For the last three months, I’ve played tennis about once at week with three other co-workers. We usually play doubles. My partner is SL, a producer in the world/environments area. SL is known for his natural ability as an athlete and also for his smoke breaks, which at times he finishes while continue playing. Our opponents are GT, an SE on single player (where I work) and SP, a front-end artist whose art I get to see in some of the stuff I work on.

Everyone started off pretty poor in their tennis skills. It had been nearly two years since I had hit a ball. Perserverance paid off though and as the weeks went by, everyone got better. Fortunately, we all levelled up at the same pace. We’re all quite decent now and as our skills rose, so did the competiveness.

Though we’re all good sportsmen, there have been some subtle ways to raise our abilities a bit. We’re not doping or anything but it’s still kinda amusing. One of us decided to buy Rafael Nadal’s racquet. Out of all the tennis-related purchases one can make, this is the one that affect your game the most. I’ve bought new racquets before and the first day you use it, I don’t know a single person who doesn’t get a temporary +5 on skills of tennis. Depending on how good the racquet fits with the player, there can also be a permanent raising of skill.

Another one of decided to get new court shoes. Mobility is a big part of tennis and getting to a ball a split second faster can mean the difference between losing a point at Stanley Park or winning the US Open at Flushing Meadow. Yeah, you heard me right.

Still another of our group decided to start wearing a head band. This was clearly the least effective tactic as from a practical point of view, it can only absorb sweat and keep hair away from the eyes. None of those were really problems to begin with. I suppose one could channel the skills of Bjorn Borg with the head band but didn’t really happen.

I did none of the things I mentioned above. Last week, I decided to finally upgrade my gear. I didn’t really need a new racquet. My shoes are two years old but they’re not falling apart. I don’t like head bands. What did I decide to get? I settled on a Nike tennis polo shirt, as made famous by the classy Swiss player Roger Federer.

It would seem like a fairly easy thing to find in Vancouver. I was wrong to think that. The Nike Store downtown doesn’t carry these shirts in my size. If I was a massively overweight serve and volleyer then I’d be in luck. None of the sporting goods stores I’ve visited carry this shirt. Most stores barely have tennis balls in stock let alone tennis clothing. Nike sells it online but won’t ship to Canada. Other retailers do ship to Canada but I’m responsible for the stupid duty at the border. If all my options run out (as well as the summer), I might just have to bite the duty bullet.

If anyone knows where to get Nike tennis gear, you let me know. For now, I’ll be still wearing a ratty old t-shirt on the court.

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