The Ft. Myers doubles semi finals matched Dick and me against the #3 seeds, Ed Harrar and Barry Shollenberger, from outside of Tampa. During warm-up, it appeared Ed was the bigger and harder hitter, playing the deuce court and Barry was the steady, no-miss guy in the ad court.
We won the toss and again elected to receive; and Big Ed started serving for them from the shady side. Our strategy worked, because we broke them right off; but when we served (having Dick start, because I would then take the serve into the sun), they broke right back.
We then each held serve and we were able to again break their â€˜first serverâ€™; but again, gave the break right back to go to 3-3. Dick was a little exasperated and unhappy he was missing too many shots. Our opponents, being a smart doubles team, then played the majority of balls to (or over) him; and I confess to then trying to over compensate and missing some myself.
All that and the fact that they got a LOT of balls back, led them to a run of 8 Â¾ games. They ran the four games in the first set to win 6-3; and take a 0-4, break point lead on Dickâ€™s fourth service game.
We somehow came back to hold that game; broke them (Big Ed again); and I held to gain the momentum and get back in it, down one break.
But the momentum swung back and they won the second set and the match 6-3.
Why did we lose? Because we couldnâ€™t hold serve. While we broke Big Ed twice in the first set and once in the second, we only held my serve two of four times, and Dickâ€™s serve only one in five times. We needed to get more first serves in play and do something to break up their return game.
What else did I learn? One is that I do not play as well when I am worrying about what my partner is or is not doing. And the other thing is that partners need to communicate more DURING the match about what strategy they are or should be using.
For example, early in the first set, I had Dick and me both stand back on the baseline as we were returning Barryâ€™s serve; because Big Ed was controlling the net. But toward the end of the second set, Dick finally said to me, â€œI donâ€™t like playing back on the baseline.â€ And I realize now, that he is a much better reflex volleyer than baseliner (not playing any singles); so I put him in a situation of his most discomfort.
Communicate, communicate, communicate.
And the Good News? I can relax tomorrow and watch football. And fly to CT on business on Monday; come back and play in Naples on the 21st.