The morning started off cool; but the temperature warmed up to the low 80s for our day of training, team positioning, and drills. A stated goal for today is “don’t work too hard on Monday” (save yourself for the two-a-day matches that start on Tuesday).
Breakfast with Rod Laver
At breakfast this morning, I sat next to friend and fellow Wanker Lenny Saltzman from Chicago and look up across the table to see Rod Laver.
I had wondered how we all would treat this great Legend, meeting him for the first time at camp; and the answer is… he is such a nice and unassuming person that it was an easy and natural conversation. What a thrill!
After breakfast, Brian Gottfried and Dick Stockton gave a clinic on how to improve your return of serve:
• THE NUMBER ONE RULE: remember that do not need to – and should not – stand in the same place to return serve all the time.
• You should react to what the server is throwing at you and change your position based on that
• You should also change your position to give him “different looks” and make him think
• If the server uses a high-bouncing kick serve, you have two choices: as soon as you see the toss going over his head, come in and take it on the rise or stand back behind the baseline and take it as it comes down. Do whichever you are most comfortable.
• Use your feet to get into position (Thanks to Joel Drucker)
• And when having less time, just turn your shoulders (like on the volley).
• Play within yourself and know what you can and cannot do
• How do you deal with a very soft serve? Move your positioning in and do NOT over hit the ball; and have a reasonable target in mind.
• Think about hitting a well-placed return and NOT going for an out-right winner.
Then the teams went off to play some doubles for about two hours, with different pairings to see how we match up together. I teamed up first with Marc Segan and we played to a 5-5 tie; then with Charles McArdle and we played to a 4-4 tie. It looks like I could be playing #3 or 4 doubles for the Wankers (with Charles).
Fantasy Doubles Match
After lunch, we had our pictures individually taken with all the Legends; and then went off for some more doubles practice. I teamed with Charles and we had two challenging sets. At 4 p.m., I was on my way to the beer cooler when Steve Contardi asked me to fill in for a Fantasy Doubles match with Dick Stockton and Brian Gottfried!
So Brian and I teamed up vs. Dick and a very strong doubles player, Scott West from Columbus. While we played well, they played better. After the match, Dick Stockton gave me some real good advice… when I serve to the ad court, I stand too close to the center and lose the good angle to the opponent’s backhand and leave too much side line court open for the returner. So, I will try standing closer to the singles side line (when not serving Aussie formation). Thanks Dick!
So much for “easy Monday”!!
Then was Happy Hour and dinner of barbeque chicken and ribs. After dinner, I presented the first of four planned “Senior Moment” awards of giving away a copy of my “Senior Tennis” book. I recounted that it was 2003 when a generous cousin gave me a 60th birthday present of coming to camp; and there was a similar rookie this year… Charles Roberts received his Fantasy Camp week as a gift celebrating his 80th birthday!
Ant Hill Tennis Courts
John Newcombe then hosted a discussion with Roy Emerson and Rod Laver about their early days of tennis, growing up on farms in rural Australia, where they learned to play tennis on courts their families made from dirt of the tops of giant ant hills!
Afterwards, while others went to the bar for more drink and talk, I went off to my room to try to get a decent night’s sleep before the team competition, with singles in the morning and doubles in the afternoon starting on Tuesday vs. Fred Stolle’s defending champion Dunnies team.
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