隊中有我,我心有隊 There Is a“Me”in“Team”

As I turned into the parking lot at the tennis club the other day, I pulled my 1)visor over my face and 2)scooted down real low in the driver’s seat so nobody on my team would see me. They’ve 3)been after me for weeks, and they’re like: “Michelle, come on. We need you in the 4)lineup.” They are so 5)peer pressure! They totally know I’m not ready yet because I hurt my wrist and now I have to learn to 6)serve with my other hand. It could take years—ask anybody—for a former 7)leftie like me to develop a right-handed serve that’s good enough for competitive play. So I sneaked out of the car. Then I 8)crab-walked, all 9)hunched over, toward the privacy of the far court, where one of the club’s 10)pros, Rafael, would help me work on my serve. I did not get far.

“Michelle!” Oh no. Janet. My captain. “Are you going to play in the match next week?” she yelled at me from court three, where she was playing doubles. I 11)scuttled past. “Hey, come back here! Are you even on this team?” That was so embarrassing. I pretended I didn’t notice her, which was a 12)stretch, considering that she was barely four feet away and our eyes had 13)locked. But whatever. I was trying to ignore her because I just wasn’t ready. I needed more time to heal.

 There Is a“Me”in“Team”Just then, luckily, I saw Stacey, my tennis idol and former doubles partner, standing up on the 14)deck. She would have to protect me. I scuttled toward her. Then the worst thing ever happened: Stacey 15)turned on me, too. “Yeah, are you ever going to play again?” she yelled from the deck.

Good question. And before I answer it, I would like to make one thing clear. I know I am no longer in high school. But sometimes, tennis makes me feel as if I am. Maybe it’s the whole team thing. The last time I felt the same overwhelming social pressure to belong to a group, I was a teenager. And not just belong—I don’t want to let the group down. I want to make a difference. It’s a powerful feeling. I know some people get it at their 16)PTA or church or 17)local militia or whatever. Not me. With tennis, the team is me and I am the team. We are like 18)a pack of wild dogs. I am sorry, but it is true. When one of us brings down a baby 19)rhino we all get to 20)feast on its tender, baby rhino flesh. And after that? We might get to go to the 21)playoffs. Some day: a 22)trophy.

Does this make me pathetic? I don’t care. This tennis team matters to me, deeply. I love you, 23)dudes! And yet, that is why it has taken me awhile to rejoin my pack.

“It’s been two years,” Stacey pointed out, somewhat 24)disloyally as I 25)clattered past her, my face 26)crimson with shame.

“I’m ready to play,” I lie-whispered. “Any time the team needs me.” But, dying inside, I 27)slinked home as soon as I could. Later that afternoon, I was at my desk checking e-mail when a shock appeared in my inbox. It was from Janet. She had put me in the lineup! 28)OMG, OMG, OMG!

“I don’t think I can do this,” I said a few days later to Rafael, who also functions as our team coach.

“Why not?” he asked. “Are you sick?”

“No, scared.”

“Of what?” he asked.

“Embarrassing myself,” I said, kind of embarrassed to hear myself embarrassing myself in this way.

“You don’t need a hard serve to win,” he said. “All you need to do is get the ball over the net. Every time it comes to you. The winner, in tennis and in life, is usually the one with fewer 29)unforced errors.” He sounded like 30)Yoda, if Yoda were a tennis pro from Brazil.

I considered his advice. Hadn’t 31)Roger Federer himself just lost the United States Open championship match against 32)Juan Martín del Potro? Why? Because Federer had 62 unforced errors. The unforced error is when you beat yourself. The ball comes to you and you hit it into the net. Or you hit it long. Or you hit it onto the roof of Gary Burke’s car, in the parking lot, which I do, a lot. But the worst error of all is when you don’t even try.

On game day, I knew our opponents were going to be tough. During 33)warm-up, the tall one kept hitting fast, spinning serves. I knocked a couple toward Gary’s parking space just to show her that she didn’t scare me. But of course, she did. During the match, however, I stayed tough and maintained my focus. When she hit a 400-milean-hour drive straight at my kidneys, I played my game: the 34)dink. Soft returns, ridiculous 35)loopy 36)lobs and a serve that floated across the net like a 37)matzo ball made with love.

But a funny thing happened. My opponents kept 38)overhitting. Meanwhile, my partner, Cheryl, and I got most of our shots in. At one point in the second set, I even heard one of our opponents 39)hiss to the other, “But her serves are so soft…”“Float like a matzo ball, sting like a bee,” I thought. And 40)wafted another of 41)Nana’s 42)seltzer 43)specials over the net. We won, 6-2, 6-3.

A few hours later, after that first incredible 44)endorphin rush 45)subsided—and after I called everyone I know to shriek, “I won! I won!” into the phone, and after I texted my daughters at college with the news, and after I did a little secret victory dance in the shower—I realized that I couldn’t wait to play again. I was back on the Team.

前幾天,當我把車駛入網球俱樂部的停車場時,我把帽舌往臉上一拉,盡量將身體往駕駛座的低處靠,避免讓隊員們看到我。他們已找了我好幾個星期了,如果見到我,肯定會這樣說:“米歇爾,振作點,我們的陣容不能沒有你。”他們真是讓我壓力好大!他們非常清楚我還沒準備好,因為我的手腕受傷了,現在我得學著用另一只手發球。這可能要花數年時間——隨便去問問誰——像我這樣一個原本是左撇子的人,要訓練用右手去發球,還要熟練到能參加比賽,難度可想而知。于是我偷偷地下了車,彎腰弓步悄悄向遠處球場的隱蔽處走去,在那兒,俱樂部的一位專業人員拉斐爾將幫助我練習用右手發球。可是,我還沒來得及走遠。

“米歇爾!”噢,不。我的隊長珍妮特看到了我。“下周的比賽你要參加嗎?”她從三號球場那里朝我大喊。那時,她正在練著雙打。我急急忙忙逃開了。 “嘿,回來!你還是不是這支隊的隊員?”當時實在很尷尬。我假裝沒有注意到她,但也太假了,因為她離我僅四英尺遠,我們也曾四目交會。但我不管了。我試圖忽略她,因為我實在沒有準備好。我的傷需要更多的時間來愈合。

幸運的是,就在這時,我看到斯泰西站在場地上。她是我的網球偶像,也是前雙打搭檔。她應該會保護我吧。我急步向她走去。接著,最糟糕的事情發生了:斯泰西也向我“開炮”。“是啊,你有沒想過再次上陣?”她從場地那邊朝我大喊。

問得好。作答之前,我得說清楚一點。我知道自己已經不是高中生了。但有時,網球讓我覺得自己仿佛還是一名高中生。也許是因為“團隊”這個東西吧。上一次我感到這樣壓倒性的團體社會壓力時還是一個十幾歲的少年。而且并不僅僅是屬于這個團隊這么簡單——我不想讓這個團隊失望。我想有所作為。這是一種強大的感覺。我知道有些人會在家長教師協會、教堂或者當地民兵組織等各種組織里找到這種感覺。但我沒有。當我打網球時,網球隊就是我,而我就是網球隊。我們就像一群野狗。我很抱歉這么說,但事實如此。假若我們當中有人獵到一頭小犀牛,我們都會撲過去共同享受大餐。之后呢?我們可能會進入最后決賽。可能在未來的某天,我們會贏得一個獎杯。

這使我變得可悲嗎?我不在乎。網球隊對我來說非常重要。我愛你,隊友們!而這正是為什么我要花一段時間去重振旗鼓。

“已經兩年了,”斯泰西指出,仿佛在說我背叛了網球隊。當我經過她身邊時,我羞愧得滿臉通紅。

“我已經準備好了,”我低聲撒謊道,“只要球隊需要我。”但是,在內心深處,我已心灰意冷。我盡可能快地溜回了家。當天下午晚些時候,我在書桌前查收電子郵件時,突然看到收件箱有一封郵件。那是珍妮特發來的。她已經把我安排在比賽陣容里了!天啊,天啊,我的天啊!

幾天后,我對我們球隊的教練拉斐爾說:“我覺得自己沒法參加比賽。”

“為什么呢?”他問,“你生病了嗎?”

“沒有,我就是害怕。”

“怕什么?”他問。

“怕自己出丑,”我說。當聽到自己以這種方式說出自己的窘迫時,不免有點尷尬。

“你并不需要以猛烈的發球來取勝,”他說,“你只需要把球擊到網的那邊就行了,每次都要打過去。不管是網球還是生活中的贏家,通常都是那些主動減少失誤的人。”他的話聽起來像尤達大師,如果說尤達大師是來自巴西的職業網球選手的話。

我仔細考慮了他的建議。羅杰·費德勒不也是剛剛在美國公開錦標賽中敗在了胡安·馬丁·德爾波特羅手上嗎?為什么呢?因為費德勒出現了62次主動失誤。當你自己泄氣時就會出現主動失誤。球打到你這邊,你卻把 它打在了網上,或者把球打得太遠了,又或者你把球打到了加里·伯克的汽車頂上、停車場里,而這些恰恰是我經常犯的錯誤。然而,最致命的錯誤是你根本不去嘗試。

在比賽當天,我就知道對手將會非常強大。熱身期間,那個高個子總是發出速度很快的旋轉球。我接了幾球,大力往加里停車的方向反擊,向她表示她并沒有嚇倒我。但是,她確實把我嚇倒了。不過,比賽期間,我保持頑強的態度,保持專注。當她以每小時400英里的速度回球,直擊我的腎臟時,我巧妙還擊:來個網前吊球。我使用的是軟回球、滑稽的多圈吊球以及如愛心面餅般從網欄上漂過去的發球。

然而,有趣的事情發生了。我的對手一直擊球過遠。與此同時,我和我的搭檔謝麗爾多數情況下能把球打到對方發球區內。在第二局的某個時刻,我甚至聽到對手悄聲對其隊友說:“她發球這么輕,怎么還……”“漂浮得像一團面餅,蜇起來卻像一只蜜蜂,”我想。然后網欄上又飄過我的另一個擊球(編者注:這里用奶奶的蘇打水飲料比喻擊球)。我們贏了,第一局六比二,第二局六比三。

幾小時過后,當最初那令人難以置信的激動之情消退后——在我給所有熟人打電話,對他們尖叫:“我贏了!我贏了!”、給我在讀大學的女兒發短信、在浴室里悄悄地跳了會兒勝利的舞蹈之后——我意識到,我已經迫不及待地要歸隊了。我回到了網球隊。