The Time I Cried at a Tennis Show

Photo courtesy of Mark DiLillo
A little bit of background: I hadn’t been into Tennis for a very long time. It was their most recent album at the time, Yours Conditionally, that I had gotten into. I listened to their older records too and discovered my favorite tracks of theirs. Tennis became everything I was looking for in a band in a very short time. Needless to say, when I heard they were coming to Austin to promote said album, I knew it was a show I had to attend.

I went with two of my best friends, Dan and Ashley. Dan and I lived together for three years in college, two of those years in the same room. He and I have similar taste in music and humor, and had genuine camaraderie. We both happened to move to the Austin area after college. It wasn’t long before he met Ashley and sometime later they got married and she became one of my best friends as well. They are the main cats I hang out with when I get some free time to peruse the town.

Onto the show. We entered the building on the brisk February evening during their first song, “My Emotions are Blinding”, which I bring up because of the title of this piece. Not a coincidence. I don’t believe in them; you’ll see why by the end.

It was already a dance party when we joined the crowd. They were nailing every song, we were singing along, and the house mix was astounding. It wasn’t the performance itself that put me into an emotional whirlpool, but the story the singer told before the last song. Tennis is made up of husband/wife duo Alaina and Patrick. Patrick was playing a guitar passed down by his late father, a person they were both close to. He had passed recently and Alaina was telling the crowd about how the death affected them during their musical journey and life in general. The words were spoken through a microphone but they felt as intimate as a campfire story. I felt the chills throughout my whole body.

Suddenly I flashed back to high school. One of my best friends then was named Matthew. He and I got to know each other well in middle school during classes and - wouldn’t you know it - the game of tennis. It was the summer after our sophomore year of high school; we hadn’t played in awhile, and I kept meaning to reach out to him to meet up at the courts. And then I kept pushing it off. Then one day I got a phone call that he had done himself in. Just strangled himself next to a note. Nobody saw it coming; he was as happy-go-lucky as can be. I learned a very crucial lesson that summer as a teenager.

Noncoincidentally I was reminded of that lesson there in that huge Austin venue. Standing in admiration of these musical luminaries, next to my best friends. During a plateaued season of life, when I myself was trying to claw my way up the foothills of the musical industry mountain.

All three of us stood there welling up as Alaina spoke about the importance of the relationship of her father-in-law to them and their music. Faces of people that were important to me flashed into my head as they finished their set, and I’m guessing that happened to a lot of people. The lesson of cherishing those relationships while you still can hit me as hard as the music did that night. And I couldn't have been there with better friends to remind me.
- Mark DiLillo, Welsh Avenue