Thursday, September 15, 2011

First Week (of the tennis season) Blues

My men’s ALTA team (collectively) had one of our (unexplainably) worst outings to begin the season. Now we played a pretty good opponent, one which took two lines from us last season, but we had a pretty strong lineup and should have done better than 1 point this past Saturday. I certainly should have played better.

Our line 1 got blown off the court which, while unusual, was perhaps the only point we should have lost. Our line 2 pairing won, as usual, but we lost two 3-set matches at lines 3 & 4. Line 4 had a battle on their hands and it truly could have gone either way, but after taking the second set, it appeared as if we had the momentum to finish the job (we didn’t). Line 3 was terribly inconsistent; clearly, we beat ourselves.

Then it was time for my partner and I to take the court. Firstly, you may remember that I spent the off-season playing Ultimate Doubles with my men’s ALTA partner in order to solidify our partnership after winning 4 out of 5 matches – all at line 3 – last spring. Unfortunately, my partner has a new job in the financial sector and, given the crazy market of late, is unavailable for the foreseeable future. Oh well.

So I had been paired with the guy who led me to join this team last summer, someone I’ve both played with and against in practice; he’s a very strong player who usually plays at a lower line to “guarantee” that we take that point. But when I showed up at 11 AM on Saturday, I learned that I was to play with someone else: a teammate I’d only practiced against once, two weeks earlier and never played with in practice. Never underestimate the value of a familiar doubles pairing.

We were playing line 5 which is where one typically runs into “pushers” and/or lobbers. I usually have trouble moving down a couple of lines for this reason – it’s a different kind of tennis – and shortly into the match, after my partner hit one overhead from the baseline into the net followed by a second into the fence and exclaimed “I hate lobs”, I knew we were in trouble. While we didn’t have any trouble breaking their service games, especially in the first set, we also couldn’t hold our own because our opponent was adept at lobbing our serves over the net man. Patient as I tried to be, one of us would eventually go for too much out of frustration and we were toast. I mean, it must have been the worst I’ve played in months. The good news is that I'll be paired this week with a familiar partner, and we won our only match together last spring.

At least USTA mixed doubles starts this Friday, even though I wasn’t available to be considered for the lineup (and thus can't go and cheer for my team) ... another reason for my first week blues.

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