Playing a Pusher

Rich Tarantino
Rich Tarantino
This week at the World Tennis Club in Naples, started the Florida Super Senior Grand Prix series of tournaments, with players coming in from all of the country – and the world. But the singles match of the day involved my Naples/Connecticut/Newcombe Camp friend Rich Tarantino.

Pusher Extraordinaire

You can be kind and say someone who plays like Rich is a “baseliner,” but after watching much of his 3.5 hour singles match vs. retired Chicago school teacher Bobby Hampton today, he was mostly just “pushing” the ball back over the net.

After winning the first set in a tie-breaker, Rich was running Bobby ragged (who survived his first round singles match on Monday in a grueling 7-5; 6-7; 7-5), pushing him side to side and up and back. Bobby mostly was falling into the trap of playing a pusher… he was either playing the pusher’s game and losing points or going for too much and missing.

In the second set, Bobby took control… played controlled aggression and took the second set at 7-5. But I said to the people who were watching with me that Rich was a “warrior” and would outlast a tired Bobby in the third set.

He almost proved me right, zooming out to a 5-1 lead. But then, but then… Rich started waiting for Bobby to miss… and he didn’t. Bobby went back to controlled aggression and made it… 5-2, 5-3, 5-4, 5-5 , 6-5, and 7-5 for a great come from behind victory for a very tired Bobby Hampton!! (the website shows a tie breaker in the third, but if my memory is correct, it was not).

My Singles Match

Lenny and Me
Lenny and Me

After a first-round bye, I played my good friend Lenny Saltzman from Newk camp and just in from Chicago on the “Stadium court”, with a “huge crowd” of maybe 12 people watching. Lenny plays a bit like Rich, but with more offense.

He had a strong win on Monday, but didn’t have his game on this day. I was able to stay focused and cruised to a 6-1, 6-0 victory.

So on Wednesday, i play the #10 seeded Jeff Thomas of Port St. Lucie, Florida.

Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Doubles Finals.

Chuck Kinyon and I (#1 seeds in the 70s doubles) then took on the tired Rich Tarantino and lefty Paul Veltman in our first round doubles match. Chuck and I cruised… winning the first set 6-2 and going up 3-0, two service breaks in the second set.

But then, but then…. We both started missing shots and the Big MO went to the other side of the net. We somehow lost that set 6-4 and went to a deciding Ten Point Match Tie Breaker. The MO stayed on their side and they upset us (in more ways than one).

All credit to Paul and the incredible stamina of Rich Tarantino, who played FIVE HOURS of tough, tournament tennis.

For all the results and future matches, please click HERE

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8 thoughts on “Playing a Pusher

  1. Great to hear from you, George, on this dynamic circuit.

    I think terms like “pusher” and “dinker” and “junk” and other such concepts should be eliminated from the tennis lexicon. Yes, part of this personal because I have been called many of them since my first tournament — and this by the guy who had just beaten me.

    Rich T is simply a fine tennis player. He understands that the first and last rule of the game is keeping the ball in play. He grasps precisely the amount of technical skill he has that will let him get the ball in the court repeatedly. And of course the way tennis works is that one man’s alleged pusher-rough opponent is another’s easy opponent.

    I could go on and on about this but I’ll merely pause by asking this question:
    + What do you call a pusher who can volley?

    Keep up the fine reports, George.


    Joel – and, Rich CAN volley and hit overheads; so i do not know… but i do know that he (and you) are both pains in the butts to play! george

  2. I just turned 60 last week — you guys are my heroes!!! I’m already looking forward to seeing everyone again at Newk’s next fall.

    Joe – it gets better with age! george

  3. George, Please give my best to Bobby Hampton. We played a CAT II in Indianapolis a few years ago for 4 hours!

    Arnold – Yikes. will do. george

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