2/01/2014

A Tennis Comeback

In 1987 I stopped playing tennis cold turkey.  To take a summer job in Jacksonville Fl.  To save up money for college.  Where I would not be accepting a tennis scholarship.  As my competitive tennis days were over.

And over the next 16 years, I played some tennis on and off, some competitive but not really.

Until talking with a buddy one day, I said I used to be a good tennis player.  He asked me why I wasn't playing.  I didn't have a good answer.  So he said what's stopping you from playing now?

The next day, I peddled my bike over to the closest club.  I asked if I could play tennis.  The lady, looking at me in my street clothes, asked if I knew how to play tennis.  Sure, I said.  Well, we're having a round robin at 1pm today if you're interested.  Sure.

So 1pm I showed up with my racquets and got on the court.  I won my first match, then second, then third, then fourth, I never lost that day.  So the lady's father, the owner of the club, asked me to join the club.  So I did.

And they had a Monday night league and they partnered me with a guy who owned a software company, nice guy.  We won all our matches, then the playoffs, then the finals.  And we repeated again next season.

So I found a league called K-Swiss.  I signed up for the 5.5 level.  The club owner said that was too high a division for me and I should request to be bumped down.  I didn't.

My first match, which was on red clay, something new, I was tight and couldn't find a rhythm.  Lost the first set 0-6, the down 0-5.  On the change over, 1 game away from losing the match, I put the towel over my head, thought to myself, I have nothing to lose, I can beat this guy.  Got back on the court, slammed 4 aces.  Then won the next game, and the next.  Until I won the set 7-5.  And won the third set 6-0.  My first win.

And proceeded to go undefeated the remainder of the season, and won the finals to win a pair of K-Swiss shoes.

So I started to play club tournaments around the state of Florida.  I had some success.  So I signed up for a National tournament in Long Island, NY men's 35 - 40 division.  The day before I was to fly out, I fell off my bike and sprained my wrist.  But I already bought the tickets and hotel so I decided to go.  I lost my first match 0-6, 0-6 to a guy from Virginia.  This did not make my doubles partner happy especially since our opponent was ranked #1 in the nation.

When we got into the doubles match, we fought hard, I played through the pain in the wrist, and we almost won the first set 5-7 and then lost the second, however, the opponents gave me some good compliments and I felt competitive against them.

Then there was another National tournament in Daytona Beach so I signed up.  I won my first match, then played against the same guy from doubles in Long Island, gave him a good match.  He complimented my backhand and said to keep at it.  I won my first match in the consolation round.  And then had to play a guy from Massachusetts.  We had the same style of play, keep the ball in play, deep and avoid unforced errors.  Our match lasted almost 3 hours and he was the victor.  We were both in great shape but he outlasted me which was surprising.

And that was my last real competitive match.  I had already quit my IT job and was teaching tennis full time and doing websites and I met my future wife and because I now had responsibilities, I decided to go back to doing Crystal Reports as a contractor.

Since then I've played a few leagues and the level of play has not gotten back to that year.  For now I have memories of a good comeback and that is good enough.

In 2005 I was ranked #11 in Singles in Florida, #4 in Mixed Doubles in Florida and #36 in the Nation for Men's 35 Singles.

And there you have it.

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