Tennis Fantasy – Wednesday, Day 4

A sunny and nice Texas day for our second round of team play against the Davo/Case Musclemen; while yesterday’s other winning team, Newk’s (Willy Hoffmann) Kangaroos played the Stockton/Woodforde Dunnies. The morning clinic (which I have on video) was an excellent one of Mark Woodforde and Ross Case on doubles positioning and movement:

• The biggest mistake most club players make is getting too close to the net
• Start further back and move forward, as play dictates
• When one player moves tight to the net to hit a volley, his partner should NOT follow him tight to the net. Rather, he should take a few stapes back in anticipation of the lob off of his partner’s strong volley at the opponent’s feet
• Then, if they do not lob, your partner and you come together in mid service box
• If your opponents have an overhead, do not move forward or backup; but hold your ground in anticipation of the smash hit at/near you
• Generally speaking, there should be a cord between you and your partner … as soon as he moves into the alley to retrieve a shot, you move into the center of the court, matching his movement.
• Then when he comes back, you slide back over … all the time, protecting the middle of the court (and making them try the difficult cross court shot into the alley)
• When your opponents are returning very well cross court, use the tandem/Aussie formation against them
• And when your opponents use that formation against you, hit your return down the line. And you don’t have to hit it hard, just well placed.
• Communicate with your partner between and during the points … but don’t overdo either one.
• The Bryan Brothers “jump to the net” by the returner’s partner is a borderline “distraction” call
• When your partner is returning serve, you should not “hug the middle line” … it will end up distracting your partner on his retrun more than it will the opponents
• And if your opponents do that against you, serve down the middle to give the returner the biggest problem
• (or, try to hot that guy with your serve)
• If your opponents are overwhelming one or both of you with their serves, don’t be afraid to both start back to give yourself a better chance (it will also give the server a “different look” and he may change his service motion because of it).
• When someone plays tandem against you, consider mirroring their positioning to block their view of the returner.

Then onto the morning’s singles matches. I again played at #4, this time against a 6’ 4” rookie, Mike Turnbuckle. He was a former basketball player with excellent movement, 15 years younger, a big reach and a good forehand, serve, and controlled (somewhat push) backhand.

In the first set, I invested in “the ground game” and tried to run and tire him. I did; but he had a one-break 5-2 lead, with me serving at love-40, triple set point. “One point at a time”… I came back to win that game. But he served a strong game; and altho I saved one more set point, he won the game and the set.

The second set mirrored the first. I played him side to side. He ran well. Was tired; but got to most everything; and was serving 5-2 for the match. I was able to break him to serve at 3-5; but it was not to be. He won 3 and 3 in just under two hours.

After the match Emmo echoed his on-court coaching by saying I was hitting my backhand too short in the court; thus giving this big guy a chance to hit an approach shot and then dominate the net.

Our Wankers on the other courts did well – except for the five matches that went to the ten-point match tie breakers … we lost four of five and were down six matches to eight at lunch time. (“if” we had converted just one of those four, we would be even)

Newk/Willy Kangaroos were leading the Dunnies at the lunch break (Willy hasn’t lost a singles match here in the last eight years!)

In the afternoon doubles, Rambo and I again teamed at #2 vs. a rookie team of a tall 39-year-old and a partner not much older. I said to Rambo before the match… “After we are done, I want you to feel like you need to apologize for being a HOG. In other words, I want you to try for every ball within your reach.”

We also stayed two back on their serve sometimes. Went up other times. Crowded their serve sometimes. Poached sometimes. Faked other times. Really mixed up what they saw.

I played solid and Rambo ran all over the court. And we smothered a very strong team 6-4, 6-2. Afterwards, one of our young opponents said to Emmo, “I am not used to seeing all those different looks they threw at us. It really through my game off.”

We needed to win the doubles by a two-match margin to win the day; and started off by winning at one, two, and three courts. But as it frequently does at this camp, it came down to the lower level matches to decide the team’s fate. Late in the afternoon, there were three doubles matches remaining, and we had to win two of the three.

Our trainer, Larry Starr teamed up with veteran Jack Valenti to pull out a great Super Tie breaker victory; but then both of the remaining matches fell to the Davo/Case Musclemen… so, they won the day.

Newk’s team prevailed over the Stockton/Woodforde Dunnies; so we go into the final day vs. Newk’s team needing a win:

• Newk’s Kangaroos: 2-0
• Emmo/Reissen Wankers: 1-1
• Davo/Case Musclemen: 1-1
• Stockton/Woodforde (defending Champs) Dunnies: 0-2

After a Mexican night dinner, there was an Australian Boat Race Time Trial controversy from the night before. At issue, which team Mario Contardi would be allowed to join. According to a powerful and poignant speech given by Angus Dean (translated by Newk) at dinner on Wednesday night as he received The Horse’s Ass Award, Ross Case’s objections and behavior the night before were “un-Australian” and that is why he had to be carried out of the clubhouse feet first.

Then the annual Australian Boat Race (the team beer chugging competition) was held without incident; and was won, as usual, by Newk’s ‘very experienced’ combined Kangaroo/Wanker team.

Off to bed for rest before the final day of team matches, dreaming of a three-way tie and sudden-death tie breaker playoffs.

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