Monday, March 7, 2011

Tennis tales I

I found out this morning that I’ve got seven weeks to vacate my flat. Where I’ll go, and with whom (if anybody) I really don’t know.

Yesterday I went to the French club in Browns Bay, which was convenient because I then had to play interclub tennis at Torbay, a prospect I wasn’t too thrilled about. Before I took to the court I couldn’t have cared less about winning or losing – I just wanted to get home. It was all doubles, partnering players who were at a decent level and clearly would have some emotional attachment to the final outcome. That wouldn’t make it any easier for me. It was very windy out there and at the start of the men’s match I could hardly get a ball in play. When we hung on to my serve in the fifth game to trail by just one, we could easily have been 5-0 down. But then I somehow, from somewhere, found my range and was helped by my very steady, skilful and experienced partner. We had two set points at 6-5, but a barrage of big serves got our opponents out of trouble. Tie-break. Spare me. At that stage I couldn’t have imagined we’d get the result we did – a 7-6 (7-1), 6-1 win.

The highlight – if you can call it that – of the mixed match came on my own serve, when we were leading 4-0 and 40-30. I served what I thought was an obvious double fault, my second ball landing a few inches wide. They didn’t call it, but sometimes opponents don’t call balls that are obviously out. I thought nothing of it, called “deuce”, and stepped up to serve the next point. My partner didn’t like this, saying I should have waited for them to call it, and taken the point and the game if they didn’t. I simply said, “I’m not a win-at-all-costs person,” which she clearly was. Anyway we were well on top and I felt we could win fair and square without needing points like that. We lost that game but wound up 6-1 6-3 winners. Looking back on the afternoon’s play, the conditions benefited me. I didn’t have the technical ability that others out there possessed but if I’m in the right frame of mind I can scrap and get balls back, keeping my unforced error rate down. When it’s blowing a gale most points will end on an error so if you can just keep the ball in play you’re half-way there.

I guess I should tell, briefly, my horror interclub story from a fortnight ago. I won just two games in just four sets, making it my worst overall result ever. Whether it was my worst performance I’m not so sure – there’s no shortage of contenders to choose from. My depression was a definite factor – that evening I didn’t want to be anywhere near a tennis court. Both games I won (both!) were in the singles, against someone I’d played once before in 2005, back when I enjoyed the game. That time I won in a tough three-setter. As for the doubles, the less said about that the better. The big positive was that the evening’s exercise (what little I got) seemed to give me the initial boost I needed to drag myself out of depressive hell.

Tonight I have to play again – I expect my love-hate relationship with the game will continue.

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