A thankfully cloudy morning in Texas – and I feel good! Before the morning matches, American doubles specialist Rick Leach talked about some key pointers to focus on hitting the volley:
• Use the continental or backhand grip
• Always split step when your opponents are hitting the ball
• Step forward as you hit both the forehand and backhand volleys
• Watch the ball!
Our team played against the Owen Davidson/Ross Case/Rick Leach Muscleman; and I played #4 singles against a 50-year-old Aden Levine from northern California (giving away “just” 17 years to my opponent). My scouting report and warm-up watching said, “keep it away from his forehand; and his backhand will eventually break down.”
Well, he ran around his backhand very well and it was difficult to “find it” to hit to it! I found myself with him serving and me down TWO breaks at 4-0 in the first set.
But I “hung around” and did find his backhand to bring it to a first set tiebreaker. I kept being aggressive and got up 6-3 serving for the set. But all through the tiebreaker, I just couldn’t generate any racquet head speed on my first serve and couldn’t get it over the net. That continued for the next two points, which I lost.
He was serving 5-6, second serve… and I followed Emmo’s advice from several years ago, standing in the alley to “show him my forehand.” He double faulted.
In the second set, I found myself again down two breaks; but this time could not get back in it. So he won it 6-2.
We were the last of the top four singles matches to still be playing; and all of them had gone to the Champions 10-point tiebreaker to decide it. Roy Emerson came on the court and sat in my chair to encourage me and hopefully intimidate my opponent. But I again fell behind two break points and was down 8-4 and then 9-5. Keeping the ball deep to his backhand, he made an error… 9-6. Again, keeping the ball deep to his backhand, he made another error … 9-7. I then got a short point and attacked, coming in and going to his backhand; but just pushed it long. 6-7, 6-2, 10-7. In three tough hours.
Our team split to top four match tie breakers; but ending up leading the morning nine matches to five; on the strength of our five through ten singles (including Rich Tarantino), who won EVERY MATCH.
In the afternoon matches, I played #3 doubles with Charles McArdle from Texas (one half of the team I beat in last year’s tie breaking 10-point tie breaker to help our Wanker team win the championships). Like I was four years ago, Charles is suffering with a chest cold and was really short of breath – compounded by his nearly three-hour singles match this morning.
We teamed up against Aden Levine (my morning singles opponent) and Jeff Dink from Charleston. The match was close but we served for the first set at 5-4… didn’t convert; broke back again and served for the set at 6-5 … and didn’t convert again. So we went to a first set tie breaker.
We won the tie break 7-3 and carried the momentum into the second set. But while we were up 2-1 in the second set, Charles was struggling with his breath and I was suffering with “tennis toe” and started cramping in my right calf.
But we stayed focused and pushed across the finish line at 7-6, 6-1 (in just under two hours).
Our team won doubles courts one, two, and three; and the final outcome for our team for the day: we won in the afternoon; so on Wednesday, we will play Newk’s (Willy Hoffmann’s) team.
Dinner was Italian night, followed by another Legend panel discussion. Well, off to bed and a night’s rest (with two bottles of water on my night stand) getting for round two of the team singles and doubles matches on Wednesday.