#456 Sequoia Park, Monterey Park

It’s great to play tennis with someone who is a click better because you can see what they’re doing and try it yourself.

That’s what I was doing on this beautiful hilltop court. Steep walk getting up there but definitely worth it to be hitting with my new friend E. We were rallying with some pace, yessir, now we’re talking! The thing he was doing was coming up to the net on my shorter balls. Yup. That’s the way to do it! I noticed him doing that and started coming up to the net myself. We had ourselves some jolly good back’n’forth, yessir, good clean tennis fun way up on a hilltop in Monterey Park.

From my side of the court you could look out over rolling hills and looming rainclouds towards Montebello, Commerce, Downey, Bell Gardens, Southgate, Paramount and Bellflower, all the way south to Long Beach and the ocean. It was an unexpected top-of-the-world experience that complemented my joy about it being my twin daughters’ birthday.

During water breaks, we established that E. is from Kazakhstan whereas I am from New York and Texas but have lived in LA for the past 30 years to his six. We did not get a whole bunch into comparative culture, focusing instead on our shared interest in swatting balls back and forth while running around.

I can tell we are new friends and not just acquaintances because we arranged on the spot to play again! It is really a thrill + pleasure + honor to be meeting lots of new people, typically from far-away places, and swatting and sweating and grunting away. Tennis is a really good outlet for public grunting, another underrated thing about this sport. I mainly grunt on my first serve. I have a pretty strong “uhhhhhhnnnnnnnnnn.” Feels good to let it out. I think grunting is one of the reasons I feel so exhilarated after playing tennis.

I definitely felt great after this outing. I eased my way downhill — walking downhill is harder on the knees — and headed directly to Mexcatessan for some deeeeeee-lish pozole. Soooo chunky! That’s what they were promoting on their handwritten sign and I’m starting to think that’s a pretty good tip — order whatever’s handwritten. I wrote my daughters a letter all about the chunkiness of the pozole and sweetness of the agua fresca and how happy about it being their birthday I felt while playing tennis.

Published by MarkGozonsky

Mark Gozonsky is the author of The Gift is to the Giver: Chronicles of a 21st Century Decade (Keppie Usage, 2022). His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Sun, and Lit Hub. Mark’s essay, “Gritty All Day Long,” is anthologized by Norton and featured in Best American Sports Writing. He has been writing since his emergence as a gigantic music nerd in early-1970’s San Antonio, Texas. Stints as a regular commentator on public radio’s Marketplace and Internet 1.0 exec preceded a 20-year run as a public school teacher. Marko’s favorite writing topics include unorthodox pedagogy, well-intended gardening, and the intersection of baseball and urban bicycling. He lives with his wife in Los Angeles, where he is working on a new book about his quest to play tennis on every free public court in LA.

2 thoughts on “#456 Sequoia Park, Monterey Park

  1. The altitude of Monterey Park is a big bonus. Views and less gravity.
    Happy Birthday to C. and L…may you always be blessed with Tennis Tales.
    Pozole envy. The food segment of your quest is making LA a tempting destination.
    Video is always a plus. Hearing you speak the quest increases my appreciation for the magnitude of this project.

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