What Made Yoshi Play Tennis and the Story of His Playing Days

Australian Open Tennis Grand Slam is on the way and we Almanackers have been encouraged to write about tennis. It is time for me to get into the new writing topic following footy, cycling, soccer and cricket.

At my mid to late twenties, I played tennis so hard. Frequencies were between once and three times a week. I liked playing tennis so much these days.

I was not good at playing sports when I went to school and university, apart from cycling. So why did I choose to play tennis in the mid-nineties?

At secondary and high schools, I liked girls who played tennis. They were pretty, I thought. But unfortunately I had no luck with ladies – even now I have not met the right woman. I hope I will soon kill this women curse that I believe is heavier than infamous Jeff Kennett Curse in the near future (if you have any advice for me on impressing the ladies, making comments would be much appreciated)!

Confessing here, I chose to play tennis at the time because I wanted to meet pretty girls or beautiful women at tennis clubs. However I tried to learn well and play the sport hard at the two-month tennis classes. It was okay, I can recall.

After finishing the program, I was lazy for a while. Then two years later in 1997, I was very stressed at work because I was not able to have good relations with colleagues or perform well. Then I decided to join a tennis club.

As a beginner, fellow members in the similar levels were good, but advanced people were looking down on me, I felt. It also could be due to the cross culture (I lived in a small city called Obihiro in the East Hokkaido of northern Japan where I had not lived before due to the job). Then one of experts suggested me to take classes to improve as the club was not supposed to train players.

The tennis school* over there was great to join. People were nice and it did not take time to get along well with the other students.

Technically, it was hard for me to adjust and position myself  so that I could hit the ball well with the appropriate angles for volleying. Serving was hard to do because of poor motor coordination on my shoulder – I broke my spine at the age of seven in 1980 and believe the incident affects my serve and throwing the ball upwards.

But running around the court was fun and I felt fulfilled when I was able to catch a ball and hit back to the opponent. Seeking good positions to make the ball bouncing is interesting in playing the sport.

In the autumn of 1997, I joined the morning training session at the club as an enthusiastic player. When running in the court to catch a ball, my left foot moved so quickly in a shoe and then I felt pain. I left it for a while because I thought that it would heal naturally. But it did not. A part of my toe nail was broken and eventually I saw a doctor. I got external medicines trying to let it come out. However it did not happen and I had to ask the doctor to repair the damage.

It sounds like I would have to be off the tennis court for a while, but my enthusiasm for playing the sport won over such conditions. I kept playing and had nothing to worry! I was young and energetic.

I really enjoyed playing tennis at my youth and found the sport was interesting and great exercise.

Then I started playing in some competitions, but did not perform well. I should have had a coach who not just taught me technique, but also was a mentor mentally.

In March 1998, I had to farewell my fellow players at the club and tennis school because I was transferred at work to another city. Playing tennis was continued, but making friends in Kushiro was hard…

In the last year I was there, I joined a competition played by tennis school students from both Obihiro and Kushiro (both two schools are sister premises) in a countryside. We competed in mixed doubles matches. My teammate was a receptionist who was also a student at the same school in Kushiro. As the game was played at the last part of the competition, everyone was watching our game. We were about to win, but I was inexperienced and felt under pressure. We were like West Coast in the last quarter of round six in 2014 against Carlton. We lost. The opponents were like the Blues in that footy match. Lucky the Carlton club song was not played at the tennis court!

After the competition, we had a party in Obihiro. I talked to other members whom I had met before at the school in Obihiro (when I worked there) and their friends. But I was embarrassed for the losing match. Indeed there was no post match presser and I did not need to be a grumpy coach like Mick Malthouse or Alastair Clarkson.

Following year, I faced company’s transfer again and moved to Sapporo. I joined a tennis club and two schools. At the first school, I joined some two-day summer tennis camps that I enjoyed. But making friends through tennis was not easy for me either.

Even joining a competition (doubles) was not friendly for me because I could not find a partner (in previous schools, I was able to enrol just myself and the partner was chosen under a ruffle).

Sadly my enthusiasm of playing tennis went down and faded because I was not able to make new friends or join a competition. In autumn 2003, just months before leaving Japan to move to New Zealand, I left the tennis school.

Since then I have played tennis only a few times, but still wish to play again. I may play again in the mainland of Japan, but I will find a club where western people are involved. If I were in Melbourne, I would join social tennis, like which the MCC offers at Junction Oval. Also I would love to organise social tennis andor a tennis competition for Almanackers.

Playing tennis is fun and I suggest you to play. It would be good if Almanackers enjoy playing a sport as well as writing articles. Can I suggest the Almanac administration to have such socialising?

It seems that my enthusiasm of playing tennis never fades…


* Please note that tennis schools in Japan seem to be different from Australian tennis institute where talented players get train to be professional players. Those in Japan are open for public to improve their skills in tennis.

** I tried to write something from Lorde’s Tennis Court, but its lyrics are not related with playing the sport. I am disappointed…

About Yoshihiro Imagawa

Love, passion and pride are seen on the footy that is the biggest part of my life. 1. St Kilda Club member: I am a passionate and crazy Sainter. Just hope we will win the second flag soon, especially after Dogs and Tigers having ended long premiership draughts. 2. The Osaka Dingoes Player and Public Relations Officer: Player number 44 that I chose to honour Stephen Milne with my wish being like a small forward like him. Lenny Hayes' hardworking attitudes are adopted on my trainings and practices. Nick Riewoldt's great plays are in my player audiobook too. 3. Writing: Here on the Almanac and also on the World Footy News. My skills utilise on great footy websites.


  1. Philip Mendes says

    Cool story – are you a big fan of Nishikori?

  2. G’day Phil,

    Thanks for your compliment. I had not been a big fan of Nishikori, but think he is a cool guy as he visited St Kilda Footy Club this week.

    I am a big fan of Samantha Stosur and happy that she supports the Saints too (she went to the same school where Nick Riewoldt attended in Queensland).

    What about you?



  3. Philip Mendes says

    Yoshi – very fond of Sam Stosur, but find her matches excruciating to watch. Her recent freeze in the Brisbane International against Lepchenko was the worst I can remember. If ever you make it to Melbourne, get in contact and we can organize a tennis match.

  4. Lovely story Yoshi. I’ll have a word to John about increasing social sport – a great idea.

  5. G’day Phil and Ned,

    Thanks for your comments and sorry for the late respond.

    Phil – I did not keep up with the Brisbane International and am sad to hear about Stosur’s performances. Yes, it is a good idea to organise a tennis match.

    Ned – thanks for your compliment and supporting my idea about having social Almanac tennis!



  6. Emma Westwood says

    I love your honesty, Yoshi, and your determination to play and write about all sports. You are very brave – us Australians could learn a lot from you. There must be a story around breaking your spine? Please tell…

  7. Hi Emma,

    Thanks for your compliment on my story and I love your story of Mats too!

    To be honest, i try to overcome fear and instead to take new challenges. I see many Australians take adventures and want to adopt their good attitudes.

    As for breaking my spine, it happened while running around a small park in the summer of 1980. It was Sunday afternoon, so I had to wait until the following day to see a doctor. A surgery was not required, but it took months to heal. Even now I sometimes put my right hand on the lower back making a V shape of my right arm for my comfort.

    Do you play tennis, Emma?

    Thanks :)


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