Pssssst! Topaz! Are you out there? How has your 2009 been going? Over here across the river, it's been tough sledding. I'm losing. A lot. Ladies 3.5 Day -- 2-4 Mixed 7.0 -- 2-3 Combo 7.5 -- 0-4 Combo 6.5 -- 4-2 Oh sure, I have my excuses. Two of the mixed losses were because my partner has chronic ankle problems. One loss was a retirement at 1-3, the other one should have been a retirement. And sometimes there is no excuse, like my sad double-fault on set point in a tiebreak. Not only that, my pro is busting my chops. I told him I'd like to try to make it to 4.0 by the time I turn 50. This would require me to fight the effects of gravity, as the natural order of things is to move down as you age, not up. He said we should go for it. I then said I thought we didn't need to work on net play to reach this goal because "I'm good at net." Without missing a beat, he said -- and I am quoting here -- "Who told you that? Those ladies?" Ouch. He then explained that, no, I am not "good at net." This is because my form breaks down when I am under pressure. Having fast hands or getting the racket on a lot of volleys is not the same thing, he explained, as being good at net. Ugh. I'm afraid he is right. So we are working on it, but he is not at all impressed with what he is seeing. And neither am I. There are some bright spots, though. I had a recent killer 3.5 win against a tough team on Court One because I had a solid 3.5 partner (a lefty who plays deuce!). I can get way more serves back in mixed, and it is unusual for me to miss a service return in ladies. My 6.5 team went undefeated and is headed to the state championships in October. And *finally* I can take my forehand cross-court. Best of all, I took a set off of a 3.5 singles specialist friend. Uh huh. I was serving at love-40, 4-5 and won the set 7-5. Which is proof my groundstrokes are getting better. Huzzah! Anyway, it's going to be a tough spring, which is the source of my anxiety. I'm playing on that ladies 3.5 team that wants to go to The Big Show. I'm playing on a new 4.0 team. I've still got the 3.5 team that I captain. And I'm going to stop captaining 6.5 and am starting a new 7.5 team for the fall, so there's some more stress for ya. So that's what's new with me. And you?