This annual event between players aged 45-80 from Quebec vs. New England took place this weekend at the Waterville Valley Resort in northern New Hampshire. Having missed last year’s episode due to having just had hip replacement surgery, I was anxious to return to singles competition for the first time in a year and a half.
The Conditions …
… were extremely challenging! The wind was howling at a constant 22 mph out of the north, with regular gusts of 25-30 mph. So, hitting from the south end, you had to crush the ball to get it deep in the court; and from the north side, you had to control it so as to not fly over the baseline.
There were 18 red brick dust courts at the complex; and the one we played on was so soft the player’s chairs sank down an inch into the surface. The bounces the ball took on the court were LAUGHABLE … I hit one serve into the middle of the box and got such a horrendous bounce, it was an ace.
My opponent was a nice guy and nice lefty player named Jay Bochner, who ran well and had an excellent backhand slice crosscourt and forehand slice as well. On the funny court, his balls mostly skidded and stayed irregularly low.
In the first set, we started with four consecutive breaks of serve; but then he held twice while I continued to lose tough, close service games; and he took the set 6-2.
In the second set, I was determined to fight through the wind and crazy bounces to play offense … and took the set 6-3.
The third set reverted back to the first, where he broke me twice and was serving 3-0. I almost invoked “The Irvine Protocol” and called it a day, but really felt strangely OK; so I played on.
I then broke him twice, while holding my own serve to bring it back to 3-3. After two more games, he broke me at 4-4 and served for the match. The marathon match continued with a marathon game for about 15 minutes … where he didn’t convert three match points and I didn’t convert three break points. But, he put us both out of misery by converting his fourth match point for a 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 (three hour!) victory.
Even though I came out on the losing end of the score, I was delighted to be playing competitive singles and to still be running hard at the end of a three-hour match.
Chuck Kinyon and Others
Chuck was on the next court and had nearly the identical match to mine … losing the first set, winning the second set, but holding on to WIN 7-5 in the third!
Howie Ames came onto the singles court just two months after his own hip replacement surgery and played well … winning 6-1, 6-4. And New Hampshire friend Larry Barnes joined the team and lost a tough three-setter, 6-4 in the third.
At the end of the day’s singles matches the Canadians were leading 23 matches to our 17.
I suddenly have a very sore wrist; and if it improves, Chuck and I team up at #1 doubles in the 75 age group vs. the strong Canadian team of John Tibbets (who bested our Bill Simonton in two sets on Saturday) and Chuck’s singles opponent.
The American Team:
John Tashiro (Double duty due to injury)
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