How do you play a guy who hits great cross court topspin forehands, two-handed backhands cross court and down the line and runs very well? According to my good friend and tennis pro Spike Gonzales, you play the ball down the middle.
That is the playing style of my Monday singles opponent, Mike Delucca from Portland, Maine. He is the #9 seed in this crowded and quality field; and is the one who beat me at World Tennis in that strange 1-6, 6-0, 6-0 match; and also beat Hank Irvine and Clive Kileff in straight sets.
Don’t give him the shot he wants to hit
Spike had seen him play; so coached me to avoid his favorite cross court strokes, have patience, and hit the ball down the middle until he made an unforced error or gave me a shot to attack. And that is what I did – for nearly three hours!
We started in the late afternoon setting sun and in the first set (like last time), he did make unforced errors and I was serving for the set at 5-3; but quickly went down 0-40. But I pulled it back together to take the set 6-3.
The Play Continues Into Darkness
I continued with the same game plan and was actually up a break, serving 5-4 for the match. Don’t remember missing shots; but he was able to break, hold and break again to take the second set at 7-5.
Now under the lights, I chose to have new balls for the third set (I was actually hitting harder than he was) and started play. With long points and long games, we exchanged several service breaks and I was serving 4-3.
This is where Spike’s second impact comes into play … I had agreed to be part of our normal Monday morning doubles group at Spike’s Wilderness club in the morning; and think I lost a half-step going for some shots at this point in the match.
So end of story, he was able to break, hold and break for a nearly three-hour 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 well deserved victory.
I am reminded of the great line from the end of the first Rocky Balboa story, where Rocky clinches with Apollo Creed after losing a long and bloody fight and Creed says, “Ain’t giving you no rematch.” And Rocky replies, “Don’t want one.”
For the rest of the results and to see Chuck Kinyon and my doubles draw, which starts today, just click HERE
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