“Nice try,” my partner mutters as she dusts the optic yellow fuzz and dusky green dirt from her skirt. I know that’s not what she means. My attempt at an offensive lob has fallen woefully short. Instead of rising to soaring heights above the net player, my shot peaked instead at the perfect height for our nearly six-foot-tall, Lululemon-garbed opponent to crush at my partner’s left thigh.
I am duly chastised. I know that “Nice try” translates to “Why didn’t you just hit a cross-court drive that you know is the high-percentage return of serve?”
“Sorry,” I mutter back. But what I really mean is, “Why did you turn your back and run off the court like a chicken s#*$? If you had just held your ground you could have reflexed that back over the net player!”
TennisSpeak. It’s the language that lurks beneath the words we use on the court every day. Because being a good sport means never, ever saying, “You suck!” Even when it’s killing you. Instead of telling it like it is, most of us employ a special vocabulary of expressions that substitutes for what we’re really thinking.
Following is a glossary of TennisSpeak that every doubles player will want to memorize to keep the peace with both partners and opponents:
Translation: I closed too tight to the net and if I try to back up, the twenty extra pounds l’m carrying will make me tip over like Humpty-Dumpty.
Translation: You missed the last four overheads so I’ll trample you if you don’t get the hell out of my way!
Translation: My bad.
Translation: Really stupid shot but I’m supposed to stay positive with my partner.
Translation: Take that ball out of the air and I’ll kill you because it’s flying to the back fence.
Translation: Don’t take that ball out of the air but keep an eagle eye on it because I might be totally wrong and then it’s your fault if it drops in and you didn’t hit it.
“I’m going to serve & come in.”
Translation: You cover your alley and the lob because I’m going to serve and then take one or two steps in the direction of the net before total paralysis sets in.
“We’ll do better next time, partner.”
Translation: I’m dumping you for a taller partner who loves to poach.
“That was just out.”
Translation: The ball was really in but we needed the point.
“Are you sure that was out?”
Translation: You lying ‘ho. You know it caught the line.
“Have a nice match.” (what you say to opponents before you play)
Translation: We’re going to kill you bitches.
“Nice match.” (what you say to opponents after you win)
Translation: We kicked your sorry asses.
“Nice match.” (what you say to opponents after you lose)
Translation: You guys suck and didn’t deserve to win. You hit all that soft, slicey-dicey crap we hate to play against. We’re going to kill you the next time. I wish I hadn’t had that second cosmo last night and stayed up to watch three episodes of House of Cards.