I wasn't sure if I'd freeze while playing at 2'C during winter nights. It's even colder when the wind blows through the tennis courts. I could actually see my misty breath under the lights while panting.
We play at the Jangchung Tennis Courts right at the foot of Nam-san, just across Seoul Club with a view of the Shilla Hotel when you serve, be it an ace or a double fault. Ha-ha-ha! When I think of it: night time, open air, dropping temperatures; it would already give me some chills while I am in a cab on my way to the court. But, there's actually a trick to it!
I used to wear my thick track suit and jacket during our winter games (sounds like the Winter Olympics). But it hampers my movement and the running on the court. There's just too much clothes. Ha-ha-ha! There's a reason why tennis players wear shorts. Or in the case of the female tennis players, very short skirts! Maria Sharapova definitely doesn't wear those skirts just to show off her fabulous legs. But this time, I can now replace those thick, heavy track suits with a flimsy one, and I won't freeze! How? There's a secret underneath: Uniqlo's heat-tech thermals! I am glad I was able to visit their store last month during their 'Thank You' sale! Another tennis superstar, Novak Djokovic, was modelling the thermals on their display actually. He gave me an idea! Now, I can run faster and move my arms better!
Another trick not to freeze out there is to keep moving, keep running and keep warming up while waiting to play. This keeps your heart pumping more warm blood (Type-O in my case. Ha-ha-ha!) into your system. And when you start playing, you'd actually be breaking into sweat! Perspiring outdoors in the middle of a winter night!
Our game usually lasts only for two hours as we reserve our courts from 7PM until 9PM, the time when the guy in-charge of the courts turns off all the lights and closes the place.
And as always expected, after lots of forehands and backhands, lobs, serves and double-faults, including missing some balls, we all get hungry!
And since we're near the Dongdaemun area, we drive to that block between Exits 8 and 12 of the Dongdaemun History and Culture Park, which is full of Korean restaurants, norae-bangs and beer and chicken pubs.
And while I sit there on our dinner table, exchanging stories with my tennis friends, I always ask: 'Who could be luckier?'. Our tennis club pays for the tennis court fees and the new tennis balls, and sometimes, gives away tennis shorts and shoes! And it pays for our dinner and beer, too!
A lucky bunch! So, doesn't love playing tennis on a chilly winter night?