Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tennis: Honey Badgers’ fourth team win

Last night we continued our streak with a team win over Oconomowoc Lake.

Kelly, our #1 singles player, cheerfully played outside on the lone available clay court. Though the court conditions weren't ideal, she toughed it out and won in straight sets. Great consistency and tenacity!

At #2 singles, Melanie made her team debut looking relaxed and confident. She also turned in the night's most dominant performance at 6-0, 6-3. We're all proud of you, Melanie!

Carol and Jean played hard and stayed focused to stave off a late-match rally from their opponents. They won, 6-4, 6-4. And Carol, way to finish with an ace!

At #1 doubles, Colleen and Jan split sets. They were a very competitive team and played terrific tennis. I had to leave for Summerfest but wish I could have stayed to cheer them on. Patty later left me a voice mail: In a valiant effort, they lost the third set. But taking it to three sets against a solid team: great!

Awesome focus and play on all of our indoor courts — even with Doug wandering by and yelling, "Honey Badgers!" A couple of times. Our mascot is very vocal.

I stopped at Brookfield East to catch the end of Marilee and Sandy's match. I missed the comeback of the night (well, unless you count Hall and Oates): They were down 5-1 in the first set and won it 7-6 (tiebreak score was 7-2, if you were wondering). Then they took the second set, 6-2.

Way to go, both of you. And in your first match together!

Halfway through the season, our record is 17 and 8. Our team just gets better and better.

Go team!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Oldies but goodies: Hall and Oates

I've never been to Summerfest when there were so many people at a side stage.

I wandered away to get some reuben rolls and when I came back, I couldn't find Keith in the masses of people watching fireworks. Thankfully we met up at Saz's and found some space near the t-shirt stand.

Hall and Oates are totally worth seeing, even if you have to go to a 10 p.m. show on a school night. Totally!

I had really tried to get a group together. But when I asked my work friends if they like H2O, most of them shot me down (some more politely than others):

"I like to make fun of Hall and Oates."

"No. Do you?"

"I guess I wouldn't change the station."

"I don't know. Do I?"

Sure, there were some promising answers. It was heartening to hear "My friend and I used to always go to the bar and play Private Eyes" and "I anticipate screaming like a 13-year-old on The Ed Sullivan Show during a Beatles appearance."

In the end, the huge crowd and a star sighting made me feel better. "Even Barry Alvarez loves Hall and Oates!" Keith said.

The time flew by in an 80s flashback. I could barely see (particularly the diminutive Oates, even in his melon-colored shirt), but I loved hearing Maneater, Family Man, Sara Smile, and Adult Education. There was only one song I didn't recognize, something from the 70s. Otherwise, it was one great tune after another.

In their first encore, they played You Make My Dreams — one of my favorites, that toe tapper! For the second, of course, it was Kiss on My List. If I were taller, I would have seen Oates play the guitar with his teeth.

The final song was — clap clap — Private Eyes.

Going to an H&O concert should be on your bucket list. Their music is one of the best things in life.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tennis: Honey Badgers’ third team win

Tonight we traveled to the cavernous building that is Princeton, to take on the top team in our flight. Before our match, they were 13-2. They went to playoffs last year.

So we had our work cut out for us.

After doing some juggling because of schedules, I emailed Patty and mentioned different lineup options. "Stay with your first instincts," she said.

I kept the original lineup, putting Patrice and me at #2 doubles.

So, did you know that Princeton has low ceilings? Yet I could not stop lobbing. I'm sure the people watching from the viewing area upstairs were puzzled by this. I know I was.

Amy slammed plenty of overhead winners at us. And yet somehow we got through it. (It's not that I say this casually. I just couldn't tell you specifically what we did to get through it.) But we did: 7-6, 6-3.

Becky and Jan took their court in three sets. They are so terrific together, and I knew Becks would have her game face on when she called to tell me she arrived an hour early. (Okay, it was by accident, but still.) I never, ever underestimate the two of them as a team.

And Sandy! Not only did she win in straight sets, she came back from a 4-0 deficit in the second set to take it 7-5. Wow! Could you do that in your first singles match of the season? I love the spirit and toughness!

Beth, Marilee, and Lisa, kudos for going out there and playing honey-badger style. You had to take on the best of the best, being in the #1 spots. We know how tough that is (I've had to play Wendy twice — unfortunately, she is a honey badger, too). Way to play hard!

And Carol and Dianne and Patty, thank you for staying till the very end and sharing cake for Beth's birthday. There was lots to celebrate.

Tonight was truly an achievement: Four weeks into the season, we are the only team to win against Princeton. The only!

I'll leave you with a reminder — the good luck message that Jean, who couldn't play tonight, sent all of us before the match:

"You can beat 'em. Don't forget who we are. The fierce, fighting Honey Badgers!"

Go team!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

An eventful night of tennis

Tonight's match — like most — had great shots, unforced errors, energy, fatigue, the usual highs and lows. But also a lot more.

Patrice and I started our match outdoors at Western. It was a muggy night — lots of rain during the day — and I said, "At least my muscles will be loose."

When I went to retrieve a ball after a point, I slipped and fell on the muddy grass. Good thing my muscles were loose. (Patrice fell earlier today, too, riding her bike in the rain.)

And my toe hurt. Not from falling but from tripping on the couch on Saturday. So it felt great to fall and not get injured. Seriously, I was grateful!

We won the first set. Then the skies rumbled and our opponents Julie and Karen suggested we nab an indoor court before anyone else did.

Inside, we lost the second set. They were up 5-3 when it was my turn to serve. The lights went out. In the dark I said, "30-love." Maybe this would also be a reprieve for my serve, which had gone into hiding.

We took a break waiting for the halogen lights to come back on. Ann, our captain, offered me an Advil.

A few minutes later, we resumed play at 30-love. We won that game but lost the next one.

The third set, we were either tied or down a game. I tried not to get nervous when they were up 5-4.

Then we were up at 6-5. I could hear people clapping. For us, for them. Did we close it out? No. Julie held serve.

I'm getting a lot of experience playing tiebreakers. Finally, almost three hours after we started, we won and shook hands with Julie and Karen. And when we came up the stairs, the first thing we heard was the Western team telling us, "Great match!"

It was even better being able to celebrate with our teammates Ann, Jessica, and Jody. And Carol, thanks for giving me the emergency tape for my toe.

Our first 4.0 win! But no time to relax. We'll have another tough match tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tennis: Honey Badgers’ second team win

Sometimes the score tells only part of the story.

Tonight our team won four courts against Le Club. Though we did this in straight sets, the scores don't always reflect how hard we had to work.

But first, a little backstory. I’ve known Jody, the Le Club captain, for years. Occasionally our mixed teams have crossed paths or we've met up in a tournament. But we also play together on another team — and it’s an odd relationship to one day be teammates and the next day, opponents.

But Jody is used to this, as she has tons of experience captaining and playing on different teams. Last week she cheered for Patrice and me. Tonight, she and Suzy were our opponents.

And how!

Patrice and I won the first set, then saw our efforts slip away into a 4-1 deficit in the second. My Gatorade wasn’t kicking in, either. I still made a lot of unforced errors. (Also, the very large pre-match lunch at Jose’s may have slowed me down. You know what’s great about Qdoba? Portion control.)

At some point, we arrived at 6-all. The tiebreak was a blur. I don't mean it went fast, I mean I don't remember it. This was the most exhausting match I've played in almost two years. But we did it! And next week, Jody and Patrice and I will again be on the same team, encouraging each other.

Two courts away, Carol and Jean launched their own comeback, rallying from a 5-2 deficit to take the first set 7-5. Then they won the second. Two words: mental toughness.

On court 2, Jan did not disappoint in her season debut. Becks commented, “She’s a wonderful player and she kicked me in the butt.” Not literally. They got it done together, 7-6, 6-4. Great job!

At singles, Katie took a straight-set victory: 6-1, 6-1. Impressive! Katie, I wish I had gotten to see you play.

Lisa took Le Club’s #1 singles player to three sets in a match that lasted two hours. That is a heckuva long time to be playing competitive tennis. Fantastic, Herculean effort!

I was so focused on the post-match Jimmy John’s and cookie assortment, I forgot to record scores. Colleen, thank you for doing that and giving me some time to hang out with our friends. Ron, Matt, and Abbey, it was also nice to know there was someone else rooting for us. I loved that you were there.

Go team!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tennis: Honey Badgers prevail

Here's my recap of tonight's match. I'll try to do them weekly — though, no promises. (I already missed last week.)

So, without further ado: We had a team win — four courts! — against Pleasant Valley.

All of our doubles courts won in straight sets. Dianne and Jean, who never play together, were especially impressive in their 6-0, 6-1 victory that took less than an hour. Tremendous!

Becks was our 11th hour sub after Marilee couldn't play. She and Beth have years of experience playing together, and neither of them was thrown by the last-minute change. Becky clearly did not have first-match jitters (as I did), and Beth has won both of her matches. Yay!

I'm also thrilled for Katie, who won her singles match (also in straight sets). Katie is not one to toot her own horn, so if you see her, tell her what an awesome job she did!

Lisa had a tough match at #1 singles — she played great and battled her opponent in the longest of tonight's matches. It was a terrific effort, and the second set was extremely close at 7-5.

Our team had been assigned court 1 and courts 5 through 8. At one point on court 8, a player was down. I couldn't do anything about it, as I was three courts away and in the middle of a match. Still, it was not a good feeling to ignore someone in distress. But I knew Patty saw what happened, and she never flips out about anything — including when Sendik's didn't have our food order ready — so I knew she could take care of the situation. (It turns out that the player was from another team and had started cramping in an epic third set.)

Tonight was something of a strange night, marked by moments of thunder. (Literally. Glad we played inside.) Also, Patrice told me I looked tired. I was! It turns out Gatorade is not a magical elixir.

Thank you to Carol and Colleen, who stayed until the very end. We can't always play spectator-worthy tennis, but knowing someone is rooting for you does make a difference. And this team plays together, parties together, and prays together. Colleen and I don't pray, but she knows what I mean.

Go team!

PS: I should give credit to Doug, who gave us our team name. If you didn't already know, the honey badger is immune to snake bites and bee stings. It overpowers bigger, stronger animals. It can also run backwards (something I'd love to be able to do). See where we're going with this?