So, I came down pretty hard on Fed last week when he went schizo at the French Open. How could someone seem so lost, so uncertain on a court? You can't just freak out on a tennis court. Right?
So there I am, up 5-2 in the first set of a league singles match. Feeling pretty good about myself, too, 'specially since I'd beaten my opponent last season. Maybe feeling too good. I drop my service game. Not a big deal. Four terrible returns later, it's 5-4. I blink, and it's 5-all. FIVE ALL!!!
And there kicks in the self-talk. You know what I mean. "You're still all right. Just watch the ball. Move your feet. That's right. Move your ball." Wait.
5-6. Oh, this is special. Now that things have tightened up, I'm having some decision-making, um, concerns. "Go for your shot. No, throw in a lob. A dropper. Make 'er run." Somehow, I indecision my way into a tiebreak, and start off with a 4-1lead. Order is restored. Oop, 4-2. 4-3. 4-all. I don't remember much after that, until I was skulking back to the bench, thirsty, melting in the heat and down one set.
I thought I'd made some real progress with my head game this season. Well, there I was again, doubting my every shot, questioning whether to play it safe or to go for it. Even though I started the second set with a 2-1 lead, I still couldn't get comfortable again. It was between the second and third sets when I noticed the presence of the third man.
Yeah, baby. The heat. My opponent looked like her gas tank was getting empty. And here I am, like a moron, trying to hit return winners. No, no, no. It suddenly became clear that I wanted to prolong points, not keep 'em short. As if to confirm my suspicions, my opponent began to serve-and-volley like a maniac. I hit some passing shots, and stopped rushing my shots, opting instead for the rallies (which I've never had the nerves for). Two and a half hours later, I'd finally snatched victory out of the jaws of victory. Then I curled up in a fetal position on the bench. Really.
OK, so I made it through that near-disaster. What did I learn? First, I need to hit. I never doubted my shots when I was practicing on a regular basis. Now, I've got to think about whether my backhand is going to go over the net. Clearly, there's plenty more on my mind. Speaking of that, the second thing is not to doubt my shots. Yeah, it's what they like to call a Catch 757.
Third, I learned that I can make a comeback! This is helpful, if you're as flaky as I am on a tennis court. It's nice to know that I can win when I'm not at my best, and behind the 8 ball. This tennis thing -- it just gets crazier and crazier.
One last thing (and taking a serious U-turn from the TWA edge): A very happy shout-out to my Dad, who always believes I'm going to win in everything I do. With a dad like that, I can't lose on Father's Day, right? Have a good one, Dad.