Against my better judgement I agree to play in the mixed with an Italian player, Masimo de Dominico.  When I check the draw and see that in the first round we are playing against the first seeds, Ilie Nastase and Helen Gourlay I sincerely regret my decision.  Maximo is not the ideal mixed partner.  He lollipops his second serve and plays from the baseline.   The volley is not in his repertoire.

Masimo and I argue about who will serve first. Although my serve is better than his, he insists, as he is the man, on serving first.  Otherwise what will everyone think, he says!

He misses his first serve.  I stand nervously at the net.  I try to stare through Nastase.   I can see him lining me up

Masimo’s second serve is pathetic and only just makes it over the net.  Nastase shows no mercy and belts the ball straight at me. It is almost a direct hit.  I only just manage to scrape the ball away from my body at the last moment.

I am really mad at Nastase..  They are a much stronger pair and will win anyway…

But Nastase is enjoying himself.  The look on his face reminds me of my first boyfriend when I was 5, who used to throw stones at me and pull my plats.

All through the first set, he continues to belt every ball straight at me.  I receive 15 direct hits.   We lose the set 6 -1.

I am about to explode.

I tell Maximo that I am not going to stand at the net anymore while he serves and stand at the back line.  Maximo tries to insist that I stand at the net.

But there is no way I am going to stand up at the net and cop any more of that shit.

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Susan Joy Alexander

Susan Alexander is a former tennis champion, successful business woman and a poet.