Re-learning tennis at age 50

By Atty. Eduardo T. Reyes III

The backhand slice.

It has always been my favorite shot.

I can still feel the racket strings brush through under the tennis ball as if holding it for milli-seconds and then slicing the ball towards the direction that is not within reach of the player across the net.

It has been more than thirty years since I played at the top level competition in college even reaching the national games for three consecutive years. Then law school beckoned and I had to heed the call to become a lawyer.

While in law school,  I had to hang my racket so I could pick up my books. I tossed the tennis balls aside so I could get a better grip of the legal principles and doctrines.

After passing the Bar exams, I was immediately thrust into the maelstrom of law practice. This is not to mention the dream of building a law firm that is comparable to those in Manila that had instead taken a firm grip on me for the past thirty years.

That law firm is now built. The footwork of twenty-four lawyers is evident in the two-story building that houses this firm.

Then I decided to pick up my tennis racket again. (Although, technically, the tennis rackets I’m using now were acquired some ten- not thirty- years ago.)

The dust had gathered all over my tennis racket. But while the dust could easily be wiped off, the rust in my game seems unshakeable.

Turning fifty this year, I realized that getting back to tennis form is proving to be a difficult act.

The knees are buckling. I had to deal with sore knees after my first two games.

The stamina is almost zero. I had to stop and take a deep breath after hitting a few balls.

The tennis court seems larger than I used to know it. I had to hit extra hard just to get my shot across the net.

Then the eye sight is failing. I have been in denial of my impaired vision for the longest time, until I could hardly make out the opponent let alone the tennis ball that he/she is hitting from the opposite side of the court. I had to rely on the sound of the racket hitting the tennis ball and react as if I’m blindfolded and asked to return a serve or a ground stroke.

Ah, the challenges of life as demonstrated by tennis.

I ignored tennis for the longest time to pursue my career in law. All the while I thought that I was off the hook for good.

I am wrong.

As they say, in tennis, there is always something new to learn. For me, re-learning tennis may be like riding a bike; but this time, I have to traverse a difficult terrain.

Two weeks after I punched my first volley, I am getting the feel of tennis once again. The pain in the knees is starting to subside. The stamina is slowly getting back. The tennis court is getting reduced to its real proportions. And, yes, I had to acquire a pair of sports eyeglasses to deal with the glare of the lights on the tennis court.

I may not be able to run as fast as I could to chase a ball during college days nor jump as high for my first serve like I used to, but I can still return the tennis ball back to the other side albeit with lesser KPH behind it. The beauty of tennis is that you can adjust your game to suit your age.

As I started to pick up more tennis games, it dawned on me that just like in life, when you are fundamentally sound, you can always get back in form. In tennis, you may have been away for a long time, but you can always go back.

Perhaps, this is why, in tennis, a player always has two serves.

When you miss the first one, you get to serve again.

At 49, and before I officially turn 50, I’ll take my second serve.

(The author is the senior partner of ET Reyes III & Associates- a law firm based in Iloilo City. He is a litigation attorney, a law professor, MCLE lecturer, bar reviewer, and a book author. His website is