennis match. I'm aware the story sounds rather "movie-like", but the best part of it is that, paradoxically, me and this guy became quite good friends. From time to time we meet and practice together, and... guess what? He even promised to introduce me to his sister! She's cute! ;-)