Sometimes, it's the smallest thing: the court, the surroundings, the crowd. It's why Pete Sampras racked up seven Wimbledon titles, and a slightly lower number of French Open titles. Like none, actually.
That's why my doubles partner and husband (yeah, it actually works!) and I decided to take our show on the road. No doubt, the 'burgh has been very, very good to us, but together, we're about 0-349 in tournaments. We're both 3.5 players, but usually have to play in open draws if we want to play together. However, since it's open, we could run into a college player (and sometimes two) in the second round. I don't think I have to tell you how that generally turns out.
Anyway, we set out to find a tournament that, essentially, we could win. We've actually done this before, too. There was South Carolina a couple years back. Ha. I think the courts there were made of the stuff they make superballs with. And then there was West Virginia, where we lost in the semis to a guy serving from a tree and a woman who chirped "C'mon!" about three times -- per point.
This time, it was Akron, Ohio, home of the rubber. I mean rubber, like tires. Sorry. Of course, you never know how things'll turn out in a visitor's court. But when we walked into the Towpath Tennis Club and saw this --
you realize this could be your kind of club. Way to feel pretty, Maria.
This was a one-day tournament, and we'd definitely had our hands full.
Our first round was, um, interesting. We started at 11 a.m., and we're not really morning people. That still counts as morning. My husband basically played like crap, and for once, I was the more solid player on our team, although not by much. The woman on the opposing team had a cream-puff serve that Jerry couldn't return for some reason. We lost the first set in a tiebreak, and we noticed that at the beginning of the second set, the woman started off serving.
Jerry whispered to me, "Why's she serving first?" Before I could answer him, he hit his serve return into the net. "Do you know why now?" I answered.
Jerry did get his game going, and basically, what that means for him is that he's hitting people with overheads. We barely won the second set, by breaking the serve of the guy, surprisingly. Then there was the stupid-tiebreak. It's still stupid, even though we won it.
Our second round match might have been the best we'd played together. Remember what I said about Jerry getting his game going? Well, he managed a first, as far as I'd ever seen. He hit an overhead at our male opponent, which bounced off the court, and into said opponent's, er, jewels. (Fortunately, he's already got four kids.) When Jerry asked him if he was all right, he said, "I will be." Now, ladies, especially mixed doubles ladies, I ask you: What does that comment mean to you? If you said, "Time to watch your face," you'd be wrong. Dude never came at me, and at the end of the match, I found out why. This guy thought I was the better player on the team! If I hadn't hit a couple good shots early, I would still be pulling ball fuzz from my teeth.
So on to the final. For the trophy, we came up against a strong female player and a talented lefty who was playing his fourth match of the day already. I can't stand playing lefties. We played a very tight first set, only to have our opponent double-fault on our set point. Glad to see it, too, because I played the worst match of the day. We managed to wrap it up in two sets, and Jerry didn't do too much damage. Just a kidney shot to the lefty.
Basically, we left with a trophy, and our opponents left with bruises. That's really how you want to get your first tournament.