Thursday, January 25, 2007
John stood square to the net, head tilted; racket in one hand, shuttlecock in the other. Outwardly he looked calm and collected as he prepared to serve, but inside head brain was calculating the trajectory of the imminent serve. He swung back the racket and punted the shuttlecock low over the net. In his head he congratulated himself on a good serve but immediately prepared himself for the return of serve.
Sacha, diagonally opposite John, waited patiently for the serve. He stared intently into John's eyes, trying to read which way the serve would come; high, low. Left or right. As John swung Sacha tensed up, muscles prepared to launch into action. It was a low serve. Sacha took a step forward and swung at the shuttlecock, cleanly lifting it skyward, high toward the ceiling and the florescent strip lighting of the sports hall.
Martin was ready. He had already taken a few steps back, but needed a few more as Sacha's return of serve went deeper than expected. John looked on carefully, the word "Out" sitting in his throat in case the shuttlecock passed the back line. It stayed in. Martin wound up and connected at full stretch. The shuttlecock zoomed, almost horizontally back across the net.
Upon seeing the direction the shuttlecock was travelling, Sacha called out "Yours!"
He reasoned Jason's forehand would prove a far more damaging shot than his backhand.
Jason, with the call, had plenty of time to prepare. His feet danced as he positioned himself underneath the rapidly descending shuttlecock. At the right moment he struck it, low and fast.
John read the shot, Martin too, but John being nearer the net moved sideways and drew back his arm, awaiting the shuttlecock. The shuttlecock slapped into the tape across the top of the net, which robbed it of all of its pace; but not by so much that it could not climb over the net, somersault, and dive headlong for the floor.
"Love, fifteen." Jason cried.
Sacha punched the air and whooped loudly.
John cursed under his breath, swatting wildly at the prone shuttlecock.
Martin just slapped his hands to his eyes, incredulous.