Performing a Public Service While Finding a Sub for Tennis

In most of the tennis groups I’ve been in, you need to get your own sub if you’re not playing. By sub, I do not mean that the sandwich, which does sound good; I mean a substitute. You get your own sub so that a doubles game is not left with three players, and, at this stage of my life, I mostly play doubles, though I still enjoy a good singles game.

Vying for an indoor tennis court

On a recent rainy Monday, a friend, Judy, was subbing for one of the regulars. We had a four-way text going due to the bad conditions outside and our efforts to reserve a court indoors at our club. The ding ding ding-ing was very annoying to my poor boyfriend. We had sent emails and called the night before but hadn’t gotten an answer. The club opens at 9, and we usually play at 9 but we would have to play later.

Playing inside protects us, and our skin, from the elements

The bad thing about playing inside is that we have to pay. This particular group plays on public courts, so it is free. It's also less than ideal that it's stuffy inside in the summer. The good thing is there are no “elements:" No wind on which to blame a shot that flies out of bounds, and no sun to bake our skin. I’ve written before about the lengths to which I go to cover up when playing outside. Still, you can’t protect every inch of your body. This brings me to a discussion that I had with our sub, Judy.

I needed a sub for my upcoming skin cancer surgery

In between going back and forth regarding what time we would play if we got an inside court (it turned out to be 10:30 a.m.), I asked Judy if she was still subbing on Monday, Sept. 6. She said she wasn’t and could be available for me. "I’m having more skin cancer surgery and need to get a sub for that date,” I wrote. “This one is on the top of my head, so wear your hats ladies and not visors even though they look cute,” I said. “Just the usual squamous cell carcinoma BTW. For some reason, people who have stem cell transplants are prone to them.” Judy said she could play and added, “Thanks for the advice. I’ll try to find a hat that will fit my big head!” I replied, “I don’t think your head is big or if it is it’s because you’re smart!”

This tumor has been in the making

Who knows when my scalp tumor formed? These things don’t spring up with a marker, such as, “Made in 1975 when you were a lifeguard at a pool and didn’t wear a hat and weren’t given an umbrella or any kind of covering for your head.” Or, “Made in the 1960s when you thought a tan made you look cool and you lay in the sun for hours.” Or even, “Made during all the years of tennis and running when you didn’t wear a hat.” As we know, cumulative sun damage can lead to skin cancer.

This spot went over my head (literally)

I do know that these are sometimes hard to identify because, duh, you can’t see them. I read some studies that, to the layperson, sounded like medical-term-gobbledygook. But one line in a German study made sense: “Early detection is often rendered difficult because of the (dense) hair and the inaccessibility of certain regions to self-inspection. Tumors can therefore remain undetected for a prolonged period of time.”1

My accidental public service

I reported this spot to my dermatologist as a tiny piece of skin that I was playing with. That’s when she did the biopsy that turned out to be another squamous cell. In any case, I’m sorry that I’m going to miss tennis for the usual two weeks but glad that I did a kind of public service by telling my friends that they should wear a hat. I’m sure that my friend Judy the sub will find one to fit her head and am sure that if you, the reader, are hatless, you will be able to find one too. And you and Judy will look simply sublime!

How do you protect yourself from the sun while playing outdoor sports?

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