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"His mother said it was my ball to hit, and it happened because I didn't run for it," Barbara says. "She was probably right."
The President-elect is noncommital. "Popped the shoulder out," he says. "Separated it."
"After that they moved the porch," Barbara says.
Bush has been playing tennis since he was about five, which is hardly surprising considering the tennis heritage in the family. His mother, who is now 87 and living in Hobe Sound, Fla., was a national caliber junior player—Bush describes her as very much a "scrapper"—more than 70 years ago. Her uncle Joe Wear, the court-tennis champion, was the nonplaying captain of the 1928 and 1935 U.S. Davis Cup teams. At home in Greenwich, Bush had early lessons—as did other members of his family—with the Czech-born club pro, Karel Kozeluh, whose standard advice, as Nancy Ellis recalls, was "bend ze knees, move ze feet, keep ze ball in play and in doubles hit ze ball down ze middle." Often Kozeluh would establish his authority by announcing mysteriously, "I beat Budge."
Bush's mother, though, was the prime influence. "Sportsmanship was a big part of what she taught us," the President-elect says. " 'Boys! Boys!' she'd call out if someone got out of hand. If you scaled your racket across the court, you were history. Once, playing in the finals of a Kennebunkport tournament when I was about 10, my uncle Herbert Walker and his wife, my Aunt Mary, came to watch. At one point Aunt Mary started laughing at something. I turned and ordered her off the premises: 'Out!' Mother was very upset when she heard about it. I had to go and tell Aunt Mary how sorry I was that I had done such a thing."
And did Aunt Mary leave the premises?
"Yes, certainly," Bush says. "She got up and left. It must have bothered my conscience because I didn't win the match—beaten by a kid named Squash Collins."
"Yes. I wonder what's ever happened to Squash Collins."
Bush stopped playing singles not long after grade school and concentrated on doubles, largely because his ground strokes were "terrible." Today, his backhand is almost nonexistent, except for a chip return of service that drops at the feet of the oncoming server and that he refers to as the "falling leaf." The net is where the President-elect is utterly at home, fast of reflex and aggressive, and he will come in at every opportunity, even behind a second serve or a falling-leaf return.