Thursday, November 29, 2012

Machinations of War:

For three long years, I tirelessly worked with an apprentice when no one else would. Though he was a tad mentally and physically challenged, I dedicated my time and effort to mentor him. I was determined to whip him into shape and help fix his game. We practiced and played in many league matches with varying degrees of success.

I held out great hope that his game would improve, but it never approached the level needed to win consistently against good opponents. With his 50% ground stroke consistency and 10% first serve in percentage, we were doomed. No matter how many balls I poached at the net, we could not overcome his lack of consistency.

The final straw was losing to two bozos who played "old man tennis"... popping up the ball 40 feet high in the air with every stroke. My doubles partner countered with his own slow paced lobs. I barked: "Hit hard and low. Make their fat asses run!" My doubles partner, however, could not shift it into a higher gear. We inevitably lost in the third set, when we should have double bagled them 6-0,6-0. It was then that I decided our partnership was done. I had to dump him.

I called my apprentice and let him know that due to a USTA rating increase, I wanted to play with and against more advanced players. He was disappointed, but said he understood. I reassured him we were still be friends and can hit together before our matches.

A mutual acquaintance texted me upon hearing the news: "You should recognize that he's one of the few people who still consider you a friend just for the sake of being your friend. No strings attached. I've got to believe that's kind of rare."

It made me pause. Did I do the right thing? Was I being a dick? I dedicated THREE YEARS of my life to this individual. While I was putting in the hard work to improve my game, he was seemingly content with a subpar performance. It was not fair that he wasn't doing everything in his power to updgrade his game. It drove me up the wall!

Doubles Team Divorces are always a highly dramatic event that is part of the life of a tennis player. It's a sucky thing to go through, but a necessary component to continue to improve. What's done is done. Keep moving forward.

The machinations of war is upon us. I'm riding this nuke into battle. See you on the other side.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Road to Perdition:

"Don't write a check that your mouth can't cash". That's something we adults learn in everyday life and sports. If you going to talk the talk, then you had better walk the walk. I drove to Texas on a mission.

The Universe had already conspired against me. I had arrived beaten up and riddled with injuries from two back to back tennis tournaments and a fateful slip down stairs where both knees felt hyper-extended. The tennis elbow that plagued me during the New Orleans tournament had still not gone away. With every groundstroke, I felt a tinge of pain in my right arm.

Considering there were 44 participants in the singles division and 23 teams in doubles, I marked Saturday as the day my dead corpse would lay bloody and defeated in battle. With the competition fierce, the odds of winning it all were staggering.

Playing in my 5th tennis match in less than 24 hours, I was eliminated 6-3,6-4 in singles by a very athletic #4 seed. The windy conditions on the court distracted my mind and fatigue had set in to take away some fight. I was essentially playing like a brainless zombie. My loss was the perfect payback for taking him out earlier this year in Austin's tournament.

I had to somehow find a reservoir of strength and fight on. The trouble is that my doubles partner, Rod, and I both felt like carrion waiting for vultures to swoop down and consume us. We were soooo tired with our 6th and 7th matches looming. No problem. We put those teams (the #2 and #6 seeds) away in straight sets.

One more victory on Sunday (our 8th overall match) gave us the HouTex Doubles Championship: