Marko at the Net, Chapter 10


hollered Marko after his third overhead of the point, the firmest and best ka-bonggggggggged, was called out by his nemesis, Milton.

“I heard that,” affirmed Big Carl, playing on the next court.

There was no other immediate follow-up. Marko did not harangue. It was just bullshit. Fun to holler. What does immediately arise is the question: three overheads? On a single point? Isn’t one overhead supposed to do the trick?

Oh well. Always learning, that’s our Marko. Good news is, that last one, which really did look in from his side of the net, but whatever, fine: good news is, it sure was right up the middle, and deep.

That was very close to Marko’s goal for the day, which was to hit volleys deep up the middle. He had imagined this was going to require an entire rigmarole, of cajoling some good-natured teammate to feed him balls which he would then swat to the best of his capability towards the center mark (!)

But get this: it took him one attempt to swat a volley right there, yes, right there, oh yes, right on the spot. And then another and then another.


Marko announced to his teammates, “This is Marko 2.0. Volleys deep up the middle.” Their response was tolerant, except for Milton, who told a story.

“Remember Eric, who I was playing with on Thursday?” Marko did remember. Eric served by throwing the ball way way up, at unusual angles, like a mascot firing tee-shirts into the crowd. He also specialized in lobs of absurdly high loft. Tall buildings. Helicopters. Redwood trees. You had time to think of tall things while the ball went up, hung there, came back down. Bounced back up. Talk about a rigmarole. And then you had to attempt to return the thing. It was just ridiculous and ultimately successful as Marko and his partner did not prevail in that set.

Point being, Milton said he was talking with Eric afterwards and Eric asked him if Marko was on Milton’s team, and Milton said yes, and Eric said — this is the key part — “Really? That guy? With all the weird shots?”


I really don’t think Marko should run from this. I don’t think he should try to pass himself off as a big serve-and-volley guy. Newp. Bring on the funk, is what I would murmur to him, with eyebrows raised to signify I have noticed him hitting those volleys deeper.

More good news here: Marko and his frequent match time partner Oliver prevailed 6-0, 6-2 in two sets against Milton and two different partners. Marko has had ups and downs playing with Oliver in the past. However this time, with an attitude made jaunty by hitting volleys up the middle, he told Oliver, “It looks like we’re handcuffed together, so let’s make the best of it.”

And so they did. It’s true that the captain and coach of the team hardly looked their way, but Cap did take note of the score and fist-bumped accordingly. Marko is fine with that. His plan is to be the 7th or 8th-best player on his team by mid-July, because eight guys are going to play at Sectionals. I believe he made progress on that plan with his showing yesterday.

PS The accompanying picture shows Marko with his new for Summer ’22 look, Face Smeared with White Sunblock. This was inspired by a revered tennis elder observing a few days ago that “Marko is white as fuck.” His observation was in support of a larger point, which was that if the crowd storming the Capitol on January 6 had been Black, things would be different. Marko took the point as inspiration for this new fashion, which in his mind is summery and hearkens back to the back cover of Dylan’s Street Legal, which Marko has always felt to be his Dylan album, because it came out when he was 17.

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