Most of our league matches require about a half-hour drive for me, which is not a big deal. There is one red-headed stepchild, which means half our teams have to make about a two-hour drive to play a match. That's not an exaggeration. In the hottest weather we've had all year. Yeah. Woo-hoo.
In a situation like this, though, you've got to think the home team comes up a little short. I mean, after a two-hour drive on a route that's mostly under construction, visitors are pretty miffed that they had to go through that, and they'll be damned if they lose. Our team actually made it to the courts before the home team, and we were fired up, all right. But I think that had to do with the fact that it was 88 degrees, and that there were no trees offering shade on the courts.
Anyway, I played singles, and I have to admit to gulping a bit when I saw my opponent. She was built like a softball player and looked like she had plenty of power. Then, while we're warming up, she's hitting a ton of topspin, so that every ball coming to me is like a lob. I returned exactly none of them into the court.
But here's where it gets strange. This time last year, I'd be freaking out mentally at this point. I'd be thinking (already) about double-faulting. When we started our match, and I missed an early volley, I remained relaxed. That's good, isn't it? It was, but I kept thinkin to myself, "Why am I so calm? Am I going to get nervous?" I really hope there's someone out there who's been through this before, or it means that I'm losing it. After years of league play, I stop getting too nervous to play well -- and that worries me!??!
Well, besides my usual double-fault serve game (in which I serve at least three) per match, I kept my head. I went for my shots when they were there, and blocked back shots when I had to. The really exciting part is that I appear to be thinking while I play! If you've been following my league travails, you know that this is huge. I make mistakes -- and I recover from them! Big plus: Our team made the two-hour journey home as winners. I am sorry, but that's what you get for living two hours from the rest of civilization and forcing us to come out and play.