In the second singles match of this tournament, my opponent was Donald Long, #3 seed from NY. Never having played him, I asked around and could just learn that he is â€œa very solid player,â€ who plays a lot of squash, and therefore is wristy with a wicked slice.
I didnâ€™t play too well in the first set and he won 6-2; but at the end of the set I saw that he ran around his forehand to hit his backhand. His backhand was excellent: crosscourt, down the line, short, long, vollies, etc. So in the second set, I played more to his forehand, which was not as strong and tried to run him a little more.
My best chance against these â€œnorthernersâ€ who just come down for the January tournaments is to get them early in the month, before they really get in shape and used to the Florida heat (it was again in the low 80â€™s today).
We played on serve and about even for the first five games; and I got a quick sense that he may have been tiring after about an hour in the sun. But he was able to pull himself and his game together to win the second set. Although the score was the same, the points and games were a lot closer. He was better and he won.
Afterwards, one of the top seeds advised me: next time, stay away from his backhand, and hit more looping shots, which he would have more trouble with due to his continental grip.
To put the loss in perspective, I reminded myself that on the way up to the tournament today, I spotted a billboard just before the exit with the smiling face of my prostate surgeon.
Next up: doubles, Thursday afternoon against the #3 seeds, San Diegoâ€™s Bob Royden (who Tom and I both have a singles history with) and his partner Dave Webber from NE).