Nastase Was Nothing

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Where shall I start? How about Rude Tennis Dad?

“Hello!” I say brightly. “I’m–”

“I THOUGHT THE MATCH WAS 2 FOR 2.15 NOT 3! OH MY GOD [Nameless Unfortunate Daughter] YOU ARE  BEING SO ANNOYING TODAY!”

7-year-old NUD is dreaming of Claire’s Accessories and thunderous at the absence of hair furniture in the Raynes Park David Lloyd shop. Rude Tennis Dad storms off to warm NUD up, possibly by grilling her over the barbecue facilities.

Younger Son only served overarm for the first time last week. Match One starts shakily but he sets his teeth and blasts Grim Opponent in Pink through the air vents 10-7. GOP takes it well and adjusts her macrame hairband. NUD observes with barely concealed fury.

Match Two is versus a burly youngster recruited moments earlier. “He was wearing sandals five minutes ago,” observes Chilled Canadian Dad as the winning ball sneaks past Younger Son’s ear. 7-10.

Match Three against the Milky Bar Kid whistles by as fast as a large sponge tennis ball can: 2-10. Younger Son kicks off his trainers and indulges in sock-rallying with the victor until his final opponent completes his own Match Three.

A fractious tie-break challenge.

Tiny Japanese Boy is clad in luminous yellow and comes up to my ankles. We watch as he crouches over ball and racket to serve his last Match Three ball. We keep watching. We watch some more. We check our pulses. Fifteen seconds of silent thought-gathering. He uncoils all twenty-two centimetres of himself and belts the ball across the net. It’s out.

I’ve never seen such a marvellous tantrum in my life. He’s so furious that he almost melts the astro-carpet. “Believe in yourself and you can win!” the Milky Bar Kid shouts through the netting. When Tiny Japanese Boy is finally persuaded to start Match Four, we are treated to more living-statue serve preparation. Younger Son yawns pointedly. Tiny Japanese Boy storms off in a blaze of miniature rage, forfeiting the match.

Younger Son’s team wins. We celebrate with orange squash, jammy dodgers and muted arm-pumping. It’s been an education, people.

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