Monday, September 26, 2011

A perfect tennis weekend: three up and three down

It isn’t often that the weather is perfect – cool (or at least, not too hot) and clear (no real threat of rain) – and my game (and that of my partner’s) is in sync with it. But this past weekend, I played in 3 different leagues with 3 different partners and the result was the same: a two set victory.

Friday night was my first (our team and my partner’s second) USTA mixed doubles match of the season. This is essentially the same team (and partner) that I played on (with) which just won the 2011 Georgia State Mixed Doubles Championships, and that will be playing in the Southern Sectionals in October, though we’ve lost some key players (because some got bumped to a higher USTA level) from that team. We played at a neighborhood facility not too far from where I live, but a place where I had yet to play. Unfortunately the lighting was poor, but my partner and I were able to follow the example set by the two earlier lines that played: none of our pairings lost more than 4 games and we had the only bagel set, winning 6-0, 6-3.

My Saturday morning men’s ALTA team, if it’s to have a chance to make it into the playoffs, needed to take all 5 lines. Our line 1 played excellently and won in straight sets against a tough pairing and our line 2 was in their third set as my line 3 partner (whom I haven’t played with since last fall) took the court. Although the first set was competitive scoring wise – we won it 6-3 – the second set better reflected our dominance (we won it 6-1) against our opponents, who went for too much and made far too many mistakes. In replaying the match in mind afterwards (as I always do), I counted too few winners by us relative to “unforced” errors by them. Our team took all five lines, so both my Friday and Saturday teams were perfect for the weekend.

Two down and one to go, my “over 50” T2 partner and I played Sunday afternoon, which was clear and quite a bit warmer than the day had begun (in the high 50’s), but was still a less than 80 degree fall day. Since this is the inaugural season of this particular T2 league, and no leveling has taken place, there is no way to tell what kind of opponents we will face. In fact, during warm-up, it looked like we would have to play our best to stay with them. However, we took the first set relatively easily (6-2) by breaking each of our opponents’ once while holding our serves twice. The second set was more challenging: we were unable to break until it was 4-3 us, so it was my time to serve at 5-3. A hold and victory would be ours. Unfortunately, I served from behind throughout the game and went for too cute a shot at 30-40. In fact, I went for too much earlier in the set, which cost us a chance for an early break. A game later we found ourselves at 5 all with my partner having to come up with something special to avoid losing his serve. So, receiving at 6-5 in the second and desperately trying to avoid a tiebreaker, we were able to hang tough. The nerves that caused some careless play on my part earlier were finally felt on the other side of the net and the stronger of our two opponents double faulted on match point to us.

I can't remember a more perfect tennis weekend, when my teams and my partner and I went undefeated … and it feels great!

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