November 10, 2015
Those of you who know me, understand that sport of any kind, has been alien to me for the fifty odd years I have walked (as slowly as possible) on this good Earth of ours.
My idea of sport is the odd game of darts with the lads, refreshment normally coming from the beer pump, so when Saeko Hamada asked me if I would be competing in the Manola Santana Press Padel Tournament, I was filled with horror, but agreed all the same, my courage fueled by a nice glass of red.
A 10am start, also something alien to me, at the Manolo Santana Tennis Club in Marbella, a venue where I was sure I would be left wanting and would have to be resuscitated after five minutes of honest exercise. By half past ten my press buddies still hadn’t turned up, so I happily lounged in the sun foolishly thinking I would win by default. Sadly my thoughts of sporting silverware gathering dust on my mantlepiece were short lived as Manolo rustled together a team of hardened Padel pros to essentially end my life on the green asphalt.
But to my surprise, after four full games of doubles, I was still alive, and actually feeling quite fit. Not that I won a single point in any game and when Manolo said “Johnny, you are trying really hard”, I knew what he was really saying was Johnny, you really are shite at this game. And shite I was, it was as if the centre of my racquet was actually a hologram with all the balls seeming to go straight through it.
Of course I should have realised that all my fellow press peeps would only turn up after all the hard work was done and lunch was served, and indeed as the clock struck two and the starters arrived so did the press, God bless them. So next time any sporting challenge turns up that doesn’t involve darts or snooker I shall take a leaf out of my fellow media types, have a lie in and turn up just in time for lunch.
Author Johnny Gates