Well, this is the last day of competition; and seven months of post-op conditioning seems to have really helped. While I have not won all my matches, fatigue is NOT a factor this year. The nice, mild weather has helped; and is the same as we moved into play.
The morningâ€™s clinic was Fred Stolle on the serve:
- Bounce the ball 18 inches in front of the baseline as you are preparing to serve; that way you will more likely toss it the same distance in front of you as you serve.
- (This tip was right on target for me; because I realized I have been tossing it too much over my head and not getting enough power.)
- Start with your feet parallel to the side lines, which will force your upper body to be in the correct position. John McEnroe had taken that philosophy one step further and actually serves with his back to the court.
- When you are in your service motion, rock back onto your rear leg; because according to Stolle, the majority of your power will come from the weight transfer (not the snap of the wrist).
- And as you are completing your motion think of your rear shoulder coming over your front â€“ it wonâ€™t happen; but that is the image you want.
- At our level, you should not try to have â€˜two first servesâ€™; but rather have a safe and reliable second serve with more spin.
Our competition today was against Stolleâ€™s team (playing for last place); and I was again at #4 singles and matched up against another younger player: Scott Miller, a 48-year-old from Columbus, OH. Scott has real good strokes on both sides, a good serve, and a good volley. My plan was to keep the ball deep and in play, to make him hit one more shot than he wanted to.
The first set was close, with Scott winning 6-4. In the second set, he got more comfortable and more confident, hitting excellent topspin forehands to both corners; and took a commanding 4-0 lead.
I served a real long game, with several break points against me; and was able to gut it out to win the game. Fred Stolle came by just then and I told him, â€œI may be losing, but your toss-out-in-front tip really helped my serve!â€
Giving it all I had left (telling myself this was going to be my last singles match here), I was able to eek out one more game and lost 6-2.
Our Wankers team overall lost so many matches in the morning, we were almost â€˜guaranteedâ€™ fourth place for the week.
After lunch, there was an exhibition match between two kids from the John Newcombe Tennis Academy: Garrett ____, a 15-year-old and Christian Harrison, a 13-year-old, both from Louisiana. Christian holds the WORLD #1 in 12 and under and just got to the quarter finals of an ITF tournament â€“ the first time that has ever happened. The kids were just awesome.
Even though last-day injuries changed the doubles line ups in several places, Emmo kept Jimmy Miller as my partner at #2. We played against Scott Miller, who beat me in singles in the morning, and their #3 singles player, who beat our Mike Rennels in a Champions tie break.
This time I must have had a REALLY BIG target on my chest; because they hit at me and at me. During one point, they drove five consecutive shots at me at the net (the last three from point blank range), until I volleyed away a winner.
With them essentially over-playing to me (and my holding my own), we cruised to an easy 6-1 first set. At the start of the second set, we had to choose who served first for us; and due to the sun, we started with me; and I was broken.
We were able to break back in the fourth game; and with them serving 2-3, 30-30, I turned to Jimmy and said â€œthis is going to be â€˜match pointâ€™ â€“ we win it, you win yours, we hold serve and win.â€
It almost proved to be right: I did hit a good return to win my point and Jimmy won the add point for a 4-2. But he noticed that my racquet was cracked (he runs a California tennis shop); so I switched racquets to one with slightly looser strings. For that reason (or because I choked) I missed two sitters at the net to lose his service game; and put the set back on serve.
They held serve to force me to serve a pressure game at 4-4. With Emmo and Fred Stolle watching his team, I was able to get in all first serves to win the game; and thank Fred again for this morningâ€™s instruction! We then went on to break easily and win the match â€“ and have Jimmy and I qualify for the Undefeated in Doubles trophy.
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€ They announced the three-peat winning team of the Musclemen (Owen Davidson, Ross Case, Rick Leach) beating Newkâ€™s Kangaroos (who havenâ€™t won in 16 years).
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, four of us have arranged a doubles match and then they will have some early morning clinics; and then back to Pelican Bay (and doubles on Saturday morning).