Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Tournament and Follow-up
This year, I started playing early. I was hitting against the wall in February and played with my dad some then. I continued hitting against the wall and started playing other people around April. By the time June came around, I was actively playing several people a week and consistently getting better. I played in a tournament at the end of August and made it to the finals. This Fall I've been playing in a USTA Flex league. And over the weekend, I entered another tournament.
The Flex league has been fun. I've been playing at a 3.0 level, though I feel like I should probably start looking at 3.5. I'm beating most of the 3.0 players pretty handily. But it's fun and I met a pretty decent player that I get along with. We've gotten together and played since and play to play more in the future... so the Flex league was worth it (since I met at least one person I want to keep playing with).
On Friday night I had a Flex league match. And I played really well. The guy admitted before we started that he's rated at 2.5 and was worried he wouldn't be much competition. Well... it turned out to be justified. I took it pretty easy on the guy, hitting it right to him and giving him chances to win points, but he didn't win all that many. And, I was playing great. I didn't make any mistakes and couldn't do anything wrong. My serves were all going in (I had only one double fault in the match), but I *was* serving pretty easy to him. The match took about 30 minutes and I walked away 6-0, 6-0. I was feeling pretty good.
On Saturday morning, I played my first round tournament match. I was pretty confident and thought I was playing in a 3.0 rated tournament. Turns out, I mis-read the listing and it was a 30 years old and older tournament. The guy I played was a 4.0 player. And, I'm not quite sure what happened, but I was off. I couldn't do anything right. The stuff that was working the night before just wasn't working for me on Saturday. I was trying to serve harder, but even when that wasn't working, I went back to how I served the night before (what was working so well) and even that wasn't working. I went from double faulting once in a match to doing it about twice per game. I won the first game, but didn't win another.
I felt pretty bad about the whole thing and was kind of embarrassed at my showing. I had a couple of glimpses of "greatness", but that only accounted for a point or two in the match. I started to doubt my skill and was considering emailing the tournament organizer to ask how a 4.0 player (and the 5.0 player that beat him) were in my 3.0 tournament bracket. But, then I noticed the lack of decimal in the "M30s" description (Men's 30 Singles), vs. the "NM3.0s" description. And I realized that I wasn't playing 3.0 players, but I was playing people over 30. So, I felt a little better.
On Tuesday, I played the guy I mentioned above whom I met through the Flex league. He's gotten a lot better since I played him in our league match. And when we started our match, I felt like I did on Saturday: I couldn't do anything right. My serves were going in, but everything else wasn't. He was playing very well, though, and I was concerned that I wouldn't win a game. It was my turn to serve and I was down 0-3. I tried to relax and find my game. And I won that one. I ended up winning six in a row to win the set. But it was a terrible feeling to be back to where I was on Saturday. And, when I started serving in the second set, the same thing happened. Nothing was working (except my serve) again. And I lost that game. I worried about the set, but halfway through the second game, I picked it up again and won out.
I'm having a lot of fun playing this year. I see where my maturity as a 39 year old helps me overcome some of the frustrations I had that would get me when I was a teenager. I'm more fit than I've ever been in my life and feel like I can count on my body to be there for me when playing. I just signed up for another tournament in December. This will be a 3.5 (yes, I checked) tournament for me. I hope I do well!