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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