It’s last year this time when I met him as kids took the week long spring break lessons at the sport center in town. He taught Kinglazy’s group. On the last day, he came out during one of the water breaks, and said to me,
“Oh, your son can play.”
Pardon me? I almost felt off the chair, or thought having hearing problem, for Kinglazy is kind of guy who looks for shades on the softball field, and runs from base to base like taking a victory lap, slow and unhurried.
“Oh, yes, he can play. .. come on in and see for yourself..”
I was thrilled. Getting my kids to play tennis or like tennis, is my life’s mission.
I went in. He fed Kinglazy few balls and were all nicely and powerfully returned. Hearing the deafening sound of the ball bouncing off my son’s racket, I was really, you know, happy. Happy beyond believe. After the lesson, he came to chat me up. He was an unemployed prosecutor from Florida; waiting to pass the New York State bar. I was thinking, I thought only the actors or artists are starving. By the end of our brief conversation, he offered me his phone number, and yes he’ll be glad to teach them.
The etiquette or common sense goes, he’s not supposed to poach us from the center. But I didn’t care as long as my kids learn to play tennis and enjoy the game. It turned out they like him. And his salesmanship was somewhat subtle (I’m being sarcastic here).
To make thing easy and help him out I paid 10 lessons in advance. The ensuing summer, between our vacations and his schedules, we only finished 9 lessons by September. Then suddenly, he just vanished, along with his cell phone. Then two months later, late November one night as I walked in at Alley Pond for my Friday night game, I heard the familiar voice,
“Hello Mrs. Eng ..” Martin would never address me as Irene, even I told him early on. He claimed that he lost his phone. Hmmmm. Few days after that he called me (please note, I did not give him my phone number again at Alley Pond.) to say he’s putting 3 girls together for intensive training, and Slowpoke would be a great candidate for the group,
‘They’re going to play tourneys starting this spring .. ‘
Slowpoke’s swimming had just ended and said she’ll continue the tennis with him. So here we are, with him again. Met April and Martha… His price has gone up 12.5% from last year, which is ok with me. But what’s not ok with me is he begins charging the same fee when he coaches two or three girls; and more often than not, he’ll fold his arms around his chest and chatting with others, instead, coaching. Excuse me, I’m neither mean, frugal or dumb. An hour paid is an hour of decent work. If you want to split that hour or two with some other kids, you’ve got to adjust your fee accordingly.
2013: Martin is still around, teaching tennis in my neighborhood.