Thursday, December 18, 2014

On-court antics: Season on the brink

Sometimes, you can spend weeks, or even months, talking about something -- something that might or might not happen. But then it happens. And you are so tired of talking about it that now, you're just over it.
That's what our playoffs were like for 8.0 mixed. Once our league coordinator decided it wasn't a good idea to restart the season the day after the regular season ended, it was time to get the wheels of inevitability going. Our team made it through the first round last weekend with nary a bump, except that everyone on our court had some form of Ebola swine flu. It wasn't so bad, except the constant pressure on my chest and feeling like I couldn't breathe after some points. But we're all OK now. 
Our next opponent: Team Shenanigans. You know how some people are competitive at tennis while still recognizing that this is still really recreational, while others give people free club membership for their facility to lure them off of another team? Yeah. Team Shenanigans. So for the last two weeks, knowing that the members of this team were also largely on the 9.0 mixed team and that both of those teams were scheduled to play at the same time, we speculated about who would show up where and if that could help us. Especially because we're talking about some very dominant male players here. One of them is a former D-1 all-star and HE IS RATED A 4.0. I am rated a 4.0 and I just started playing tennis about a decade ago. About three days before the match, I checked out. I couldn't talk about it anymore. I just wanted to play. 
I'm not gonna lie -- I felt great during warm-ups. My whole team looked great. Even as one of their biggest dogs walked into our building, I thought: "Whichever one of us gets him, we can swing it. I mean, look at us!"
And then, during the match, I looked at them. By the time my court had finished warmups, that 4.0 college guy? He was up 5-0 on our teammates on line three. On line two, where the best teams from each side met, they were locked in a tight first set, but it looked like Team Shenanigan's big dog was starting to find his game. And on my court? We were down 5-1 in about four and a half minutes. And we drew the easiest team, which was still pretty effing tough. I'd played them both before and had a good record against the guy and not so good against the woman, although the one time I had beaten her was in mixed dubs. So I felt OK about our chances, even though we were down. We made a couple of adjustments, including pulling me off the net, and we got it back to 5-4. So I'm standing at the service line and I thought: "OK. All I have to do is hold serve here and we've got ourselves a set here."
Can I give you some advice? NEVER THINK THAT THOUGHT. NEVER DO IT!!!! I double-faulted three straight times. Three!!! I don't even remember being nervous. But I don't know what I was thinking, either. 
In an effort to avoid my own body after it malfunctioned on me, I looked around again, hoping for a sign. And I got one. The third line was already playing a fun set. In the next court over, Big Dog and his "3.5" partner were cruising. In fact, within minutes, our team was down 5-0 on both courts within minutes. I stood at the line again, this time, just hoping to avoid a bagel. I told my partner, "Four aces right here, and then let's get into it." He was like, "OK." He probably thought I was drinking cold medicine straight again.
It wasn't four aces, but we did get that game, but it was all over very soon after that. What a bummer. The worse part about the matches where there's a chance to win is going over all the stuff you did wrong as you're trying to fall asleep that night. 
Who double faults three times in a game, you stupid idiot? This isn't singles -- keep the ball low! Slicing? Are you nuts? You have to learn to volley. Why's my partner in no-man's land, and why am I letting him live there? This skirt is old and needs to go in the trash. 
So, it's over until next fall. There's a chance I can play another 9.0 match, and 7.0 still rages on for a few more weeks. It'll be that and a ton of net practice between now and the spring. 
So what's the takeaway here? Welp, no sectionals for us. My husband's team lost in a heartbreaker the next day, and unfortunately, it looks like all roads go through Team Shenanigans, which goes to show you that all you have to do is buy some club memberships for college players, and you can run rec tennis in your region. I have some talent I'm lining up, and I feel like the offer for the public courts and the port-o-potty next to it (free of charge and no wait for the potty) is going to draw the guys in like, well, like stink bugs to a port-o-potty in the summer.

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