Wednesday, December 03, 2014

On-court antics: How I learned to stop worrying and love 8.0 playoffs

The 8.0 mixed doubles season out here has been ... interesting. There has been a lack of urgency because all eight teams make the playoffs. At the same time, it's also a good idea to jockey for position in some way -- because if you can grab home court advantage, well, that's ideal.
That's what my team had in mind for the last regular season match. Win, and you move into the second slot and have at least two playoff matches at your house. (The final is at a neutral location.) Lose, and you drop to fourth, and what would be a very tough first-round match against a team we barely beat during the regular season.
In situations like this, then, you hate to have to play an important match with someone you've never played with before. UNLESS you ended up with my partner. I had the talk with him, you know, about me. And the net. And our complicated relationship. I ask him: "So, how do you feel at the net? If I start with the serve, you're probably better off up there than I am."
He says: "I feel OK up there. You can serve."
I often wonder if people have different meanings for words than I do. Because when someone says, "I feel OK," I think, "So not great." But this guy was not OK at the net. He was pretty great up there. For a big guy, he moved quickly at the net and intercepted stuff I figured I'd have to get for him. I actually had time to learn a lot about volley preparation back there.
So, besides for a temporary hiccup I had in the second set, during which time I had a bout with nerves that I had to literally curse myself out to shake, we won in straight sets.
That made the whole match score 1-1, with our team down a set and a break by the time we were done. We held on, though, and our team won the match, 7-5 in the third.
So yay! We secured one home-court slot on the last night of the regular season! (My husband's team had the other. I know what you're going to say. It's what everyone says. "Why aren't you playing on the same team as your husband?" If you're very good, one day I will explain it. But we have to focus.) Time to plan for being in the driver's seat during the playoffs! Right? Right! Wait, what? Not right??
Everything was awesome until around 9 a.m. the next morning, a Sunday, when our league coordinator dropped something of a bomb: A proposal to extend the season by three matches, so that we could play more and give captains an opportunity to qualify more players for sectionals, should they advance. He put it to a vote by the team captains that would be tallied in five days.
Now naturally, this would be a vote that would run something like 6-2, then, with the 'no' votes belonging to my husband and my team captain. Well, who else wouldn't jump at the chance to improve their playoff position, right? Heck, if this was proposed before the season started, or maybe two matches in, I might have supported it. But the fact that it surfaced the morning after the season had officially ended (according to our apparently archaic online schedule set back in September), smelled like shenanigans. And in league tennis in these parts, when you smell shenanigans, there's this one team captain who is usually cooking it.
He shall remain nameless here, but through some sleuthing, it was discovered that this guy had told another team captain he intended to ask the league coordinator to help him out by changing match dates so he could get his best lineups out there. Many of his players also play for the 9.0 team, and he needed some accommodations so he could send beefed-up lines to both places.
Well, once this was discovered and made known to the other captains, it got real "Dynasty" up in here. While emailed accusations of just about anything tennis-related you could think of were being hurled about, there was one person who was mysteriously absent -- the league coordinator. Finally, on Monday night, he materialized to tell us that the plan was off the table.
So, for now, until the next insane proposal, my team will play at home this weekend, as will my husband's. What's the lesson here? Twofold: 1. Look, you don't mess with USTA people and their league tennis. You just don't. 2. If you are hired to do a job, do the job. Don't put stupid ideas up for a vote. Squash them, because that is your job.
That said, here's to an all-TWA face-off for sectionals!

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