Sunday, April 11, 2010

“Losing Ugly on Court 6: An Update”

That's the subject line of an email Charlie sent to Patrice and me on Thursday. I’m including some gems along with my analysis of our singles match. Excerpts from his email are in italics.

We started with a discussion of the tennis trophies won by you and Naomi, and how tennis is a mental game.

A bit of hyperbole here: one trophy. I’ve won a grand total of one trophy. Not including tournaments with me, Patrice has won many.

Charlie has an “Aw, shucks” attitude about playing singles. But he has a tricky slice. It either has some pace on it (and I almost run through it) or it doesn’t have pace on it (and I can barely get to it). And of course there’s the angle.

I ran a lot in the first set and eked out a win, 6-3. Then I lost the next game.

“I need to come up or hit better ground strokes.”
“Depends on what I’m doing.”


Fearing that my fragile male ego might be damaged if she didn't make it closer, Naomi then spotted me 4 games in the second set, letting me get up 4-0.

Um, no. Charlie does not have a fragile ego. He does, however, have a killer drop shot. He’d slice a short ball and then calmly follow up with a passing shot, usually to my forehand side.

“So if I want to come back, it has to be now.”
Charlie nodded. “You can do it. It’s all mental.”

I did manage to come back: 1-4, eventually 3-5. I was serving at 15-40. Set point.

Then I told myself it was not set point. Because that's too much pressure. (When I’m serving a set point in matches, I also pretend it’s not. Especially if it's match point.)

4-5. Then 5-5. But Charlie stayed in it, 5-6. Finally, 6-6.

In the tiebreaker, I got up 6-1, but Naomi prevailed 8-6.

I have no memory of the tiebreaker, though I do recall being far behind. I wish I knew how I got back in. It would be useful to know how to win seven points in a row in a match. “One at a time,” I can imagine Charlie saying.

Surprisingly enough, I really had a good time. However, Naomi reminds me of the expression we use about you on Monday nights: "Patrice likes to win."

Indeed. Patrice and I both like to win. But it's rare that we play opponents who encourage us to. Thanks, Charlie!

In case you were wondering, the subject line refers to Brad Gilbert’s Winning Ugly: Mental Warfare in Tennis—Lessons from a Master. I’m only halfway through, but I like the message so far: There’s always a way to win.

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