A ray of sunshine catches a glint of recognition
as the watchful crowd leans forward eagerly.
The key players stroll on to court,
nervily nonchalant, for the singles final.
Of similar rank on the world stage,
not a grain of difference between them,
each physique honed to utmost fitness
both are panting for success.
After first ritual phase of eye-in practice,
one is poised to send the first bullet,
scratches his nose, tucks hair behind ear
twice for luck, plays a rhythmic ball dance
before pounding out a blinder,
with a scream.
The bouncing opponent second guesses,
returns at twice the speed.
Cross court, down the line,
drives to change pace and angle.
One sets up approach shot
for a ping pong rally at the net –
you kick my dog, I kick your cat –
volley, volley, lob and smash.
Hours of running, hitting
challenges challenged, right or wrong.
Guilt at a lucky net-cord shot
brings a moment of inattention –
fatal to one, a gift to the other –
intensifies squealing sound effects.
Pow! the victor kneels, kisses the turf.
The crowd roars.