Guymon has taken a knee, as if in prayer. And not just any Guymon, mind you. Partner at Management 360 Guymon. Game of Thrones Executive Producer Guymon. This Guymon.
I’ve weened him off his lame two-hander, explaining in no uncertain terms he’s a grown man who needs to free up his arms and get out of his own way. I take it easy on the ad side of the court as part of his learning curve, put the ball in the strike zone where he can have some success coming over the ball instead of just slicing it back. Most folks fail to lower the shoulder well enough in advance to aggressively measure the ball only to jerk up too fast and fall backwards, shortening the follow through to produce a weak shot if not shanking the whole thing in general by not watching the contact. And don’t even get me started on dead arm. Dead arm as it applies to the off-hand doing nothing when attempting a topspin one-handed backhand by Guymon or anyone else.
The good news is Guymon’s respectable off the other wing. Respectable enough to run him out wide repeatedly to the right to rip forehands and feel like a player. Guymon is tall, a good 6’5, and lanky, so he can generate some action for a few shots before he inevitably runs out of gas and takes a knee, like now. Call it the quarterback position, as I’ve characterized Guymon calling a time out to his pal, Marty. The same Marty responsible for the Twilight franchise who now refers to Guymon as “Guymout” since hearing what terrible shape he’s in for a fellow aspiring mogul in his early forties.
Guymon pays me ninety bucks to hit for an hour once a week, usually Saturday afternoons on Court 3 or 4 at the front of the club. In fact, when confirming times with me via text Guymon never fails to ask, show court? I do my best. Hitting is the tennis pro speak equivalent of sparring, as opposed to an actual lesson. Today we are hitting on 3, the showiest of the two show courts. He seems especially low energy. Probably drank more than usual, even though usual is more than a lot. But he’s here, so that’s something. And my money’s the same, either way.
“You’re not really show court material today,” I tell him.
Guymon is now flat on his back, breathing labored. He’s got a nasty belly sweat soaking through his cotton T-shirt.
“You play poker?” he asks.
“I don’t know how.”
“You don’t know how to play poker?” Guymon is incredulous.
“I have never played poker.”
Guymon rolls over on his side, leaving a wet mark on the court.
“That’s kind of cool, bro.”
Guymon recounts his exploits late into the night before. He’s part of some regular Hollywood game featuring guys likes Todd Feldman at CAA, super producer Scott Stuber, and, of course, Marty. He’s not asking me if I play to invite me, but just a way to remind me he could if he wanted to but never will.
“I owned Bowen last night.”
Marty, meaning Marty Bowen, is never far from Guymon’s mind.
“Was he counting drinks and cigarettes?”
“Come again, pal?”
“Marty has a habit of recounting the prior night’s self-abuse to me on the tennis court at seven in the morning.”
“Like ‘last night I smoked five cigarettes and drank four beers.’”
“He does that?”
“Five cigarettes and four beers would be a weeknight.”
Guymon returns to his feet and sits next to me on the bench. He takes a sip of coffee from the King’s Road cup he brought with him and checks his phone. I already know he’ll forget to pay me since his coffee, his phone and the keys to his 6 Series BMW are all he’s brought with him on to the court along with a couple of rackets I sold him at “a bro discount” a while back. He’s good for it, but I find it amusing the way these have it alls have no problem taking their wallet with them into grab a coffee but conveniently leave it in the car when it comes to me.
He checks a text while I finish off a half-eaten Cliff Bar in my bag before returning to opposite ends of the court.
“Zero zero,” I say.
We play rally games to eleven. Point starts after he makes the first shot off my feed. No serves. Guymon’s serve sucks. It should be much better considering his size, but he says he’s got a bad shoulder. I don’t really want to teach him how to serve anyway. Too much work on my part, so the shoulder excuse works for both of us.
“C’mon Casady,” Guymon says.
“He’s going third person early.”
“Beat this guy.”
I drill a ball to his backhand he doesn’t know what to do with. Then another.
“Never go full surname to eleven.”
By the time I’m at seven points to Guymon Casady’s two, he’s on one knee again, right hand leaning on racket and left hand raised to signal another Guymout. I grab the ball mower and begin cleaning up the mess on his side of the court. There are basically two kinds of clients any tennis pro knows: those who help pick up balls and those who don’t. Guymon falls squarely into the second category. It’s not that he’s a bad guy. Not at all. Just something that’s never crossed his mind, if I had to guess.
“Seven two,” I say, before wheeling the balls back to the fence on my side of the court to resume play. Guymon rolls over like a seal in the service box in order to get up.
I keep it to his forehand for the most part over the next few points. He wins a couple before going down 11-4 and finding a spot to lean up against the back fence in the shade. He shouldn’t be this out of wind. I’ve suspected for a while he may have some underlying health issues besides just being a highly functioning Hollywood drunk. But it is not anything he wants to hear.
“You return a game to eleven and we’re done.”
Guymon picks the trucker hat he wears turned around backwards off the court. He then gets up and walks over to the bench. He’s conserving energy by not speaking, something I’ve seen from him before. He doesn’t seem to have enough left to check his phone again either. He reaches for his coffee when my phone starts buzzing from inside my bag, which I ignore. I’ve made a practice of putting my phone away in the company of paying clients. Guymon spills some coffee on his leg while sipping it through the tiny whole in the plastic lid.
“Let me guess, no cigarettes and no idea how many drinks?”
My phone buzzes again, and again.
“Your thing’s blowing up,” Guymon says, as if granting me permission to look. Truth is he could use another minute or two to catch his breath. When I pull the phone from a side pocket in my racket bag, I see that I’ve received texts from a few other clients while we’ve been hitting, Marty among them.
I show the text to Guymon, who shakes his head. “Fucking owned him.”
Over and out. Guymout.