This is The Big One: Super Seniors Category II at the former Naples Bath & Tennis Club (now Sanchez Academy). With a total of 328 entries from all over the country (and beyond), it has depth in every age group from 55 to 90!
My first round singles match was against Paul Veltman, a regular tournament player from Grand Rapids MI. He is a big lefty with short efficient strokes and a two-handed backhand. Based on what I learned, my hope was to move him side to side, tire him, and take advantage of my better legs.
He decided early on that he did not want to play baseline tennis with me and in the middle of the first set, when he was down two service breaks, changed strategy and stood INSIDE the baseline and crowded the service line on return of serve. He ended up taking control of the points with his solid cross-court shots and got one break back.
But I was serving 5-4 for the first set and had four set points that I was unable to convert and was broken. I knew what was happening… and what I had to do: don’t give him anything midcourt, because he was attacking them effectively. I had to force myself to hit DEEP and pull him out of the middle. So, was able to break back and serve out the first set for a 7-5 “save.”
In the second set, he broke me at 2-2 and held; so I was serving at 2-4. Again, recognizing where he was and what had to be done to counter, I was able to hold, break, hold, and break to take the match 7-5, 6-4 (in two hours fifteen minutes).
Tomorrow’s match is against the fourth best 65 year old player in the country, David Nash. I have never played him; but understand he is about 6’ 4” and serves like Ivo Karlovich. So I will stand back and see if I can get the ball back in play.