The Tale of This Tournament

I Qualify!
I Qualify!
This week is the fourth Florida Super Senior Grand Prix tournament and is being played at the Palm Aire Tennis Club in Sarasota. I was set for a full week of singles and doubles matches starting on Tuesday; but once again, things got a little screwy.

Doubles

While the singles draw came out “on time” last Friday, planning our hotel, dog kennel, and cat watcher for the doubles was challenging; because that draw was not posted until Sunday at 3 p.m. … and showed chuck and me playing our first match at 10 am (and then my singles at 1:30 p.m.).

So DeDe and I rearranged our planning to leave the house at 7 am on Tuesday; but as it turned out, Chuck had to withdraw from the tournament; so NO doubles.

Singles

With the rain on Monday impacting the matches, my feed-in round was rescheduled to finish Tuesday morning and the last time I looked; my match with the winner was at noon on Tuesday. Buuuuuuuuuuut, there was a later update that moved my match till WEDNESDAY at noon!

So when I arrived (after our two hour drive from Naples) Tuesday morning, I was surprised to learn that I was not playing that day. Luckily, I was able to grab another non-scheduled tournament player Bob Royden and our friend Bill Plummer got us a court at his community; so Bob and I could practice for an hour+.

Finally a Match

So today’s second round singles was vs. Dan Garrick and I told DeDe this would be a very “challenging” match. Even though I had beaten him in 2010 and 2012, Dan has been playing a lot of tournaments and improved his game — which is a slicing, retrieving, grinder game.

We started off sharing some breaks of serve and at 2-2 he came back from a 0-40 hole to hold serve. The next game his MO continued and I went down 0-40.

I was able to right the ship by playing offensive, side-to-side groundstrokes; and came back to not only hold serve… but run off SEVEN CONSECUTIVE GAMES to take the first set 6-3 and up 3-0 (one break) in the second.

We then both held serve and at the 1-4 changeover, he said to his friends (DeDe relayed to me afterwards), “George is taking me to the cleaners here. I have to bring out The Junk.”

Don’t Play a Junker’s Game

He did just that and I lost the offensive and got sucked into playing his game. He then brought it back to me serving at 5-5. That service game had at least 15 deuces/break/game points and lasted about 15-20 minutes!

I somehow held that service game; but so did Dan at 5-6, to bring us to a set tiebreaker. He got off to a very, very fast start (I think I helped a little!) and we switched sides (Coman 7-point tie break) with him serving at a commanding 5-0 to bring us into a deciding third set.

I told myself, “Just win his two service points.” And I did.

Then I told myself, “Just win my two service points.” And I did.

As we changed sides, he said “Easy come, easy go.”

I then told myself, “Win this 5-4 point and all the pressure will be on him.” And I did.

He then served in the deuce court at 5-5, missed his first serve; and I followed Roy Emerson’s great advice and “Showed him my forehand” by standing way inside the court and near the center stripe. He double faulted.

I then served 6-5 match point… missed my first serve… and thought about my match at Sterling Oaks vs. Ralph Grieco, where I double faulted in that same situation! But I was able to safely spin the serve in and got into a good ground stroke rally.

Hitting a forcing forehand deep to his backhand corner, I came to the net… and that is where he hit his shot (into the net). 6-3, 7-6 (5) in 2 hours and 30 minutes.

The lesson to learn: Play YOUR game, not your opponent’s.

Tomorrow’s singles match is vs. #5 seeded Tom LaPenna, a friend of Spike’s from upstate NY, who Spike says plays the “mirror image” of my game.

For the link to the tournament site, please click HERE

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4 thoughts on “The Tale of This Tournament

  1. Nice match description! Good thing you are a patient person! I will remember two things you said as I play in my local tournament tonight 1)play my own game, and 2) show my opponent my forehand on the serve return(good tip!). My third tip: watching the video I took of Larry Turville at the World of Tennis tournament earlier. It’s inspiring!

    Good luck with the rest of the tournament, love to hear the stories.

    Mike – Thanks and I agree that watching videos of the Big Boys is very helpful. george

  2. And, Mike, another thought – you’ve always carried the expectation of winning into every long, arduous singles match I have watched you play; even after losing a set. Every champion must expect victory no matter the challenges.

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