Monday, August 1, 2011

Atlanta Tennis in August … and a few personal updates

August in Atlanta is HOT and HUMID, and playing tennis during this month is not for the faint of heart. The good news for ALTA & USTA members is that regular season tennis is suspended during the month; while playoffs, city finals and state championships are still underway or forthcoming, most players get a break during this hottest month of the summer unless they choose to play T2 or Ultimate Tennis, which is exactly what diehards like my partner and I have chosen to do.

My ALTA mixed team didn’t qualify for the playoffs, but our division’s winner will be playing in the city finals next Saturday. Our neighborhood ladies' USTA 3.5 team continues to play towards a city title and my USTA mixed team is looking forward to playing in the Georgia State Championships in Augusta in a couple of weeks. My men’s ALTA team has begun practicing for the fall season, starting September 10th, but I’ve yet to make it out per other commitments.

Since there was to be this lull in my tennis calendar between seasons, I decided to see if my men’s ALTA doubles partner – we won 5 matches and lost one 3-set match this spring – would like to strengthen our pairing for the fall. We thought about playing either T2 or Ultimate Tennis together from mid-July through the end of August, and decided that the latter was the better choice. In fact, it was a no-brainer given that T2 would have cost each of us $30 and Ultimate Tennis was “free” because of the PGA Superstore gift certificate offer. The downside is that T2 has a more mature league with (presumably) better level consistency and more matches/season, but Ultimate Tennis (IMO) has a better website and scheduling software.

Our first match was played against a couple of good individual players who didn’t appear to have much experience playing doubles together. Though we struggled at the beginning of the match as we learned of our opponents’ weaknesses, we won fairly quickly and easily – both of us made a lot of put-aways at the net. Our second match was played against a couple of veterans, on their courts, where they had significant crowd support (like an ALTA home match), but everyone was friendly and our opponents were very nice. One of them was stronger than the other who, despite being beat time and time again by my crosscourt forehand return at his feet, continued to rush the net after his first and second serves. The first set was tighter than the second, but the result was the same as our first match – a straight set victory which, in Ultimate Tennis, is worth more points than a mere (e.g. 3-set) win. Unfortunately our third opponent withdrew and we weren’t given the option of scheduling a sub, so we’ll get less points and – given a bye week – it’ll be a couple of weeks before our next match.

Since I’ve come to love my new racquet, I decided to order a backup from Tennis Warehouse, which had them on sale. I’m still slightly bothered by the hollow vibration in the handle and how quickly my strings have frayed relative to the racquet I used to play with, but I wanted to have a second racquet for “State” in case I need it. Lastly, I want to whine that my arthritis is no longer confined to my big toe, where it has “bothered” me for a decade – it inhibits me putting on and pulling off my left shoe – but has spread to my hands, neither of which I can fully close. It doesn’t affect my holding a racquet or my game as yet, but I don’t like what this ailment portends.

Hope all is well with you, your partner and your tennis this month!

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