Saturday, February 23, 2013

Break point, out by the biohazard bins

Cam and I had a game of tennis yesterday morning - my first in a few years. We went down to the uni where we last played, but they are only admitting members on the courts now. Pretty crummy. Even if you are prepared to buy a membership you have to do a 20 minute orientation tour, and then still pay by the hour for the court.

We left in a huff, and tried our luck at the old court behind St Johns Hospital in South Hobart. I've seen people playing there - I've always assumed they must be staff. But we went in to reception and asked.Well, actually the ladies were too busy to ask, so we just stood there in our sports gear with our racquets and assumed they would twig what we were after. When the phone stopped ringing for a few seconds someone found us a key - and asked for $3! Surely it costs the hospital more than that just to have their reception staff interrupted.

With a bit of exaggeration I can see a comedy bit in this. Pompous over-serious tennis player jogging on the spot while he waits for someone to notice him, stretching and then eventually opening a can and practising his ball-toss. Meanwhile medical emergencies of ever-increasing seriousness play out behind him.

The hospital is pretty old, and it has grown in fits and starts, so it's a rabbit warren. It was founded as a homeopathic hospital in 1899. Out the back behind the coach-house (which now contains specialists rooms) are some sheds, the biohazard bins, piles of rusting rubbish and a neglected tennis court.We enquired in one of the worksheds and borrowed a spade and broom, and dealt with the tufts of grass growing down the tramlines.

Eventually we were up and running. Cam is a much better player than I - I hardly made a first serve all day. Yet he made more errors than me and ended up losing his usual steely focus. I won the first set and was up 3-1 in the second when we abandoned the match. It was just too hot and we had to play indoor soccer later in the day so we were saving our legs. (We lost soccer 5-4 so we should have quit tennis sooner).

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