In the month of May, after most of the Snow Birds have left town, the city of Naples holds its tennis tournament. Since I will be here for the month and healthy this year, I have entered three categories: age 65+ singles, 65+ doubles with January tournament partner Dick Valentine, and (no age) 4.5 doubles with my young friend, Marc Vandam.
In the 65 singles, I went down to Cambier Park for my first match and was pleasantly surprised to see a draw of eight players, with a red â€œ1 seedâ€ next to my name!
Waiting on the top deck for my opponent, I see a paunchy older guy walking up and, sure enough, he is my opponent. Message: donâ€™t judge a tennis book by its cover. During warm up, I could see he had nice strokes, with a chop forehand and slice backhand. But I figured he couldnâ€™t run all that well.
My mantra was: keep the ball in play, deep, and to the corners. When I did that, the third time he had to chase down a cross-court shot usually drew the error or no reply.
Another message I kept repeating to myself: donâ€™t feel sorry for him; beat him and buy him a beer.
With solid focus and very few unforced errors, I was able to stay solid the whole match and beat him 6-0, 7-0. Not a typo. He started serving the match and when we ended the first set at 6-0, he stayed and served one game. At the change over, I said â€œone â€“ love,â€ meaning one game to love; but he got it fixed in his head I said/meant one set to love.
So after I served and won the next game to go up two â€“ love, he started changing over, insisting it was only the first game of the second set. No matter how I tried to explain to him that he started serving for the match, and would therefore being serving when the score was even, he would have no part of it. So after 10 minutes of arguing, I just gave in and worked to maintain my concentration. He came close to winning the next game; but we got back in the same pattern and it stayed an extended bagel.