So, my first couple weeks of USTA haven't gone very well. Not exactly the start I'd envisioned. Last year, I managed to win not a single match all season, and now I'm 0-2.
Week 1: The Upper St. Clair team, on their home courts. My opponent: a woman who's hitting floaters. I'm moving in well, trying to take them out of the air, looking for put-away volleys. They find the net. I go down swinging, though (into the bottom of the net) 6-2,6-2.
Here's the best part: We shake hands, and she immediately launches into why I lost. And this is what I love about USTA. Why on earth would you need a coach when every week, you get a different one? Anyway, she goes on about how I made too many mistakes (really?) and how I went for too many "pretty shots" -- which is what I tend to call "topspin," but whatever. She tells me that she just tries to get them over, and then starts bragging about how solid her backhand is. My basic response to that was "Well, I had plenty of opportunities with it." That pretty much, mercifully, ended that coaching session.
I have no problem owning that I'm a sore loser. I'm not a bitch about it, but I'm usually not thrilled about it, especially since I feel like I'm a better player now than I was. And if I ever do win a match, I don't think I'd tell my opponent why they lost. I would assume they don't want to hear it.
Anyway, on to the "grudge" match: Even if there were no sister-in-law thing, I have a real gag reflex when it comes to the country-club types, the ones who wear makeup while they play. And I really hate losing to those fuckers. Apparently, I don't hate it enough. Our home match against Lakevue ended up a whitewash, a 5-0 team loss. I had the #1 singles line, and I admit to making the mistake of checking out their #1 singles player. All her wins so far this year included at least one 6-0 set, and I was no different. I started the first set down 2-0, and managed to get it to 3-4 by holding serve in a game that went to at least ten deuces, and I felt pretty good about myself, and hopeful I could break. It was the last game I won. 6-3,6-0. And who shows up to watch the last game of my collapse, but my sister-in-law? Yep, this loss left a pretty nasty taste in my mouth.
I'm at a real crossroads here. The real battle I begin to fight within myself is "Do I want to win so bad that I'm safer with my shots, playing an old lady game? Or do I want to play my game, win or lose, even if I lose to an old lady who couldn't swing at a ball if it swung first?" Honestly, I want to swing out. And I think that if I did, it would be more than enough to win, but I'm too worried about losing. So I start out playing my game, and I make a mistake. Then I start check-swinging, to an extent. And this is the part of the game that really sucks, when you've improved your physical game so much, but then you realize that the real problem's between your ears. The only way to get past that, in all likelihood, is to lose until you're tired of it. I thought I was. Maybe I've got more losing to do before I start swinging like I swing against my husband, nice and loose.
Alas, next week, my team's on the road, against the team I was on last year. I'm on #2 singles. At 9 a.m. Maybe I won't be alert enough to choke.