Well, this is the last day of competition; and three months of conditioning (+ rain-shortened matches) seems to have really helped; because I am not tired and nothing hurts. But it was raining again this morning; so we went inside to play abbreviated doubles matches against Newk’s team.
Tom and I teamed up at #2 again, against another very tough team: two huge servers, David Orton, from Los Angeles and Big Howard Dorman, all 6’ 6 1/2” of him from NY. We played an eight game pro set and lost on one service break; but our team was leading after the morning’s play by 5-2.
The sun came out, so we played a full slate of singles in the afternoon, needing just a split to win the day and get into the sudden death playoff later. At #3 singles, I drew my good friend Willy Hoffmann (to the groans of everyone who heard it). Willy played exceptional well; so when Emmo came by my court to see I was losing, I told him my game plan was simple: Just hit 15 consecutive good shots to set up a short ball; and then hit an outright winner! Well, Willy got back “16 shots everytime” and beat me in straight sets.
We all stayed around to watch my doubles partner play his nearly three hour singles match, in which he lost the first set in a tie breaker; was down 2-5 in the second set (and I confess that I packed up my tennis bag ready to walk back); but came back to win the set in a tie breaker; and then lost the 10 pointer for the match.
But our losses were minimal and we won the day 13 matches to 6 against Newk’s team. Davo’s Musclemen (who beat us yesterday in our rain-created doubles-only match) beat Fred Stolle’s Dunnies. So they were going to draw three doubles teams #s from my Wankers and the Musclemen out of a hat to each play one ten-point tiebreaker: the team needing to win two out of those to win the championship.
In all honesty, I was hoping they would NOT pick our team: their team had beaten Tom and me TWICE yesterday + Tom just completed his marathon comeback match. But as I walked down to the main courts, I heard them yell, “George, you and Tom are on court #1!” Yikes.
They had randomly picked the #2, 4 (with Lenny Saltzman) and 5 (with Rich Tarantino) teams. With the all the campers and Legends watching, Tom dragged himself back on the court for our Champions Tie breaker against 41-year-old rookie Charlie (who was later named Rookie of the Year at the awards dinner) and David, the Brazilian pro.
Long story short (yes, strange for me!), we were down 3-6 and both played great to come back to win 10-8 and to clinch the title for the Wankers (ended up that we swept all three tie breakers)!
This is the first time in my seven years of coming to camp that our Wankers won.
After that, I still had some energy left (!); so I spent about an hour with Emmo and a few others learning how to REALLY hit forehand and backhand vollies (I will try to remember; so I can practice + share with anyone who is interested).
A good story: At last night’s after-dinner Legend panel, some one asked Davo a question about coaching and he replied with an anecdote from this week’s camp, “Without bragging, I will tell you that I have been playing high level doubles fairly successfully for 50 years, having teamed with the likes of Billie Jean King to win all four major mixed doubles titles. And I did this basically standing in the same spot at the net, when my partner was serving. But today, I played my fantasy match with Mr. Willy Hoffmann as my partner; and I am standing at the net — where I always stand – and I hear this voice from behind me saying, ‘Davo, move to your right!’ So if the tennis world is looking for a new coach or commissioner, it should be Mr. Hoffmann!” (Willy loved it).
Tennis Tip of the Day: At lunch with Emmo, we were talking about my doubles match from the morning and what you can do when you hit a weak return of serve and your partner is going to eat the ball at the net. Emmo says the “target” (man getting ready to get the ball hit at him) should stand with his racquet to take the ball right at him or on his alley side and to volley right back at the opponents. It is the returner’s job to watch for the ball down the middle (and then to try to lob volley over the opposing net man’s head).
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, “This will be the longest awards presentation you will ever see!” 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, Rookie of the Year, MVP, including Rich Tarantino winning the Wanker’s Charlie Hustle Award, 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, we will have two hours of morning drills; and then we jet back to Pelican Bay (and doubles on Saturday morning).