Wednesday, January 31, 2018 (Court Day #119)
Speaking of bugs (the title of my last blog entry), I caught one. I started coming down with a mild sore throat on Saturday late afternoon and it bloomed into a full-on one in the middle of the night. (Was that why my game was off the last time out?) By Tuesday, the sore throat had partially recovered to a mild one but I was still dealing with having to clear my throat a lot and my voice was husky.
As for my ankle, it’s 3 weeks as of today and it’s still sore when I do certain motions with it. I hurt it pushing myself up and out of bed a few days ago, so it’s simple things, not necessarily pickleball, that is possibly hindering recovery. It is improving, but it’s slow going.
I arrived at Derby Park at about 9:15 a.m. (I know, slow moving, but hey, I’m recovering!) I put on my ankle brace and was the odd fifth man out. A relative newcomer, Jennie, showed up and we dinked and otherwise warmed up. Soon we were in our first game.
I spent most of the morning in and around games where I was either the best player on the court or one of the two best players. In some cases, I was obviously on a whole ‘nother level from those I was playing with.
Eric arrived fairly early. We played a game mid-morning against Allan and Jeanne and went down 3-0. I was thinking, “This is not good. If we’re going into a tournament and this is how we’re performing, it’ll be bad!” But things turned around and we won 11-4. Whew.
Eric and I challenged Kevin and Kent. We put up a battle, but still lost by roughly a 2:1 ratio. Still, I was super happy to be able to go up against an unquestionably superior team. Since it wasn’t a cakewalk for them and they had to earn the win, our opponents enjoyed the game as well.
We played against Dave and Ted. We won 11-1. If I hadn’t blown a relatively easy shot, we would have shut them out. Dave and Ted wanted to play again, but I noticed Kent and Kevin across the courts in the waiting area. There were only three nets left up by then. I told Eric and he agreed that we should try to get in another hard game. Kent wasn’t keen at first, but he agreed after Kevin agreed to play. Dave and Ted were understanding.
As the other games finished, the bench filled up to watch the relative newbies (us) take on the experienced hands. Eric and I have been playing about a year—my one year anniversary was two days ago and Eric has a couple months head start on me—and Kent and Kevin have years of experience and have both played in tournaments. Kevin at the 4.0 level and Kent at least 3.5.
Eric and I took a 2-0 lead, but it wouldn’t last. It was 3-2, in their favor, not long after. This one was a back and forth match up. Each side battling for each point. There were some fantastic rallies at the net with furious attacks back and forth. It was neck and neck. Eric and stayed in this game. When I noticed it, it was fun hearing the cheers and “ahhhhh”s from the half dozen people watching intently.
Kevin can deliver a fast and low serve that can be returned into the net if you aren’t careful. I intentionally bent my knees a bit more and lowered my paddle from in front of my abdomen to closer to my knees. It seemed to help for me. I realized shortly after that this was a tactic that I should share with partner, so I told Eric what I was doing.
We even took the lead 8-7. They got a couple of points though, leading 9-8. Then 10-8. Eric and I scored a point. 10-9. Could we pull off an major upset? Not this time. They won 11-9. Play wrapped up about a quarter after 12.
During the game, Kent made repeated comments about us having “fast hands”. Afterward, Kent said, “You guys are playing really well. We had to keep on the top of our game. What level did you sign up for?” I told him we’d be playing in 3.0 in the tournament in Livermore. “Some people will be mad at you. I think you’ll do very well. You’ll get bumped up.” We definitely don’t want people mad at us for sandbagging instead of signing up for a harder skill level. This is our first real tournament and we don’t know where we fit. Beth Black and the Longs said for us to start at 3.0.
A few minutes later, outside the courts, Kent mentioned that Paso Robles is a venue with tough competition, so we might end up right in the mix at 3.0 there. So many unknowns! I told Kent that I’d received an email notice that Paso Robles was full and they are only taking players for their waiting list, so changing grades from 3.0 to 3.5 might be impossible even if we decided to do that.
During that last game, Eric said, “Nice left hand switch.” I didn’t even realized I’d done it. Switching the paddle to my left hand for sharp angled shots at the net is apparently becoming so automatic, I don’t even think about it. That’s good. I forgot to mention previously that at Brommer, I’d tried to hit an overhead with my left hand and it went wild. What was dumb about that is Eric was to my left. I should have just let it go and had him get it. Trust your partner!
Number of days on a court: 119
Number of total hours: 339.5
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