Thanks to everyone for their kind posts! It's always "iffy" to bear your soul in public, but like the great sport we love, tennis is full of outstanding individuals. Just an addendum: Yes, I quit smoking! I became a "racket head" the more I got into the sport, and I really wanted the new Prince racket that was currently being hyped. At $200 a pop, the wife OK'd the purchase of a couple so long as I quit smoking. The day the UPS man delivered my rackets from Tennis Warehouse I stubbed my last cigarette out on my garage floor and never looked back. Quitting was easy because I was motivated.
Alas, I still carry a 3.5 rating (on my headstone I want etched "HERE LIES A 3.5"). Now that I'm pushing 50, I've accepted the fact that there is only so much improvement to be accomplished, but thankfully I have reached a point in my life where I just enjoy the game. Besides, the guys I watch play at my club at the higher levels don't seem to have as much fun as we "bottom-feeders". Nagging injuries that force you off the court for short periods don't help either.
Reading other folks "testimonies" on the thread proves that tennis can and has done so much for people. I'm sure there is not a person on this forum that can't give examples of how the sport has benefitted their lives. How one can drive past a city park and see empty tennis courts, especially with obesity so prevelant in our society, is one of life's great mysteries.