Tennis Courts Are Like the Ocean

Paintings and text by Maya Muñoz
Adapted from Racquet No. 20

Tennis courts are like the ocean. Or a landscape. I grew up in California, so I love the vastness of the West Coast. I am drawn to empty places. A tennis court evokes the same emptiness as the ocean or uninterrupted land. It gives me solitude. A sense of peace.


Just before the pandemic, I moved back to Bicol, the province in the Philippines where I was born. Before that I lived in Manila. During lockdown I would pass the Albay Ligñon Hill Tennis Club during my morning walks. I didn’t think much of it then. Eventually the courts became a subject of mine.


Tennis used to be more common in the Philippines in the 1980s and ’90s. These days when I go to the courts I see mostly old men playing the game. I actually love it, but it’s a senior citizens’ sport here. The men play tennis and the women do ballroom dancing.


I also like the crazy colors they paint the courts here. Purple like Barney the dinosaur. And pink: That one just gave me a headache.


Aside from how it feels to be around empty courts—solitude, loneliness, and a certain…heaviness—I love the lines: the parameters and what they mean when you play the game.


I love empty pools for the same reasons. They’re sad.


Maya Muñoz was born in 1972. She studied painting at San Jose State University. In 2003, she relocated back to the Philippines. She is a recipient of the Ateneo Art Award and has been exhibiting with The Drawing Room, Artinformal, and Silverlens Galleries since 2007. She lives and works in Bicol, Philippines.


Issue No. 20