Wednesday, July 22, 2009

LEAGUE WATCH: The final countdown!

In life, one has to visualize goals. It allegedly helps. So, one more time, with feeling, are my tennis goals for my USTA season:
1. To make it back to Princeton -- and to win maybe two matches this time.
2. To get moved up to the 4.0 level.
3. To win (the rest of) my matches and utterly dominate all my opponents.
I gotta admit, my last league loss is still staying with me -- but in a good way. It doesn't hurt as bad, but every time I find myself in a tight situation, I realize that it's more important to play my game than to win like a scaredy-cat. This has come in handy in the matches since my last team loss.
Quick recap:
Y-Not: Our next match was against the undefeated YMCA team. Again, I knew a lot of them from another weekday league. Basically, we needed this match. With two losses, we were down, but not out -- as long as we could get the rest of the field to come back to us a bit. So beating the Y was key. My captain made a key change to the regular lineup and moved me to line one doubles. I was relieved. In the winter, I'd been playing so much dubs, and I felt more comfortable there. I could tell you all about it, but I'm going to let my team captain, Lyn, do the honors:

"Bev and Nafari also won their first set pretty easily—6-3 and started their second set. Their opponents started playing much better and I moved away from their court when they were losing 4-1—this is way too painful for a Captain to sit and watch! I headed for the bathroom.
After three trips to the bathroom with diarrhea, Marla and Vicki were down 4-3 in their second set. Bev and Nafari were still losing 4-3. Wait . . . what is this???? Donna and Karol are shaking hands . . . . they won!!! 6-3! That means—we won too! We beat the Y!
One more trip to the bathroom and back to Bev’s and Nafari’s match.
I’m not sure how this happened but all of a sudden their score shows us winning 5-4! Is it possible we could beat the Y 4-1??? Yep, we could and soon Bev and Nafari were hugging on the court and jumping around."

Now, that was sweet. First, nice to get the monkey off the back and get a win. Second, nice to have someone on court with you to release some of that pressure. Third, I wasn't the reason our team sucked it anymore! That was also nice. And for the record, we went 5-0 in that win -- whitewashing an undefeated team AND saving our chances for playoffs.
Next up:
Mt. Lebo: Not one of the tough teams in our league, so the key here was not to drop any matches. I was back at first singles, and my opponent was one of my practice partners from back in the day. Here's how comfortable I was. I won the first set, 6-0, and the first game of the second set before my opponent decided she needed some more water. I accompanied her and before I knew it, we were shooting the breeze with everyone we ran into. We were gone for about 20 minutes. We resumed the match and I dropped three games on the way to another 5-0 win. So far, so good. Were we on a roll, or were we just lucky? Our next match would be a stern test.
The Hills are alive? The next team was usually right in the mix of our league division, but like us, they were struggling a bit this year. Still, our teams always had tough matches. Once again, I was back at first doubles, and as we walked to the court, my partner told me she had played our opponents a few days earlier and went three tough sets before they won. I decided to myself I wasn't going to go three sets with them. We didn't, and we won in two fairly easy sets. And for once, I was the first one to finish! Huge relief. Anyway, we dropped one match on the way to victory. Can't be sure, but it's almost a legitimate roll now. Meantime, looking at the league standings, we'd moved into third place, behind one last undefeated team and another with just one loss. We still needed some things to happen to break our way. It's certainly not ideal to not be in control of your own destiny, but if we did our part, anything could happen. Right? Ri-ight!
West Virginia! Road trip for my team, but I was taking the week off. Which actually is more nerve-wracking than playing when you, in theory, are still in the playoff hunt. I'm at Highland Park, playing with my homies, and wondering what happened. Why won't anyone e-mail me? Until I got a text from my teammate that said one thing: Johnstown lost! Let me help you -- Johnstown was the one-loss team we needed to catch. They lost! Which put us in a tie for second place, but our match wins gave us the edge in wins -- if we beat the West Virginia team, which we did. 5-0! Crazy! What's next?
Default: Anticlimatic, but our next team opponents defaulted the match, which gave us yet another 5-0 win. Aah, no one want to win with defaults. Do they?
So we want to play now. We've got one match left and it's coming up Sunday. Our last match won't be a pushover, but it's doable. The standings: We are in second place, solid. For now. The last undefeated team finally lost, but they're safe as long as they win. There are two slots for the division playoffs. We're in the driver's seat for one of them. All we have to do is win. It's been a crazy road, and it's not over yet, but isn't this why we're on the ride? For the journey? We hope it takes us to Princeton, or at least the division playoffs. But this is the fun part -- the suspense and the fact that it's in your hands. There are so many parts of life -- work, family, etc. -- when it's not in your hands. I guess that's what's great about sport -- the fact that it's all on you. If you fail, you have no one else to blame but yourself (which sucks). But if you succeed, man, is it sweet.
So. Back to those goals:
1. To make it back to Princeton -- and to win maybe two matches this time.
2. To get moved up to the 4.0 level.
3. To win (the rest of) my matches and utterly dominate all my opponents.
We shall see. We shall see.


yogahz said...

LOVE the League Watch.

Wow - I'm tense and nervous reading your write up. It sounds like you've turned a corner in believing that you're the winners when you walk out on the court.

I'll be pulling for you from Seattle on Sunday!

PS I broke my arm! Bicycling. Drafting. Not a skill I own.

PPS Did I tell you I grew up in State College? Are there any USTA teams from around there that you play?

Naf said...

Nooo! You can't break your arm in the summer!!! Can you play lefty (or righty, as it applies)? :)
You did mention the State College connection. I don't think they're in our division, but Erie is, which is about two and a half hours away from Pittsburgh. Who knows.
Anyway, thanks for your support! I'll keep you posted. And sorry about your team! Next year.

van said...

Naf! What's up? Glad to hear the team is winning, and by putting the stomps on people!

I hate that I'm gonna have "The Final Countdown" by Europe stuck in my head all day, though. : }