About my father’s record collection and my mother’s tennis racket.
Object Relations: Essays and Images.
Edited and photographed by Stephen Inggs | Michaelis School of Fine Art, 2014.
Reprinted in Monday Monthly | 1 December 2014.
…It is a Prince Pro, with a dark frame and a brown grip. Once, in the 1970s perhaps, it was cutting-edge, the era when my mother was wielding it from the baselines of the Rec Club (she was never much of a net player), dispatching her trademark cross-court slices. The grip seems to be the original, and is worn smooth like old wood by the serves and volleys, the ceaseless changing between forehand and backhand, rough or smooth, p or d.
The shape of it seems different to the chunky, oval power rackets of today. The surface area is generous, splaying open from the moulded plastic struts where prince is embossed. The top of the frame has been scuffed a great deal by hard gets on hard-surface courts, revealing the base material to be aluminium, silver below the dark paintwork in a band from 10 to 2. But the strings are in good condition, a healthy dental yellow that convinced me to try the racket out a while back.
This I regret: not because I lost the game, nor because it resulted in a structural crack low down on the PRO side. It is because, holding it up to the light now, I am reminded that tennis rackets retain small filaments of tennis ball where the strings cross. And if I hadn’t played with it, those yellow strands caught in the net of gut would unquestionably have been from my mother’s wily cross-court slice, which was something she still could do even when she was losing her memory, which was one of the last things.