The Bug

By JAMIE MASSENGALE,

Do you have the bug? In recent years, the sport of tennis has taken over my life.

I’m spending a lot more time on the courts and enjoying playing tennis all year-round.

When I was growing up, I never really played tennis. I was more into soccer.

My great-aunt’s house in Germantown, Tennessee had a court in the back yard and I remember summers of watching my cousins play.

I would try to play, but didn’t quite get it. My great-aunt showed me a couple things and before I knew it, I was passed out in the grass from dehydration.

When I was in high school, I decided to try out for the tennis team. I thought I was decent enough to make the team.

As it turns out, it was a rough go, as the school I went to had players who had been playing tennis since birth and were always winning state championships.

Needless to say, I didn’t make the team.

Working for the Hattiesburg Country Club for a number of years gave me access to the facilities there. I never really played organized tennis until my friend, Wendy Carmichael, asked me to play on her husband’s league team.

Just a quick side note: The United States Tennis Association is the national governing body of tennis and promotes tennis all over the country. Local leagues are USTA sanctioned and played using USTA rules.

OK, so my first tennis team was comprised of members of the country club.

I was on a team with doctors, lawyers, and business owners.

We weren’t very good. I can get pretty competitive and we lost every match we played.

It felt like some of the guys on that team wanted to play just to get out of the house for a few hours each week. I played that one league then took a seven-year hiatus from tennis.

In early 2014, a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to play in a tournament at Tatum Park. I asked, “What do I have to do?”

She said, “you have to get signed back up to the USTA and get some court shoes.”

So I did all that.

I played in the tournament. I got whooped and came back for more.

I told my friend that I didn’t want to just play one tournament, so she put me in touch with someone who was putting together a league team.

Playing on that league team in 2014 gave me the tennis bug.

I officially became a tennis person.

The league seasons roll into one another.

After spring league, I played mixed doubles during the summer.

After mixed doubles, I played combo doubles in the fall.

Tennis in the south is year-round and I was (and still am) hooked.

Last year, I was the captain of a team and we won the state championship in dramatic fashion and are looking to go back again this year.

This tennis bug has me.

What bug has you?

Jamie Massengale is an avid tennis player and is rated 3.0 in the United States Tennis Association.