The Summer I Was Fifteen I Played Tennis Every Day

Steffany Ritchie
4 min readNov 20, 2023

I had ulterior motives

Photo by cottonbro studio:

The summer after my freshman year of high school I played tennis almost every day.

My best friend Jamie and I were a little obsessed with Wimbledon, it was the era of Becker vs. Edberg. She was team Becker: she loved his boisterous, rowdy spirit. I preferred the cool, aloof, handsome Edberg.

She had a park with tennis courts near her house, and these tennis courts just happened to be positioned directly across the street from the boy I had the biggest crush on of my young life.

His name was Jake . He was a brown haired, brown eyed skater boy who was two years older than me who went to my high school.

He was in a band, he had floppy hair, a square jaw, and a shy, unaffected aura for such a stone cold hottie. He didn’t know I existed, and I was kind of ok with that.

For me, he existed on another plane, in a fantasy world that I felt most comfortable nurturing in an invisible swoon.

Other real life experiences with boys were usually disappointing, annoying, or boring, so I was more than happy to keep him in a magic bubble in my head of perfect dreamy romance.

Of course, the more Jamie and I played, the more fun we had with it. We didn’t take tennis particularly seriously, but we did attempt to keep score and hit the ball as best we could. I was even quietly proud of my serve after awhile, which landed in the box more often than not.

The fact she was totally game for stalking my crush with me and had no judgement only sealed our friendship deeper. She had her own ulterior motive in fairness, she had a crush on Jake’s best friend Jeff .

The summer passed by in a fun haze. At sunset we would walk back to her house, or one of our parents would pick us up. We made mix tapes for each other expressing all of our deepest darkest feelings.

After awhile we kind of forgot about our stealth undercover motive for the tennis — it had started as an excuse to spy on Jake, but after awhile, we mostly just had fun together.

We would walk to the nearby ice cream shop/diner for a snack, meander around the park in a loop, hit balls against the wall, and talk and…



Steffany Ritchie

Hi, I write memoir, essays, music, and pop culture. American in Scotland. Accepting coffees if you enjoy my stuff :-)