After testing my shoulder yesterday with some cross court doubles with good friend Spike Gonzales, today was a stiffer – and actually dangerous – test in the next round of Naples City singles tournament.
Solid Opponent/ Brutal Heat
My shoulder was fine after last week’s cortisone shot; but playing 2 hours and 10 minutes in the brutal heat was the biggest challenge. Today’s singles opponent was Harvey Ahitow, who beat solid-playing Dick McNaughton in the first round. Harvey had a good serve, great forehand, and ran OK; but his backhand was his weakness.
The heat warning was there right from the start: I was dripping after the ten minute warm-up. But I started fast and Harvey missed shots; so I found myself with a commanding 5-0 lead. He picked up his game and I got a little complacent and lost two games; but served it out for 6-2.
Even though the score was lopsided, the points and games were long and the set lasted about 45 minutes. With the heat index probably in the high 90s, I started to feel it sucking the life out of me; and we exchanged a couple of service breaks to go to 3-3.
At this point, I was really dragging (and he looked better off than I felt) and was actually concerned that I couldn’t finish the match – especially with the prospect of Fred Drilling looming in the winner’s future. I briefly considered forfeiting, but just chose to go for winners and not to run for any shots.
I was serving at 4-5 and really sucking wind; and debated tanking that game and set in order to move into the ten-point deciding tiebreaker. But I went for winners and held my serve easily.
I said to myself, “well if I can somehow now break his serve, maybe I could actually serve it out at 6-5.” I did break his serve and wondered if I had anything left to serve it out.
A late friend of mine once said, “When you are tired, serve as hard as you can.” First point: ace down the middle. Then three more strong serves and the set and match were mine, 6-2, 7-5.
Thankfully, the muscle cramps did not start till I pulled into my driveway 20 minutes later. Whirlpool, water, pickle juice and rest seem to cured them.
It was a tournament victory; but not sure it was smart. Your thoughts on playing in the heat??
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