Despite his size, Jeff’s two most effective weapons are his lefty-spin serve and a killer drop shot. He used both very effectively.
The First Set
Although I struggled in every of my service games, we were at 4-4, with eight consecutive service holds, when I was able to break his serve. As often happens, while serving at 5-4 for the first set, I was broken back.
He then struggled, but was able to hold serve; and then he was able to break me again to take the first set 7-5, in just over one hour.
The Second Set
Following the basic advice of Hank Irvine (who showed up to watch later in the match), I asked myself, “What are you going to do about what is happening here?” I decided to:
• Serve and volley more
• After serving and not volleying, to stand two feet inside the base line
• Move him as much as possible side to side
• Return serve in the ad court by standing in the alley
I was able to take control of the match; and took the set at 6-3.
The Third Set
We got new balls and Jeff took a bathroom break; and he came back to break me in my first service game. He then held serve to take a 2-0 lead … and I was questioning whether I had it in me to fight back.
But once again going to the steps above, I was able to come “roaring back” (that is really a joke, because neither one of us was “roaring” after over two hours in the heat and humidity). But somehow I won five of the next six games and found myself serving at 5-3 for the match.
His first point was his third net court dribbler of the match (to my zero); and he leveraged that to his critical service break. He then served at 4-5 to stay in the match and, although I had five break points, he held to bring it to 5-5 in the third set.
Hank Irvine asked me through the fence, “Are you tired?” and I responded “Very!” But somehow I was able to hold serve and force him to serve at 5-6 to extend the match.
At that stage, after three hours, his strokes finally broke down and he made three consecutive unforced errors. I forced the last point by coming to the net and he hit it into it.
5-7, 6-3, 7-5… three hours.
P.S. Hank’s post-game advice was that i should have done what i did TO THE EXTREME, standing way wide and in close to return serve.
Tomorrow (assuming I don’t cramp up totally) I play Doug McCrea, who upset #5 Clive Kileff, in the quarters.
For all the results and the full draw, please click HERE
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