Well, this is the last day of competition. And three months of conditioning seems to have really helped; because I am not tired and nothing hurts. The morning’s clinic was given by Dick Stockton and Marty Reissen on how to hit the overhead (after Dickie showed us his “trick shots”)…
• The key to the overhead, like every other shot in the game is: preparation and footwork
• Get yourself into position sideways with BOTH your upper body and your feet
• You’ll move much better backwards when you are sideways
• Like an outfielder in baseball, track the ball with your opposite hand
• Like the serve, try to hit the ball as high as you can reach (don’t let the ball drop too low)
• When to let the ball bounce rather than take it in the air? Most all of the time. The exceptions are when your opponent has lobbed to get himself back on the court and back in the point or it’s a good offensive lob over your head.
• Given the choice, hit the overhead to your opponent’s backhand corner
Then we started the “Championship Thursday” matches against the Fred Stolle/Dick Stockton/Mark Woodforde Dunnies. My match (on court #4 today) was against Chris Lorenzi, 52-year-old from NJ (I was only giving away 15 years this time).
My intelligence report from Willy was that his slice backhand was much stronger than his forehand and his best serve was the slice wide in the deuce court and down the middle in the ad; and that he served and volleyed a lot.
I won the toss and via Brad Gilbert’s advice, elected to receive and break his serve – which I did do. I played to his forehand and he started missing shots; so I played everything – and I mean everything – to his forehand. And I told myself to play “under control”.
It may have been the most controlled match I have ever played, taking too big a swing at maybe two or three shots. After I held serve and broke him again, his spirit was also broken.
I stayed totally focused and won the first ten games. Toward the end of that string of games, he decided he had to change tactics and, rather than trying for big topspin returns, hit slice forehands. So I started coming in behind my serve; took the ball in the air and volleyed away winners. Final: 6-0, 6-1.
Perhaps the biggest lesson I learned at camp this year (from Emmo’s on-court coaching) is to take a short backswing on the return of serve. The harder the server hits, the shorter your backswing should be.
I then went back to my room to shower and go out and watch the end of the other morning matches. Mike Dahm, playing #2 for the other team, won in two fairly easy sets; John Berry won his doubles against us; and Wanker Rich Tarantino won a tough singles in a Champions Tiebreaker. So for the morning’s 14 matches, we won seven and the Dunnies won seven!
In the afternoon, I again teamed up with Charles McArdle, this time against my morning singles opponent and the Dunnies #3 player, Scott Miller of OH. Scott was the dominating factor, with strong serves, returns, and volleys. So they won easily 6-1, 6-1.
With our match over quickly, I got to watch the remaining ones to see who would win the championship. It came down to the #2 doubles match (with Mike Dahm on the opposing team). It was a long and extremely close match that THEY won in a second set tiebreaker. So the Dunnies are the 2010 Champs.
But the ‘good news’ is … I now have some energy left to go out and play my Fantasy Doubles match on the Show Court with Mark Woodforde and Rick Leach.
Rick Leach was my doubles partner against Woody and Phil Shapiro from Connecticut. We had a real fun and close match… I figure the pros play at 50-60% of capacity against the campers at my level and 80-90% when hitting to each other.
We were on serve at 4-4, using no-ad serving, when we broke and had Rick Leach serving for the set/match. We got to 40-30, with him serving to Woody. Rick said to me, “You better stand back a step and be ready for Woody to crack one right at you.” He did… and I got it back in play; but they won the point. Then at deuce, the pros serve to each other (and campers to campers); so he served to Woody and warned me again.
Woody blasted another one at me at the net; but I got it back again; and we won the point, the game and the set. Fun tennis!
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 (undefeated in singles and doubles,Mike Dahm), and several special awards including inductees into the Fantasy Camp Hall of Fame (Willy Hoffmann). 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).