Sorry for lack of updates this month. I've still been attending my 2 weekly clinics, but I've had other things on my mind recently. Today I've got some cool stuff to talk about though.
First off, my club is holding a tournament at the beginning of next month. I think I'll be signing up for singles and doubles. Going to call my "mentor" later this week and see if he wants to be my partner for the doubles event. I mentioned I played with him a bit recently somewhere in this thread. Figure we get the best of both worlds, wisdom and experience from an older more experienced player, but the hustle and energy of a younger guy
So what else am I writing up for this post? Well, I got my first experience of my club's league tennis today. I was called up earlier in the week by my friend asking if I could sub for a match today. Was my first competitive match in a long time really. Since high school I guess. Anyway, I ended up playing an older guy with a junkball pusher game. I'll give a bit of a match report in the next few paragraphs.
Don't know if I was super nervous or what during our warmups, but I had a lot of trouble returning his shots. Lots of awkward spins and I just didn't expect his shots to come through the court like they did. If I wasn't nervous to start things off, I was a bit scared after that.
Onto the first set! My first service game was a complete breeze. Made practically all of my first serves and wasn't pressured at all. He just had a lot of trouble returning. 1-0 to me From the warmup serves he took, I was pretty sure he wasn't going to be bombing serves. I took my usual returning position but used a longer but still compact swing. Didn't have much trouble with him this game and I ended up taking a 3-0 lead to start off our first set. Here's where he started bothering me though. He was extremely quick to go for his 2nd serve (a dinky one). This caught me off guard twice before I realized what was up, after that I had no whatsoever with his 2nd serve really. The part that bothered me the most was when his first serve would hit the net and start rolling back. He would look at it for a while, and I'd be thinking are you gonna pick the ball up or what? Soon as I start thinking he's dinking his 2nd serve over. The same thing would happen if I went to pick up a ball too. I would be at the baseline not even in my returning position and he would be serving the ball sometimes. It's not something that bothered me in terms of playing against it, but mentally I felt like he was trying to pull some gamesmanship shenanigans. There's also another reason for this that I'll get into later.
Okay, back to the first set! He was able to hold serve for 3-1, and I had another easy time holding to make it 4-1. A lot of cheap points off the first serve that set me up for forehand winners
I was also having no trouble taking his junkballs and taking charge of rallies, getting him side to side while keeping myself on or inside the baseline to take time away from him.
Unfortunately, things started to go off the rocker a little bit
I started missing some shots, dumping forehands into the net, missing some putaways. Was frustrating, but I never lost my cool. I've always been like that...Things go wrong I don't get paranoid, but I think maybe I don't think through things as much as I should when they do turn bad. Soon enough we were at 4 all. One of the reasons I ended up getting broken was due to a drop in first serve % and the effectiveness of the first serves I was actually making. So, I relaxed, told myself to hit the serve like I know I can...bam. easy service game for 5-4. I also had no trouble breaking to take the first set 6-4. Think I had a cheeky dropshot winner of his 2nd serve in that game, but I don't remember for sure :P
Started off serving in the 2nd set no problem. Unfortunately, things turned again and I ended up facing 1-3 or so. More dumped shots and misses , and a few poorly executed trips to the net to boot! I worked my way back into things getting things back on serve, but here's where another problem game up. This guy had been forgetting the score the entire match. I was always on the ball with it and corrected him when he was serving/returning from the wrong court. I wasn't sure if he was trying to pull gamesmanship crap on me or not, but having that thought in my head didn't help. So what happened? Well, to start I had some nice bh winners off his serve (3-4 for the match.) He was serving down 15-40 and called the score ad out. I figured okay Considering I had 2 points to break, except when he won the point to make it 30-40, he called it deuce! I'm thinking is this guy trying to swindle me or something, or is he just a forgetful old guy. No clue, I ended up giving him the benefit of the doubt, and after a long fought game he ended up holding serve. We ended up exchanging breaks for the latter part of that set, and he ended up winning it 7-5. Wasn't happy with the errors I was making. He was getting a lot of balls back with junk spin and at times I was getting thrown off again by the ball's court penetration (or lack thereof).
We ended up playing ~3 games of a deciding set before time was up. I couldn't even get my shots together and it was not very fun for me
Think the junkballing finally got to me. And I'm still thinking about if this guy was trying to pull moves on me since this was my first time subbing for a league match. I know how much guys will do to get an edge in stuff like this, but I dunno what to think of this guy. The good news is, when I was playing at a decent level I was winning points no problem. Good sign for my ambitions to play in the singles league as a regular.