Another cloudy morning for our second round of team play against the Stolle/Stockton/Woodforde Dunnies; while yesterday’s other winning team, Newk’s (Willy Hoffmann) Kangaroos played the Davo/Case Musclemen. The morning clinic was Emmo filling in beautifully on one of the other Legends (who must have slept in); and his topic was “the return of serve”
• The most important thing is “early preparation”
• Normally you start by standing about on the baseline; and moving sideways is “acceptable”… but moving in on the diagonal is “preferable”
• You never want to be moving back on the return
• Agassi had the quickest hands on the return of serve Emmo has ever seen; and he never backed up
• Stand waiting for the ball with your weight on the balls of your feet
• You want to end up with your body weight moving forward and your lead shoulder lower than your back shoulder
• Always stand with the racquet well out in front, with your wrist and the handle in line, and the racquet head slightly up
• Before someone serves to you, make up your mind where you want to hit your return off both sides
• If the serve is too good, get it back as best you can — but get it back in play
• If your opponent is serving and volleying, your goal is to just get the ball down at his feet
• If the server is using a high kicker, take it on the rise
My morning singles match was against rookie Paul Koontz, a 50ish solid player from California. In the first set, according to coach Marty Reissen, I let him control the points and I lost 6-2. Marty advised that I should hit out more on my shots and be more aggressive.
I tried, but was having real trouble with his loopy, topspin forehand… And found myself serving at 2-5 to stay in the match. I raised my level of aggression and charged the net on every chance I saw. I held at love, and then he served a nervous next game trying to serve out the match.
I was able to break and then serve to stay in again at 4-5. Then the critical point was a dying short volley I missed at 15-15, which would have continued my momentum; but switched to him and he broke for a straight set victory.
The trouble I had with his game was his loopy forehand … It wasn’t high enough for me to take it in the air and I didn’t like it when I backed up. The only slight success I had was taking it on the short hop, but that is not a winning game. Any advice out there??
MY BEST POINT OF THE DAY: Even though I was losing, my high point was when Paul drove a ball deep to my deuce corner … I dug it out and threw up a high lob … he then drove it deep to my opposite, ad corner … I dug it out and threw up a high, but short lob that landed inside his service box … I charged forward as he hit the swinging volley right at me … and I reflex volleyed it to the open court for a winner.
THE MATCH OF THE MORNING: One of our top doubles team of Calvin and Tom Mackessy were down 2-6, 2-5 to Byron Miller and rookie Matt ___ (friend of Lenny Saltzman from Chicago). Things got very interesting when our Wankers got the MO and won five consecutive games to take the second set and bring it to a 10 point Champion’s tie breaker.
Our guys carried the MO foreword and stormed out to a commanding (?) 8-3 lead. The next point was a long one, which ended with our guys netting a volley that would have given us 9-3, six match points on the changeover. But the fickle Mr. MO switched sides as the opponents won five points in a row to tie it at 8-8. We won the next point and had a match point … not converted. And the Dunnies prevailed in the end 11-9.
John Berry and his partner, playing for the Dunnies, outlasted our Jack Valenti and Mark Benjamin.
The morning’s results were tied at 9-9 and it came down to another Champion’s tie break at one of the mid doubles matches with our Ron Smith and Marc Wilner vs. the Dunnies Baby Doc Robert Eden and Greg Seals. Unfortunately the Dunnies prevailed and took a 10-9 lead to lunch with them.
In the afternoon doubles, I again teamed with Terry Long at #4 vs. my singles opponent from the morning and an even younger and even bigger (6’7”) Josh ___ from Boston. We could get nothing over or through them; and lost a hard fought straight set loss.
The rest of our team also went down for a 17-14 match loss for the day; while Newk’s Kangaroos edged out a 17-15 victory over the Davidson/ Case/ Jensen Dunnies. So going into the final day, we are at
• Newk’s Kangaroos: 2-0
• Emmo/Reissen/Gottfried Wankers: 1-1
• Stolle/Stockton/Woodforde Dunnies: 1-1
• Davo/Case/Jensen Musclemen: 0-2
Our Wanker team plays Newk’s on the final day of play; and if we win (and the Dunnies lose), we win based on head-to-head victories. If we win and the Dunnies also win, then we will have the Champion’s tie breaker three-way playoff that we had in 2009, when we won it all.
With my morning singles and afternoon doubles now done (in more ways than one), I had my Fantasy Doubles match to play as my third match of the day. They put me on the court opposite injured Willy Hoffmann; and our two pros were Murphy Jensen and Brian Gottfried.
Brian asked how we wanted to team up; and I responded, “Do you want to play with a tired George or an injured Willy?” He said, “Tired goes away; so I will take you.”
We had a very close 6-4 set that we finished up at 7 p.m. under the lights; and Brian and I survived to give me one victory for the day.
My Naples Mates did better: Willy played well in the morning, won his singles but lost his afternoon doubles. Rich Tarantino won both morning and afternoon. And John Berry won THREE times: morning, afternoon, plus his fantasy match against Fred Stolle.
After a Mexican night dinner, there was a tribute to the great Rod Laver, who among many of the Aussies, is still considered the greatest player ever! Then Charlie Pasarell discussed the status of the game today – and the players “request” for a larger prize money pool from the Grand Slams.
On the way out of the dining room, we were all given large photo-posters with all the legends pictures and hand-signed by all of them.
Then the annual Australian Boat Race (the team beer chugging competition) was held in between innings of the World Series; but I am in my room writing this. I would assume it 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.