Tuesday, May 22, 2007

League Watch 2007: A season on the brink

My husband, by trade, is a coach. He has likely coached hundreds of children in basketball, and in taking me on as a tennis student, he calls me his "most uncoachable." I don't listen to him, he says, which is not true, but I'm a visual learner. I need to see it to get it.
Then he tells me that I don't look at him when he's showing me something. That is not altogether false. He likes making fun of my shots, and likes to say, "This is how you hit the ball," then offers an exaggerated imitation. So, I don't like looking at that.
Anyway, his biggest qualm is how long it takes me to understand certain things, like the value of good footwork, and how to hit topspin (that only took 2 years). I have to admit he's right on this count. Last Saturday morning, on my drive to our league match in the South Hills, the real problem with my game finally dawned on me.
"You think playing your game is going for broke on every shot and that playing safe is for wimps," I thought to myself. "You can play smart, keeping balls deep and refraining from net skimmers, and still be aggressive when you get the opportunity. That's not playing like an old lady."
I took my new game plan on the court, and shockingly, came off with a win. This is big, folks. I haven't won a league match at the 3.5 level since June 18, 2005, and that was in doubles. I shocked myself in the patience I showed in waiting for my chance to finish at the net, and more surprised that I didn't botch my volleys and overheads. I'm still pretty jacked up about it, I have to say. I feel like I might have picked up another level in my game. But, of course, now the pressure of "Can I do this again?" is probably going to mess with me for a bit. Especially because my next match probably won't be for two weeks.
Now, whenever I have these "revelations," I tell Coach about it, and he sighs, with nearly tangible pain. "How many times have I told you that?"
"What?" I usually respond absently, thinking that my fingernails need to be painted.

(P.S.: The Season on the Brink refers to my team overall, which lost the tie Saturday. We are now 0-4.)

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