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— Annie Fell, Editor-in-chief, Talkhouse Music
My best friend pestered me to get a tennis racket two summers ago. I got one on Amazon for, like, 20 bucks, and since then have become a total tennis psychopath. I try to play three or four times a week. I’ve never really been into a sport in my entire life, and it’s kind of interesting to be so obsessed with it right now. It’s just felt like a really peaceful, calming exercise. I get a lot of pent-up energy out, and can go to this place where I’m not thinking about music — or anything, really. I find it meditative. It clears my head.
There was a great spot a few blocks from me at Seward Park — they have free courts, so that’s where I was playing that first summer, against the wall. But recently, they dug up the courts and are replacing it with some AstroTurf kind of thing. I was playing at the East River courts too, which was really nice, but you needed a NYC Parks Permit. Also, they’re in the process of demolishing all of East River Park, including the tennis courts, so that’s kind of a bust. This winter, I’ve been going to McCarren Park — there’s a tennis bubble there, and you can rent the courts hourly, but it’s kind of a pain in the ass to book.
I’ve been going to Paragon Sports a lot. It’s cool, it’s this old New York sporting goods spot, kind of like Modell’s or something. It’s this massive two-floor store up by Union Square. I’ll buy a racket, get it restrung, or I’ll buy shorts. It’s kind of fun to get dressed up to play — I’ll just wear a shitty t-shirt and some kind of Nike shorts.
I get so competitive, it’s kind of insane. I don’t really know where it comes from. I feel like I don’t get really competitive in any other corners of my life. There are certain kinds of competition I feel, whether it’s with myself or otherwise, but that’s more of a vague mind competition. It’s good to have a very simple task, and to compete against someone physically and want to win. It feels healthy, honestly, to have a little dose of that in my life. But it definitely is done the second the game is over.
I’m an OK player. I’m getting better. I think that’s what’s so fun about it too — there’s always room for improvement. It’s exciting in the early stages to feel yourself improving, but it’s kind of a lifetime pursuit. There are 70 year olds still working on their strokes and making minor adjustments. But I’m alright. I can hit.
As told to Annie Fell.