This weekend was the first half of the Pelican Bay Club Championships with many divisions; and I played in a small singles round robin format – which proved very challenging.
With only four entries in the Open Singles Division, we played just SEVEN GAMES against each opponent on Saturday – and the “matches” were spaced at least an hour apart. So you warmed up, played seven games; sat or went home; warmed up and played another seven games; and then repeated the process one more time. It was really a tough way to get your teeth into a match, allowing for funny things to happen.
The two players who won the most games would move onto the finals on Sunday (which would be a standard best of three sets, with a ten-pointer for the third set).
My first match was against Steve Boe, a lefty, 50-something, 15-year neighbor of mine — who I had never played (he works all day). Steve played very well and I struggled for a 4-3 final score.
Meanwhile, 6’5” Jack Moter easily handled Connecticut friend and Newk camper, Rich Tarantino 6-1 on a nearby court (that score comes into play later).
My second “match” was an hour later against big, steady, and solid Jack Moter (pictured). We split the first six games and he held serve in the last for a 4-3 victory.
As we went into the last match of the day, Jack Moter was easily in the lead; so the fight was between me (7 games) and Rich Tarantino (5 games) for second and a place in Sunday’s finals. “All I had to do” was win three of the seven games to be in; but if Rich won 5-2, he would be in.
Rich played very tough (as those of you know him, know he can do). He mostly “pushed” the ball back and gave me absolutely no pace to hit with + mixed that up with rushing the net. He also rushed to a 4-1 lead!
As we changed ends, I said to DeDe: “I have to win both of these last two games to get into the finals.” And I said to myself, “I am going to try to stop pushing with him and play Fearless Tennis. If I am going to lose, it is going to be swinging at the ball.”
I held serve at 15. And was able to break Rich’s final service game to back into the finals with a 3-4 lose. Poor Richard (pun intended), won two out of his three matches 4-3, and 4-3; but because he lost the first one 6-1 didn’t make the finals.
On Sunday, Jack Moter and I took the court for the finals. In my opinion, he had the better tennis strokes (especially his down-the-line backhand and his short-ball forehand); but I had the better legs.
And the legs carried me to a hard-fought, one hour and forty minutes 6-4, 6-2 victory.