Tennis Fantasy – Wednesday, Day 4

The weather is now perfect and the morning clinic was presented by American doubles specialist Rick Leach, with a very interesting concept on how to know where to move on the doubles court.

His idea is this: when you are the net man and your partner is back (either serving or returning), visualize the square of the service box you are standing in as a microcosm of the opposite side of the court – and you should move in that box wherever the ball is on the other side of the net. In other words, you are standing on the add court service line as your partner is returning serve; and he hits one deep to the opposite corner, while the server does not come in. So, you move to the front left of the service box (just as the ball is in the back left of the court on the other side). It may be difficult to visualize; but it is a very solid concept.

He also commented that the net man, when his partner is returning serve, should stand on his service line; and then key on watching the opposing net man as his partner returns the ball. If the net man is poaching, be ready to hit a reflex volley. But if the ball gets passed the net man, then you can move into the box – and position yourself as he described earlier.

In the morning singles matches against Newk’s team, I was again slotted at #4; and this time played lefty California tennis writer Joel Drucker, who has a very good lefty slice serve and likes to come to the net. My plan was to cut the spin serve off, before it could drag me wide in the add court and hit deep topspin forehands to his backhand and take the net before he could.

Sounded good on paper; but in execution it didn’t work. He played very well, hitting many driving backhands cross court and coming in behind them; and won the first set easily at 6-1.

Brian Gottfried was on the court coaching me and suggested I move more into the alley in the add court when he was serving to take away most of his spin effectiveness. It worked to some degree; but then Emmo came over later and said, “Hit to his forehand, not his backhand: his backhand is much stronger and he likes to come in behind it. He doesn’t have the same offense on the forehand side.”

After the match, Emmo shared a comparison; saying when he used to play lefty Tony Roche, it was the same situation. “Rochie” would love to drive the backhand at you as you came to the net and Emmo was always taking the ball off his shoe tops. But when he served to Rochie’s forehand, he got a much more hittable shot.

The advice was good, but Joel was even better. He played what he said was one of his best matches ever at John Newcombe’s tennis camp and won the second set and the match.

My motto: You can’t always control how well your opponent plays; you can’t even always control how well you play; but one thing you CAN always control is how hard you try.

Tip of the Day (from Brian Gottfried): when you are playing a net rusher who likes to crowd the net, drive one at him; but then use the same stroke to hit a high, looping forehand over his head. Brian is saying don’t think of it as a topspin lob, as much as it is the same forehand stroke (which will also give you disguise) and just lift the ball over his head.

There were many good matches at all levels; but our Wankers ended the morning with a slim lead of 10-9. In the afternoon doubles, we needed six out of ten matches to stay in the running for the championship.

Since our lineup had done so well yesterday in a losing cause, Emmo kept me and Jimmy Miller at #2. We played two very hard hitting California hardcourters (who play with Jimmy every Tuesday night).

After the first three games of seeing their pounding serves, we were on serve with me serving and the score 1-2. Because of the sun location, I had to serve into a 20 mile an hour wind; and I said to Jimmy, the key to this match will be our ability to hold my serve.

We couldn’t; and we were steamrolled in the first set 6-2.

Marty Reissen came over on the set changeover and told us to slow down the pace of the match. They were hot and we needed to claw our way slowly back into it. I added to Jimmy: and, I have to get a high percentage of first serves in; so we can have a chance to hold my serve.

We talked more between points both to communicate and slow the pace; and I was able to put my first serves in, in good locations. We held my serve both times and were able to squeeze out a break to win the second set 6-4.

On the next court, our team playing #1 had won the first set, lost the second and were in a first to ten Championship tiebreaker. With about 20 guys watching, including Marty and Newk, our guys lost; so everyone turned their attention to our match, which was now in our own Champions Tiebreaker.

We were able to take an early lead at 8-3; but they won two to make it 8-5, with me serving. If they were to win both of my points, we would be back on serve.  But I got a first serve in, with no return; and then another first serve and Jimmy hit a beautiful drop volley for the match point winner.

A very satisfying victory, but short-lived. The crowd then moved down a couple of courts to watch the Wankers’ Rich Tarantino (of Connecticut/Naples) and a tall Brazilian named Alfredo Landsberger play their Champions Tiebreak against Willy Hoffmann (soon to be Naples) and Tom Sansonetti of Wyoming.

Willy had outlasted Rich in the morning singles match and did the same in doubles, with Newk’s team going 2-0 for the first two days, as our team lost seven out of the ten doubles matches.

As I write this, I am drinking a beer and looking out the slider door to the court just twenty feet away where John Newcombe and Owen Davidson are playing a Fantasy match with two campers. And I feel very, very strong (for this far into the week). Life is good.

Peckerhead update: my talk last night seemed to have hit home with a number of guys, who have said they are going to have their PSA checked when they get home. My feeling is, if I can save “just one life”, my preaching is worth it.

After a Mexican night dinner, we had some great dinner table conversation with a few of us campers listening to Marty Reissen and Emmo telling us about the early days on the Lamar Hunt pro tennis tour. After dinner, “High Commissioner” Al Egan led the four drinking teams to the bar for the annual Australian Boat Races… a team beer chugging competition, which is usually won by Newk’s ‘very experienced’ team. (I went to my room to watch the Sox and then to bed).

2 thoughts on “Tennis Fantasy – Wednesday, Day 4

  1. WANKERS it time to “show more interest”! This is tough to site here and see “my Wankers” to go down every day. Maybe next year I am up to play again and win a few points? George thank for putting the daily news on your site, I really enjoy reading it and can “see” how Joel kicked your bud. Joel has always been a major force on his team, so don’t feel bad about it! Good luck or better luck tomorrow! Rolf

  2. Enjoying your blogs and taking in all the tips! I believe Joel Drucker is the writer who played (and lost to) the No. 1 US wheelchair tennis player — ask him about it!

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