Fantasy Tennis – Thursday, Day 5
Talk about a change in the weather! Last night, a front came through with heavy rains; and this morning it is overcast, windy, and COLD! Everyone is dressed in sweatshirts and jumping around to stay warm.
I woke up this final morning of competition feeling better; while my resting pulse is about 25% higher than I would expect, I am not sore and have NO cramping problems. Our team was playing the other team that has been eliminated; so play was just for the fun/pride of it.
All told there are 14 campers who are NOT playing today, due to a variety of injuries and plain old fatigue. So this morningâ€™s doubles match, I was teamed again with Terry against a good camper and one of the ranch pros. The camper was Jeff Sands, a 40-year old, 6 ft 3 inch, 250 pounder who likes to hit the ball hard (as you might expect) and the ranch pro was Chris, a nice 20-something from Brisbane, Australia.
We were obviously over matched; and although the games were close found ourselves down 6-0, 3-1. We managed to break their serve and break their momentum to bring the second set to a tie breaker (in fact we broke twice and had a chance to close it out serving at 5-4). But we lost the tiebreaker.
One thing that struck me as very positive: I hit a double fault into the netâ€¦ but I think that was maybe only the second or third one all week! My new mantra on serving is: never miss the serve into the net; if you are going to miss, miss it long (thanks to a Tennis Magazine tip from hard serving Dutchman, Richard Krychek).
The afternoon doubles was again against big Jeff and a camper, Bill Coughlin. Terry and I won a close first set at 7-5. In the second, they were serving for the set at 5-3; and we broke and held, to bring it to 5-5. But they were able to hold and break back for their own 7-5 set. We then went to the third set ten point tiebreak with about 20 guys watchingâ€¦ very close: 10-8 â€¦ but to them.
Afterwards, Emmo said we should have done more to break up their return of serve rhythm (cross, fake, or play tandem); and Brian Gottfried said we went to lob volley too often â€“ and rather should have driven the volley through them.
And for my third match of the dayâ€¦! This last day, I had my fantasy doubles match with Brian Gottfried as my partner and Bill C from our afternoon doubles match teamed with Dick Stockton. Some really high quality tennisâ€¦ what Dick Stockton lacking in mobility, he sure makes up for the ability to make some incredible soft, angled shots â€“ even using a head fake on me one time, making it look like he was going to volley down the middle and going wide instead. Brian played solidly â€“ as did I and the other camper; so the match was even at 6-6. We played a tie breaker, which they won.
So on my final day of camp, I ended up playing five sets of tennis + an 18 point tiebreaker, with four of the five sets going to 7-5 or 7-6. Enough tennis even for me? Yes.
A sign of recovery: after all that play, my heartbeat was a relatively high 76 â€“ but lower than the nearly 90 for the two days before.
After Happy Hour that included fresh shrimp from the Gulf and dinner of fish and lamp chops (yes, we did eat very well all week long), there was the Awards Ceremonies. As Steve Contardi said, â€œThis will be the longest awards presentation you will ever see!â€ There were thanks all around to the Legends who made our week wonderful, the great ranch staff of young pros and in the kitchen, and to Steve Contardi and his whole family who arranged it all. Then there were plaques and pictures for people who won all their singles, all their doubles, singles and doubles, Rookie of the Year, MVP, and several special awards including inductees into the Fantasy Camp Hall of Fame.
It was a great official ending to a truly Fantasy Week of tennis with the Legends. Friday morning they will have some early morning clinics; but I am departing mid morning — and it is smarter not to push it too hard today (since there is a doubles match waiting for me back in Pelican Bay on Saturday morning).