I was ten and at the county tennis trials. All the kids were lined up on the side of the court.
“Bounce the ball across these three courts, turn round when you reach the fence, then come back.
“But you can’t use the strings. You have to bounce it with the edge of the racket, on the side of the frame”.
Uh-oh. Never done this before.
“Ok – go!”
The other kids threw down their tennis balls and started bouncing them across the the courts.
I dropped mine, twisted my racket on its side, and tried to knock the ball down and forwards so that I could set off too.
Ding! My ball hit an edge on my racket and shot off to the left.
I chased it, grabbed it, and tried again.
Bing! This time I’d hit it squarely but too far back on the frame – it bounced back into my stomach.
The other kids had already crossed the first court.
Ok, and again – thock! I caught it too far forward on the frame and the ball whizzed ahead of me up the court. Phew, at least now I could move off the starting line.
The charade continued for what felt like an hour until someone merciful called a halt. I hadn’t yet made the fence, never mind turned around and come back.
Twenty years later, I still feel embarrassed about it.
You can’t prepare for everything, and you won’t always have the talent to wing it first time.
But that’s ok. I can bounce the ball with the side of the racket now.
I got there in the end.