Sunday, July 27, 2008

Tennis Results This Weekend.

I played in the men’s 5.0 bracket this year. There were only 8 players in the bracket, so the first match happened to be the quarterfinal match. My results:

Quarters: played a guy from Houston that outsmarted me. He had a consistent but returnable serve which I got back about 90% of the time. He came in after just about every stroke (serve, return), etc. In the first set we played it pretty straight and I won with one break, mainly because I had more firepower than my opponent.

In the second set, my opponent realized that his strategy wasn’t working too well so he slowed down the game on me. He took most of the pace off the ball and focused on hitting deeper but slower, and occasionally throwing in some moonballs. That was taking me deeper into the court, and since he’s approach the net after aforementioned balls, I had fewer angles to pass him and he had more time to see what I was doing with the ball because I was so far back. I certainly had my chances in the second set, though, and let myself get down instead of executing passing shots. I can’t even tell you how many bad lobs I hit in the second set, but it was at least ten. We went to a tiebreak (they were ordering Komen tiebreakers in lieu of third sets since it was over 100 degrees outside) and I played horrendously there, and that was it.

Consolation Semis: played another guy from Houston. Friends of mine that play League ball in Houston had been looking forward to this match (although they thought it would be in the main draw). The guy had solid strokes but simply didn’t execute anything. He hit a handful of winners but many unforced errors. I spent most of the match hanging out while he self-destructed (just being honest). In the second set I was up 5-1 and he decided to rattle off a bunch of winners (like I said, he was playing sporadic tennis). He even went up 30-0 on his serve before throwing in a couple more unforced errors, and I put away a couple solid shots.

Consolation Finals: I looked forward to this match because I was to play a league teammate who has rotated with me in the #1 singles spot on our team now and then. I knew that he is a serve-and-volleyer and he knew that I’m a baseliner, so it was to be an intriguing matchup, right?

Apparently when a serve-and-volleyer is red-hot it trumps the baseliner. I lost 6-2, 6-2. A friend said “when you told me that score I figured you either bombed or were dominated,” and it was the latter. Now, there were a handful of things that I could have done better (executing lobs, executing passing shots where I actually had a chance to get a piece of the bal), but my teammate was just so solid from the net that he took away a lot of angles that I normally have on a guy. He took away rallies, period. There were perhaps 4 points where I forced him to stay back with deep serves and deep groundstrokes, and I won all of those. He knew that he’d be clobbered in a baseline fight, so he simply removed that possibility, and he did so skillfully and smartly. Kudos to him for that.

Two major points to take from this match:

-I need to create a serve/volley threat; that doesn’t mean I need to serve and volley, but I at least need to do it on occasion to create an environment where the returner has to at least think a little about what he has to do to keep the ball away from me, which creates errors.

-I need to hit my second serve harder; this is more of a systemic problem that affects all my matches.

All things considered, I’m sore and didn’t have a good record this weekend, but somehow I still feel pretty good about the tournament overall. I feel like I got some good match experience that taught me some things I need to look out for in the future.