I felt good on the morning of this third day; and the weather cooperated for our first singles match, with no wind and a cloud cover to keep the sun away.
Before the morning matches, Murphy Jensen gave the clinic on “consistency” …
• Tennis is a very simple game, played by complicated people
• We all know the 4.0 player who has “that great shot”; but that is all he has
• In coaching his team tennis group, their philosophy is to get the ball back in play
• If you can get the ball back in play three times, your odds of winning the point are 90% better
• Don’t feel like you have to crush the ball; rather, play “the real estate game” and use the whole court
• When you warm up for a match, strive to keep every ball back in play… your opponent will say to themselves “this guy doesn’t miss anything” (this is the same advice Spike gave to me!)
• Decide what you plan on doing on the return of serve; and stick with it
Our team played against the Owen Davidson/Ross Case/Rick Leach Muscleman; while Newk’s Kangaroos played the Fred Stolle/Dick Stockton/Marc Woodforde Dunnies. While I would really stack up at the #5 singles spot on our large team, Emmo made the strategic move of playing Andy Hallock “up” at #5; and I played Tom David (who I beat three years ago) at #6.
I couldn’t remember Tom’s game until we started playing; and I saw that excellent first serve. My objective ended up being “just get it back in play” and work the point from the baseline.
That strategy worked; and I was serving for the first set at 5-2, 40-15 … when things started getting interesting. Tom played a couple of very good points, one of which was a ball near the sideline that I thought was out; but played it as good, because it was really too close to call out on set point.
That gave him the momentum to break my serve, hold his own serve easily, and then have me serving at 5-4, 15-40 (double break point, to bring him back to even). But with Emmo standing in the back of my court, I was able to dig deep to come back and win the game and the first set.
The second set was even closer … we traded service break early and I had to serve at 4-5 and 5-6 to stay in the set. Which I did successfully because I listened to my own advice, asking “what is happening here and what can I do about it?”
I realized serving to his backhand wasn’t doing me much good; because he was chipping it back safely. So I tested his forehand and realized that it was breaking down under pressure. With Emmo coaching me from the sideline, he said hit to his forehand and come in behind it to put more pressure on him.
That is what helped me save those games and get into a second set tie breaker… which I was able to win at 7-3, for a two-set, two-hour victory.
We then watched remaining doubles matches going on (for those guys who opted to play doubles only, primarily due to injuries). One of our top doubles teams, Calvin Cole? (pro from Longwood Ranch, Sarasota, Florida) and Tom Mackessy, from Columbus (and Bonita!) survived and won in a Champion’s tiebreaker. That brought us to a morning lead of 11 matches to 9, going into the afternoon of all doubles.
Newk’s team also led after the morning; and went on to win their afternoon matches.
In our afternoon matches, I played #4 doubles (out of 12 positions) with Terry Long vs. a good team of Tom David (who I just beat in the morning’s singles) and big Mike Hornbuckle (who beat me last year in singles, for my only loss of the week). Terry and I were able to out-steady them; and after a close 6-4 first set, we cruised to a 6-1 second set.
The day ended with our whole team watching our #7 doubles team of Mark Benjamin and the frustrating-to-play Jack Valenti vs. big Arnie Jones and Gary ___. The match score for the afternoon was at 6-5 for the Musclemen. So if we won the match, we won the day because of our two-match lead from the morning. But if they won the match, the day would be even – and they would win the number of sets won tie breaker.
Our guys won the first set and broke at 4-5 in the second to win the match, and win the day.
Tomorrow, winners play losers; so we will face the Stolle/Stockton/Woodforde Dunnies; while Newk’s Kangaroos play the Owen Davidson Musclemen.
Dinner was Italian night, followed by another Legend panel discussion, with doubles specialists Woodforde, Leach, and Murphy talking about their greatest matches. There was a question from the floor that went unanswered – and Joel Drucker and I were “challenged” to find the answer… why is Davis Cup called a “tie”? Anyone know???
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.