9/10/2018

Put the Hat in the Ring

I went down pretty hard.  The bags of food balanced on the handlebars went everywhere.  The bike took a spill.  Injured wrist & shoulder.

Perhaps self sabotage.  Was flying out the next day.  To play a tennis tournament.  In Long Island.  National Indoor Clay, Under 35's.  I decided to go anyway.

Although won a lot of matches locally, national stage is different.  Most of these players knew each other.  As they played each other for years.  At the college level.  Pros.

I arrived at the club early.  Hit with a guy.  Decided to enter the doubles draw.  My opponent was driving in from DC, was late.  Tournament director let the match be delayed for hours.  Got a chance to watch some good matches.

My opponent arrived, went to the courts, indoor clay.  I got waxed.  Didn't get a single game.  My doubles partner probably thought about backing out.  As we had to play the number one seed.  individually both ranked in top 10, doubles, top 5.

Warmed up, each person won their serve.  The ball moved fast, quick points.  I served with full force, regardless of the pain.  Went to a tie breaker first set.  They squeaked it out.  Went on to win the 2nd set.

For me, still a victory.  To be on the court with top players in the country, gave a good fight.  No regrets.

We got a doubles ranking for that match, nationally.

Later that year, the National Outdoor Clay tournament in Daytona, FL, drove for this one.

Played a different guy from DC, I won that match.  Next match, one of the top seeds, same guy we played doubles in NY earlier that year.  Played a tough match, yet it wasn't enough.  He said after the match, he didn't remember the 2 handed backhand first time around, "your two hand backhand is a weapon".

Dropped into the consolation bracket.  Won the the next match.  Then played a guy from Boston.  We had similar game, get everything back, run down every ball, both had strong backhands.  I went up early, won the first set, he won the second.  It was real hot that day, took a break between sets.  By that time, lots of spectators watching, clapping, lots of long points.  After 2.5 hours, we shook hands, he went on to the next round.

I said, "I thought I was in pretty good shape, but you seemed to be in better shape."  He replied, "I told my coach I didn't want to lose due to fitness."  It worked.

Finished out the year with Florida ranking, National ranking both singles and doubles.  Also taught lessons around town, fill in for other teaching pros, group lessons, kids, moms, adults, private lessons.

After meeting my wife, decided to go back to work doing Crystal Reports consultant job, day after I accepted offer, got another offer to teach tennis full time at one of the clubs.  Had to decline.  And set down the rackets, again.

That was a good ride though.  Rose the ranks locally, singles and doubles leagues, local tournaments, and finally national tournaments and stint as teaching pro.  Teaching was a great opportunity and I enjoyed time on the courts.

That was 14 years ago.  Would be tough to find time to get back into tennis at that level.  Then again, you never know.

And so it goes~!