‘Am I going to have bruises in the shapes of tennis balls all over my body?’

by Jonathon Braden

The past two years, Patsy Davis has been playing tennis with guys and playing in USTA South Carolina state league championships.

She has not, however, played tennis with guys at a USTA SC state league championship.

But, next weekend, she and her Aiken team will play in the USTA SC Mixed Doubles State League Championships.

This makes Davis a little weary.

Mixed doubles is coed tennis, with a man and a woman playing tennis against another man and a woman. In mixed doubles, some men, who typically hit harder than women, feel fine hitting the ball at the woman across the net.

Some men, though, intentionally avoid hitting the ball at women.

The men on Davis’ Aiken USTA team rally back and forth to each other, resisting any urge – who said there was an urge? – to rip a forehand at the woman’s face on the other side of the net.

At next weekend’s state championships, Davis doesn’t know what the men from the other South Carolina teams will do.

There will be men from tennis havens, such as Charleston and Hilton Head Island, and there will be men whom Davis has never played against, men from Columbia and Florence.

This unknown makes Davis is a little weary.

“Am I going to have bruises in the shapes of tennis balls all over my body?” she asked earlier this week, kind of joking, kind of serious.

Then Davis remembered she has no real reason to fear any tennis-playing brute.

She’s been playing tennis for about 20 years, starting in 1983, when she was a sophomore at South Aiken High School.

Davis was a cheerleader, and the cheerleading coach was going to start a tennis team and wanted Davis to try out. She did, and here she is, 31 years later, still playing tennis, even after a 10-year hiatus as an adult.

Talking about this weekend’s championships, Davis suddenly felt a rush of pride. She no longer felt weary; she felt confident.

“I will say there is not a woman on my team who cannot handle a first serve (from a guy),” she said. “I think all the women on my team can hold their own.”

Was that a challenge, I asked?

“Yeah, a little bit,” she said. “Yeah, bring it on!”

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