In thinking (too much) about this match against a guy who plays head games, I resolved “to make it about tennis and not about line calls.” My brother’s advice was to look at his potential antics as “entertainment” and not get upset by them.
Well, Reinaldo (“Oscar” in NJ) Valor and I played our quarterfinal singles match this morning with the starting temp at 45 degrees! Besides being someone who can play head games, Reinaldo is also a very good player, who was seeded #2 (behind Joe Bachmann). He grew up playing on South American red clay and has the slides, soft hands, and great drop shots that come with that upbringing.
In the first set, the first seven games stayed on serve, with well played points and good games; but he broke me at 3-4 and served out the set.
The second set started with him breaking my serve; but then I broke right back (in a love game). And then took a 40-love lead in my next service game (seven consecutive points). But he brought it back to the first of SEVEN deuces in that game.
That game turned out to be the game of the set. He eventually won it (on a drop shot); and although we had more good points and games, he won 6-3, 6-2.
Bad Line calls? There were none. In fact, during the critical third game of the second set, he called a baseline shot out … I challenged… he looked at the mark… and gave me the point!
Looking back, I can think of several reasons:
1) He didn’t NEED to.
2) My friend Kenny was watching the whole time and letting me know what he saw
3) He wants to sell me some Volkl racquets
4) He knew I was friends with Dave Seide who “is his good friend from NJ”
We ended up having a very friendly and cleanly played match, with compliments on both sides. Go figure.