Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tennis 2012: Le Club, Week 5

Our team faced stiff competition at Western, resulting in a 1-4 night.

The win: Kim and Kristen at #3 doubles. Because you were on the farthest court, I didn't get to see most of your match. But I was standing right there when Kristen put away the overhead on match point. 6-4, 6-1. Well done! Post match, Kristen stretched while Kim applied Stila lip gloss. Kristen, nice poise as always. And Kim, way to look pretty and kick ass.

Playing indoors, Sandy lost the first set 6-3 and did not feel well, retiring at 1-1 in the second. She had been up 3-0 in the first set — clearly a competitive match. Sandy, we are all rooting for you personally (as well as on the court). So rest up and take good care of yourself.

At #1 doubles, Tash and Rebecca's opponents were tough — especially the lady in yellow — and took the first set 6-2. But Team Tashbecca (Team Retasha?) fought back, losing the second set 7-5. I thought they played admirably and didn't quite understand why Tash was beating herself up over the loss.

I had gone to my car and then over to Court 3, so I missed what happened in the second set. Then I saw Nora's writing in my notebook: "2nd up!! 4-3." So now I get it. Down 5-6 and losing the match on a deuce point, I totally get it: That second set was within reach.

By the way, that is not a judgment. I'm just saying, I know how losing a close one can torment you in a different way than being overmatched.

At #2 doubles, Mary and Rebekah showed their tenacity: In the first set, down 0-3, they won the next two games. In the second set, down 1-4, they also won the next two games. I admire this so much — the spirit behind the scores. 6-2, 6-3 only tells part of the story; you two gave it your all. No one could ever ask for more.

We all wondered what was happening with Jessica, who doesn't like having an audience and was toiling away indoors. When she came off the court, she was frustrated with her 6-1, 6-3 loss. But I will say this: You had to have given your opponent a decent match because it took almost two hours. I know you don't roll over for anyone.

Overall, I had a fantastic time. Really! There I was, watching the team play on a sunny, 80-degree night. Western has great viewing. And I got a chance to hang out with Nora. So even though it was a tough night for the team, I feel grateful to have been there.

So I raise my glass of overpriced chardonnay to you. Cheers!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

On timeouts (mixed doubles)

Yesterday Team Fontimoto played the Kenosha team at Le Club.

Jack, one of our opponents, wanted a shorter warmup because he wasn't feeling well. He did not look well, either, which was disconcerting.

Jim and I had played ping pong and hit some ground strokes, so we didn't mind the abbreviated warmup.

Once we started the match, Jack looked like he was going to pass out; he sat down during every change-over. Jim was willing to let him take as long as he needed.

If only there were a rule on such things.

If only we had known it. I mistakenly thought a player was allowed 10 minutes.

According to the USTA, it's three minutes. You can take one during the warmup and one during the match.

But who keeps a stopwatch with them during a match?

To Jack's credit, he did not seem to take three minutes on a regular basis. Nor did his illness did not stop him from wailing on the ball.

I suggested Jim move back when I served to Jack. Team Jim found this emasculating. "I'm willing to get hit," he said. Still, his ability to compromise trumped his pride, and he humored me. Just so you know, asking him to move back was a reflection of my girly serve, not his skills.

I got frustrated only once (and no, it wasn't when he said I should eat a whole cookie instead of just a half right before the match). But it's okay, because we're getting to a point where he ignores me only occasionally during a match and things usually work out just fine.

We got aced and we got passed, but we stayed in it. We won 6-1, 6-3.

Now we're back to .500.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Tennis 2012: Le Club, Week 4

Yesterday our team took four courts against Mequon! Let me preface this by saying that all of this recap (except the scores) is hearsay; I didn't get to see any of the matches.

At #1 singles, Jessica won 6-3, 6-0. As someone who's been lulled by the moonball rally only to watch her slam a down-the-line shot past me, I know that she controlled the match — probably the entire time.

At #1 doubles, Kim and Kristen also had a resounding win, 6-1, 6-3. Really nice job. You're a terrific team and I wish I had gotten to see you play. You seem to finish your matches quickly; if you dragged them out, I could at least see you. (Joking.)

At #2 doubles, Tash and Rebecca stayed tenacious to take a three setter, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. Unfortunately the only thing I heard about this match was that Tash took a bathroom break. Good to know that we're allowed 90 seconds. As a side note, it is nice to be on the same team again as Rebecca. You're still the same funny, bubbly person that I remember from high school.

At #3, Mary and Rebekah fought hard but lost, 6-1, 7-5. Having played them, this is surprising (Rebekah's pace, Mary's angles). Rebekah, help me out with some details here. This is possibly my worst recap ever, as it is almost entirely speculation.

One court left. Me at #2 singles.

SPOILER ALERT: The rest of this post is all about me.

Starting with my mood: I was so nervous that I could barely eat lunch. But I went to Jose's anyway, figuring it was time to get back to my match-day routine of Mexican food. My co-worker Mike said I'd be fine once I started playing. He's a musician, and he said, "You just have to get through the first song." And my co-worker Jane, who's a marathon runner, reminded me to visualize my match.

Just before the match, I got more pep talks. Carol told me to keep my poker face, Sandy encouraged me to enjoy the match, Trish said I was scrappy. All good things — confidence boosters.

Once the match started, I was happy with the relative isolation of Court 10, far from the viewing area and away from the rest of the team. Not knowing how any of my teammates were doing, I could focus.

My opponent was a hard hitter and really strong in the warmup. I had trouble keeping the rally going. But once we started the match, I felt really good. I got through the first song.

I took the first set, 6-2.

Then she started making fewer errors and hitting more winners, and I lost the second set, 6-2. I was still going for it, but she was out-playing me.

I went to splash cold water on my face ("Tomato face," Mary said).

But Mary and Glenna coached me. Here's what I can remember:

"What's her strongest shot?"
"Forehand down the line."
"What's her weakest shot?"
"I don't know!"
"Moonball her. Slow it down." And, "Backhand, backhand, backhand."

Possibly my favorite piece of advice: "You're not tired." Uh, I was really tired. But I felt good getting back on the court. I was not going to implode while they watched.

(It's just a thing, but I've always wondered if whoever takes the second set is the favored player; momentum is on their side.)

Somehow I stayed with it. I was up 4-1, then 5-2. Then I won the next game.

The most amazing thing happened during the match. Sure, winning was great. But so was feeling like myself on the court again. I think I got a little lost at the beginning of the season, but now I'm back.

So, my dear teammates, if I seem self-involved in this blog post, cut me a little slack. I'll get back to doubles (Team Noonimoto!) and then I'll also have plenty of time to witness your successes. Thanks for all of your support. This was one of the highlights of my tennis experience.


Saturday, June 16, 2012

On losing (mixed doubles)

Last night, Team Fontimoto suffered a loss: a 6-2, 6-1 drubbing against a team we should have at least been competitive with.

Though Jim and I only met at our first match, we played well in our three-set loss against a really experienced Le Club team. And even though we were nervous in our second match, we won decisively. So there was reason to be hopeful (or in Jim's case, insanely confident).

At last night's match at Hart Park, we couldn't blame the sun, the heat, or the wind. I was well hydrated. And Jim had done his burrito-and-pills ritual.

Our opponents had good sportsmanship; there was nothing crazy about them that got in our heads. But between Patrick's arsenal of shots and Deb's consistency, we made lots and lots of mistakes.

We agreed that we sucked. Which is too bad, because we don't suck individually or as a team.

Over on court 2, Gina and Barry lost a nailbiter. Like us, they lost the first set, 6-2. But then they came back to take the second set, and they lost the third set in a tiebreaker. Very, very competitive, and everyone on the court played well. Even brilliantly, at times.

Post-match, Gina identified my problem. (Or at least one of them.) Apparently I've gotten used to winning. Probably because the past year was really charmed: Patrice and I had a great 3.5 (and 4.0) season, and I partnered well with Kim and Kristen at combo.

Here we are, in a new season. New opponents, new partnerships. And more losses than I am comfortable with.

More losses than Jim is comfortable with, too. At the end of the night, we apologized to each other. I hope we never have to apologize again. Onward, as I've said before.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tennis 2012: Le Club, Week 3

After Rebekah's request for a recap, I decided to blog about our team's matches. (Rebekah, I appreciate your enthusiasm, considering that you already know the results.) So here's my lightly editorialized summary of our meeting with the Badger team:

At #1 singles, Jessica lost a tough match, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3. Someone mentioned that your opponent used to be a 4.5. Tough, I'm just saying. You are terrific in those marathon matches (as we all saw last week at Highlander).

Sandy got her first 4.0 win in decisive fashion: 6-0, 6-1. Though you did try to trick us by reversing the color of the scorecards, the entire team was excited once we caught on. We are really proud of you!

At #1 doubles, Tash and Kristen won, 6-4, 7-6. Nice win against a solid team! I was too nervous to watch the tiebreak — not because I doubted you but because I have just been extremely high strung lately. (It could be something about Court 7.)

At #2 doubles, Mary and Rebekah cruised to a 6-1, 6-3 victory. It's good to see the two of you playing together. Mary, I love your all-business style of play. And Rebekah, I'm glad the "little surgery" you gave yourself helped your thumb.

On the third court, our opponents took it 7-6, 1-6, 7-6, but Ann and Nora were so tenacious! This is only my second year being teammates with you, but I've already seen so many triumphant tiebreakers. (One of the greatest was Jane and Nora at State combo playoffs, down 9-8 and coming back to win. I just love that!)

We celebrated our 3-2 team victory with really, really good sandwiches and, of course, booze.

If you want a reminder of Weeks 1 and 2, we went 0-5 against Oconomowoc High School and 4-1 against Highlander. I'll spare you the recaps because, well, that would be so two weeks ago. Instead, I'll look forward to more good times as the team historian.

Cheers, teammates!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

On my nerves (mixed doubles)

After an 0-2 start to the state league season, I was nervous about my mixed doubles match. Jim's "We need to win this week" email was a nice change from his previous "I'm doing this for fun" approach — but I wondered whether I could keep up with his winning attitude. After playing sluggishly at our last practice, I knew I needed to bring my A-game effort, if not my A-game.

Arriving with plenty of time to warm up, I did not feel panicked. Le Club has a ping pong table, so I relaxed and got my hand-eye coordination going. On the warmup court, I noticed that one of my racquets played better than the other. Good to know.

Then it was time to take the court for our match. Off we went to Court 7, where Team Noonimoto lost a tough match on Tuesday.

I opened my tennis bag and immediately forgot which racquet I preferred in the warmup. I'm going to need to work on this, because I have two of the same racquet but bought them four years apart. The old one played better for a while but after getting it restrung for Nationals I'm not sure anymore.

You can see how this could make a person crazy, the forgetting something so basic.

When I told Jim I was feeling nervous, he said, "You won't remember this tomorrow." The prospect of a blackout was reassuring. (Though, when I later asked what he meant, he couldn't explain: "I was nervous too.")

Our opponents were my dentist, who is also a marathon runner, and his partner, an aggressive volleyer. Jim and I disagreed on which of them was playing better. Not the best start.

I double-faulted a couple of times and had to resort to dinking my serve in. Jim played great despite his own nerves. I tried to high-five him once but he blocked me with his racquet: "We don't do that." (I am not a high-fiving, fist-pumping kind of player but I'm working on it. Once or twice per match, okay?)

Somehow we took the first set.

I was still nervous.

More cryptic advice: "It's working." This reminded me of combo playoffs in February, when Kristen said I couldn't be that nervous if I was able to hold serve. Sidebar: It would make sense that I'd be nervous in a playoff match, right? But why in mixed doubles, especially when I managed my nerves in the first match? So many questions.

The good news: Team Fontimoto got our first win (6-2, 6-1) despite my intense anxiety and not-so-intense play. Onward.