One last thought about flings. Tennis and I have usually had an on-again, off-again love affair. I don't play tennis nearly as often as I should, and when I do, it's usually during the peak time in the summer during and after Wimbledon. I'd start to play, and then I'd start to play well enough to think I could be the next John McEnroe or the next Andre Agassi. And then fall would come, the weather would start turning cooler, school would start and the racket would go back to the closet collecting dust.

My flirtation with tennis sprang up again this summer when I responded to an ad in the newspaper for a six-lesson deal at a local tennis club — a club that, ironically enough, was founded by one of this magazine's advisory board members. Plus, the club is located in the same building as a Bally Total Fitness, which I've come to know all too well while covering the company for the magazine. I took this as a sign that, as far as tennis and I go, fate was on our side.

I didn't have formal tennis lessons as a kid, learning a lot of the game by watching it on TV and reading a how-to book by Arthur Ashe (complete with colorful illustrations). I'd either go to the neighborhood park with my brother to play, or I'd hit balls against the side of the house, leaving it in dire need of a new paint job. So I thought if I'm going to take up tennis seriously again (I did play a little in high school), I should take tennis from the top.

When the lessons started, I could tell I was probably ahead of just about everybody else in the class. Aside from flubbing a question from one of the two tennis pros by saying “volley” when I should have said “groundstroke,” I was usually on the ball the entire time. I often heard, “Nice one, Stuart,” from the tennis pros as I was doing drills. One time, after I hit a nifty backhand volley at the net, one of them said, “That's excellent, Stuart.” My backhand motion was looking more and more like Roger Federer's classic swing every day. Wimbledon, here I come.

By the fourth lesson, we were doing butterfly drills, where we'd line up in two lines — one on the deuce side of the court and one on the ad side — and we'd hit a couple of forehands and backhands before rotating back to the end of the line. For the first time in my life, I felt like a teen-aged Russian girl at one of Nick Bollettieri's camps in Florida.

This is where the fling starts to take a turn. I was excited when they passed out sheets to sign up for four more lessons. However, I later learned that to take the four lessons, I had to sign a one-year membership. That was too steep a price to pay for me. I'm already a member at my local Jewish Community Center, although that was mostly so my daughter could get on the waiting list to attend pre-school there. (I like to think of it as buying a personal seat license at a pro sports stadium before buying the season tickets.)

Plus, the fifth lesson — where we ran more than in the first four lessons combined — re-emphasized my complete lack of endurance. Also, my heels started to hurt, another enthusiasm killer. I lasted through the sixth lesson pretty well, though, and when it came time for our tennis “party” the next night, I was rockin' and rollin', making shots left and right during actual doubles matches.

The best thing about the tennis lessons was that I got exposure to a professional tennis club, I honed my skills and I got to sweat a little bit. Hey, it beats sitting around the house all weekend.

Where tennis and I go from here is anybody's guess. I might try to play on the weekends every now and then. Or I just might let my racket stay cozy in its cover, shielding it from the dust in the closet, waiting for the next fling.