It’s true! We won!
Today, under insanely hot and sunny skies, we finished that match that was interrupted by rain two weeks ago. We resumed the third set at 1-3. I was serving (on the sunny side!) at 40-15. My first serve was in, the slicer sliced it back and, in a much-needed moment of confidence, I changed the direction of the ball and whacked it at the net player. Game!
2-3. We changed sides.
This is how I’d played it in my mind. I win my serve – check – then we break the lobber’s serve, because she’s easy to break. Then we’ll be tied. Check!
3 ALL and it’s Sumi’s serve.
Sumi and I have now played 3 matches together. I have leaned a lot about how not to bother Sumi, how to let Sumi play her game. I’m a strategist, always wanting to share the info I’ve gleaned. (“Hit to her back hand, it’s a pot of gold.” “They don’t poach, down the middle solves the riddle.” “Lady with red visor has no overhead, feel free to lob.”) I like to run back to my partner and discuss – make a plan. Talking calms me. But my talking doesn’t always calm my partner (or my spouse, or my friends, or my children!) And poor Sumiko is Japanese. She has to translate all of my gibberish. During the pre-rained-out portion of this match, she finally had to say to me: “Enough!”
So I made a plan with myself. 1. Eye on the ball. 2. Have confidence. 3. No pushing. 4. Leave Sumi alone.
Sumi was serving great in warm up. Really great. She was on fire and she stayed on fire, yielding three balls that were perfect for me to poach. Go Sumi.
4-3. We’re ahead. Their stronger server is up, the slicer. I was in the deuce court, thinking, “If we win this game, we’re at 5-3. That will be bliss. Come on!” We got to 0-40. I was feeling 5-3. Big mistake, because she fought back and won that game. There must have been 3 deuces. I counted my eggs and I paid the price.
4 ALL! Ugh. Not as good as 5-3, not even close. The stress of one set made my hands shake. There’s no wiggle room with only one set. And now we’re at 4 ALL and it’s my serve! First, I managed to serve to her backhand and Sumi poached! That is the GREATEST for the server. Such a relief! Then, they had their weaker player in the ad court (backhand side), which is also a huge relief. I was – and here’s the key word – CONFIDENT – when facing the ad court player, and most of the important points are played in the ad court. I held at 40-30.
5-4! We can win here. Grab our bags, head for the locker room, celebrate. But hubris came back and bit me. The lobber was serving and I knew I could crush her serve, but I didn’t, so she held.
5 ALL. Down to the wire. Now we need to win by 2. Ugh. Sumi served great to win the next game. Their stronger player was serving at 5-6, the slicer, the one who’d fought back from 0-40 on her last serve. I wanted to end this before a tie-break. I had to stay calm and follow the plan: hit the ball, have confidence, and now, don’t count my eggs!!!!
I had a lesson yesterday (yes, because I REALLY wanted to WIN). Melissa, bless her, suggested a big deep ball to the slicer, push her back on her heals, make her slice off a high bounce. She can’t hit with top-spin — she chops every single ball.
So I returned a deep high spinny ball and she sliced it right off the court. I ran to Sumi: “Look at that.” I wanted to say, “She can’t slice a deep ball or a high bounce.” But I stopped myself. “Hit deep,” I said.
“Yes,” Sumi said, “Yes!”
And we won. 🙂
Here are a few things I’ve learned from this losing streak.
- Wining is sweeter when you’ve worked for it.
- Coconut water is better than Redbull.
- Justin Timberlake’s “What goes around comes around,” was perfect for my warm up, and “Pump It,” still kept me in it on the court.
- Sometimes silence is the way.
- I still know how to win.