Playing With a Pro

With Hank Irvine

How do you handle the situation of playing a “tournament match” with a superior partner (who played on the pro tour and had success at Wimbledon)?  That was my challenge this week.

Last year, Hank Irvine and I were to team up for two Sarasota-based tournaments in the Florida Super Senior Grand Prix series; but he pulled a hamstring on the singles court, literally as I was driving into the parking lot for our match, so we postponed it till now.

Payne Park Tournament

So, we tried again this year at last week’s fifth Florida west coast tournament in the popular senior series.  We were seeded #2 (based on Hank’s credentials, not mine) and had a very winnable first round match on Wednesday.

While I played OK – and we won 6-1, 6-1 – I wasn’t nervous, but was hitting “not to miss” and letting him take too many short balls over the middle, which I should have been closing in and putting away.

I texted him that night: “Hank, I was a little too tentative and deferential today; plan on changing that for tomorrow!”  He wrote back, “Go for it!

Got Better

Our semi-final match was again winnable; and I played relaxed and more aggressive; and we both played very well and focused through-out, coasting to a 6-1, 6-0 victory on Thursday.

Yesterday’s finals was against the solid team of Tommie George (MA) and George Ulrich (Connecticut) (who lost in the singles finals to Hank in the morning).  This team lost the first set to the #1 seeded team and came back to win the second and third sets.  They then repeated the process to win the semis.

Our Match

The first set was close; but we went up a break and were serving for the set at 5-4.  They just raised their level of play to break us (5-5) …. Hold serve (5-6) … and break us again for a come-from-behind 7-5 first set win.

The second set was equally close; and again we were serving at 5-4.  But this time we didn’t falter and took it 6-4.  That must have broken their spirit; because we dominated the third set and took it at 6-0.

We all knew who was the superior player on our side of the court; so most of the balls came my way.  I was able to hold my own through the match and when Hank got his racquet on the ball, he usually ended the point.  (TIP: his “winners” were mostly soft, well-placed shots away from our opponents or at a bad place for them).

How have you done playing with (or being The) pro?

For results in all age groups, click HERE

Next Week

And next week is my six consecutive (and LAST!!) tournament in the series at The Meadows in Sarasota.  Teaming again with Hank; and we are seeded #1 this time.  For the full draws, click HERE

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