I got interested in tennis when I was still a high school student. Since then, I often go to the city tennis arena to practice or play with fellow amateurs like me. I regularly look for individuals who wanted some practice game.
Coaches often hang out on that common place too, so I was able to meet Coach Erick. He was a former tennis player 2 years ago. But right now, he has suffered a stroke which affected his body and limited his physical capabilities. It stopped him from playing tennis ever since.
He talked to me one day while I was sitting at the bleachers. I was waiting for someone who can play with me. He tapped me on the shoulder and said, “You should play with my best friend here.” He then turned his head to the Border collie on his side. “His name is Fido.” The dog seemed to know that he was introduced so he sat up and tilted his head while I was looking at him.
I looked back at Coach Erick; I did not know his name back then. “Play with your dog?” I asked him with confusion in my eyes.
“Yeah!” he exclaimed but still having a straight face. So he ordered the dog to go down to the court. I hesitantly followed the dog down the bleachers. He sat down on the middle of the other side of the court. I took out my tennis ball and made a gentle serve towards him. He stood up; he was alerted when I hit the ball. I watched him run close to the ball. He waited for it to bounce off before catching it with his mouth. I stood surprised on my spot. Coach Erick whistled and Fido ran to him. He gave the dog a treat then it went back to the court.
Before I released the ball into the air, Coach Erick shouted, “You better try harder than that.” I assumed he wanted me to serve the ball harder. So I hit it with all my might and I just saw Fido, jumped sideways to catch the ball with his mouth. I can’t help but smile at this dog’s agility, and compatibility in being a practice partner. As soon as he caught the ball, he ran towards me. He dropped the ball near my foot and went back to his position. I glanced at Coach Erick and he was smiling at me, and he was proud of his best friend.
So my regular tennis days continued. Coach Erick and I would talk about the different techniques in tennis. He covered the right way to serve, the types of spins and the smart placing of the ball. I would practice those with Fido on the other side of the court. On days that there are real players to play with, Fido would patiently sit down, a few inches away from the sidelines and will come running to get the ball if it gets out of bounds.
And that was my story of how I learned that dogs can be practice partners too.