Well, this is the last day of competition and we woke to rain-soaked courts and a beautiful sunrise sky. My three months of conditioning (+ a dose of Aleve every morning and night!) seems to have really helped; because I was only modestly tired and nothing hurt.
The morning’s clinic was given by Luke and Murphy Jensen on how to practice doubles …
• They always start off with reflex volleys, which is one the most important skills to have in doubles
• They start straight on and then do ad to ad court and deuce to deuce court
• Even though the idea is to hit to your opponent and not hit winners, you should work on the placement of your volley
• They work on each element for either three minutes or a total of about 100 strokes total
• Too many people work on their close in volley, but need to work more on that first volley from the service line
• Then one man is at the net and the other at the baseline, hitting back to each other, “like playing catch with a baseball”
• Work with your partner on their weakest serve return
• Use an “abbreviated back swing” on your return to have more control
Then we started the “Championship Thursday” matches against the Davidson led Musclemen, who were 2-0, needing to beat them to win the Championship … unless Newk’s Kangaroos who were playing the winless Stolle/Stockton/Gottfried Dunnies; and hoping to combine their win with ours to create another three-way tie.
Because of the wet courts from the overnight rain, the Legends decided to play the doubles in the morning and singles in the afternoon.
I again teamed with Charles McArdle vs. the tough #4 team of Californian Rick Morgan and Lance ___, who thought the matches started at 10 am, so was a half hour late. It was a close, hard-fought match, with them breaking us in a long 5-6 game for the first set; and then breaking us a 4-4 in the second and holding for a 7-5, 6-4 (2+ hours) victory.
At the short lunch break (we finished at 12:15), we were behind the Musclemen and Newk’s Kangaroos were winning their side.
After lunch, I slowly walked to the outer courts for a singles match vs. California emergency room Doc, 54 year old Adin Levine. Given the age difference and the long week, I decided I had to forgo my usual “aggressive baseliner” game and play mostly serve and volley tennis.
I was holding my own in the first set, until I served a long 3-4 game, which Adin won and served out the set. In the second set, I started well with a service hold and a break to go up 2-0. But with tough points and tough games he was able to come all the way back to serve for the match at 5-2. I just slowed down a step or two … feeling that if I pushed it, something in my leg muscles was going to “pop” and put me on the disabled list. Although I saved three match points, I succumbed (in more ways than one) on the fourth. Two sets… two hours.
The Musclemen ended up winning the day and the Championships – even though Newk’s team did win and end up with a similar 2-1 record (but lost head to head).
While I stood around watching with a beer in hand, Willy played a great Fantasy Doubles match with the Jensen brothers.
After Happy Hour that included fresh shrimp from the Gulf and dinner of salmon and pork tenderloins (yes, we did eat a lot all week long), there was the Awards Ceremonies. As Steve Contardi said, “This will be the longest awards presentation you will ever see!”
There were thanks all around to the Legends who made our week wonderful, the great ranch staff of young pros and in the kitchen, and to Steve Contardi and his whole family who arranged it all. Then there were plaques and pictures for people who won all their singles, all their doubles, and all their singles AND doubles.
John Newcombe “called out” Rod Laver and asked him if he would return again next year. When Laver hesitated, the crowd of 130+ started chanting “Rocket, Rocket,…” and he agreed to return!
The official ending to a truly fantastic Fantasy Week of tennis with the Legends was Roy Emerson leading all the Aussies in their rendition of “Waltzing Matilda.”
Friday morning, most will play morning drills; but I will take a day of rest (!) and then fly AirBerry back to Pelican Bay (and I will rest to get ready for our regular doubles on Saturday morning!).
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