Yesterday I played some "social tennis." A teammate invited me to play with two friends of hers. I was told we would be playing at a "private tennis court," and my friend didn't know the level of these two other ladies. We get there, and I learn what "private tennis court" means. It means one lady has a spectacular home, with a lovely pool and a private tennis court in the back yard. Amazing landscaping, beautiful everything. Dang. We take the court, and the two ladies say they are a bit rusty, which seems to be true. I would say one is a good 3.5 and the other maybe a bit lower 3.5. We warm up and start playing. Now, my friend had signaled to me that we shouldn't be crazy-competitive and aggressive, so I tried to keep it low key. I was crazy-generous on line calls just to keep the point going, and we called balls out very gently ("Oh, that was a little bit wide.") I took particular care not to hit at the net player and not to bean anyone. I tried to keep my grunting to a bare minimum. And I noticed something. I played like crap. For instance, I was at net, and one of them threw up a short lob. Normally, I would try to crush such a ball, and I wouldn't much care where the ball went, so long as I hit it hard. My main concern would be keeping the ball in front of me and making good contact. As I went to hit it, I remembered my pledge not to hurt anyone and took note of where both of them were standing. Which caused me to whiff the shot completely! I went on to miss every other overhead that came my way, usually into the net. Things weren't any better at the net. Instead of just hitting a quality volley at the feet of the opponents, I felt pressure to find some open court. I didn't feel comfortable just slamming the ball. I felt nervous about poaching, lest I accidentally plug the net player. I wasn't stepping into volleys, wasn't charging the net. I missed so many volleys, and the ones I did make had nothing on them. I wonder what this means. Should holding back some mess up your whole game like that? Maybe holding back is why teaching pros so often botch easy shots in clinics and lessons. Afterward, the hostess said she'd like to add me to the list of women who play each week. Which means I must have handled things appropriately. Whew! On the way home, I was thinking that playing with these ladies will be good for my tennis. Perhaps it would teach me to find the empty court rather than just slamming the ball indiscriminately. Oh, and the hostess is selling this lovely home. Too bad we have three kids to put through college . . . .