Monday, January 28, 2013

Glad that January's ALTA is finally over!

Personally, my ALTA record in January is abysmal, at least these last couple of years. Last winter wasn't so bad - I was 3-3 with 6 different partners - but this year I went 1-3 with 3 different partners. All matches were mixed or senior mixed doubles.

On the plus side, after a January 28 loss last year, I went on a winning streak that lasted into the summer senior men's season. So perhaps this year will progress similarly, who knows?

Yesterday's regular mixed match was somewhat demoralizing in that our first place team lost four out of five lines to the third place team. My partner and I played a man that had parked in our neighborhood's handicap space, needed a knee brace and could barely move. However, he was a high A player such that he could get to any ball close to him and rip it for a winner. After dumping the first set at love, we rallied from behind throughout the second before losing it 5-7. I think that we could have won the match if we'd gotten the set to a tiebreaker because we'd finally figured out how to construct winning points. Oh well.

The good news is that our team is still a point ahead of the team that beat us and there are still three weeks to play, so a lot can happen. Our senior mixed team also suffered an anticipated crushing defeat on Saturday as well - losing 3 of 4 lines - so the weekend wasn't a positive one as far as winning doubles matches. Both were home losses, which somewhat compounds the disappointment. But again, we're not completely out of that division yet either, and still have a chance to make a run for the playoffs.

Wish us luck!

Friday, January 25, 2013

ESPN still hasn't learned how to cover tennis - Australian Open

I ranted about this last year when ESPN2 allocated only 2 hours 30 minutes to the men's semifinal matches at the Australian Open, so I won't retype the same diatribe, but apparently the programming "geniuses" at the channels still don't know - or worse, don't care - about tennis fans.

This year I didn't make the same mistake - e.g. trusting ESPN's allocated time while setting my DVR - and added an extra 90 minutes to the recording. Still, it cut off at 3-0 in the fifth set of Andy Murray's 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-2 win over Roger Federer, but fortunately there wasn't a momentum shift in the decider, and I didn't miss the Swiss Maestro's great comeback at the end of the fourth set! Of course, I did miss ALL of Novak Djokovic's 3 set win over David Ferrer the night before because those "geniuses" switched it from ESPN2 to ESPN (and, being out of town, I wasn't able to change my DVR).

My sympathies to those that have yet to learn that ESPN "doesn't know tennis".

Monday, January 14, 2013

Second ALTA weekend much like the first, B-5 tougher than A-8?

For the second straight weekend, our B-5 Senior mixed team split lines with our opponent while our A-8 regular mixed team won all 5 lines without dropping a set. This is curious because - with few exceptions - both teams are comprised of the same players, though the lineups have been different. Of course, it could just be the schedule, but B-5 Seniors seems more competitive than it was last winter.

Unfortunately, my results were somewhat the same as well. On Saturday, my regular mixed doubles partner and I (playing Seniors for the first time together) lost our first ALTA match in 5 attempts (dating back to last winter) just like last Saturday, only at a different line with a different partner; I didn't play on Sunday.

Last year - except for January 28, with an unfamiliar partner - I was undefeated in Saturday matches. My Senior men's doubles partner and I won our 4 matches, my regular mixed doubles partner and I won 2 Saturday playoff matches, and were on our way to winning in the City Finals before our line 4 team clinched the title, then I was undefeated in 4 matches with 2 different partners during the spring men's season and again with 2 partners over 3 matches during last summer's mixed season. However, this year, I'm 0-2 on Saturday after having two 4 match winning streaks (with two different partners) snapped.

I guess my team should be happy that I'll be unavailable to play this Saturday;-)

Monday, January 7, 2013

New tennis year, two new league seasons - a personal update

Saturday I played my first ALTA match since July 27, 2012 and - while my senior mixed men's doubles partner and I lost for the first time in 5 matches (dating back to last winter's season) - it was great to finally be competing again. Sunday was even better as my regular mixed doubles partner and I renewed our successes and extended our ALTA 3 match winning streak from last winter's regular mixed season (the captain of our summer team never paired us!) by winning our match 6-2, 6-2.

Regular readers of these neglected pages know that I played on five ALTA teams in 2012, all of which won their division (and the one I captained won the city); yes, I was blessed with great teammates! But I chose to sit out last fall - for the first time since I started playing ALTA in 2000 - and was injured after playing just two USTA mixed doubles matches that season, so I've had a long road back to playing league tennis again.

Fortunately, our regular mixed doubles captain arranged a seven week series of drills/lessons which started right after I'd had a four week stretch of resting my previously pulled groin muscle and was ready to start playing again. Probably because I wasn't back to 100% mobility - and court coverage has been one of my primary assets as a player - I started swinging my racquet really hard when I could get to the ball during our drills, which I actually believe has improved my game as I've gotten back to full strength. Additionally, our coach - who dubbed me "Lendl" during one practice - encouraged me to follow my strong forehands into the net to finish the point, so I added a new skill that's sure to pay dividends during these and future seasons.

Oh, btw, our senior mixed team split matches with a very competitive opponent on Saturday while our regular mixed team "took 5" yesterday.  Glory to God!