The Serve

Out of the cor­ner of the eye, the oppo­nent stands ready, weight shift­ing from foot to foot in antic­i­pa­tion. The serve starts with the toss. The arm swings smoothly, robot­i­cally in an arc, and then betrays its organic com­plex­ity when, near the peak of the arc, the hand opens up like a flower and the ball emerges. As the ball floats up towards its sus­pended moment, the body winds up like a tre­buchet, the arm its ter­mi­nal sling.

Only moments after the ten­sion is built up, it is released. Kinetic energy starts as a trickle, from the earth up through the feet, from ankle to knee to hip, now a fast mov­ing stream, up through the spine and into the shoul­der, a river now, through the elbow and the wrist, until finally it reaches the racket, a rag­ing tor­rent that sweeps up the ball in its path and then dis­perses into the sea of the sur­round­ing court.

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