Sunday, June 24, 2018 (Court Day #162)
My wife was leaving this morning for a week along with my daughter Charlotte. It’s the annual Sail Camp and both are instructing. It took a bit longer to get out of the house and I didn’t arrive at the courts until just about 9 a.m. As I walked closer, I could see some of the nets were already set up. Dave Allenbaugh? Nope. Stuart.
“I thought I was supposed to set up today.”
“I had an email that just said ‘tomorrow’ and so I wasn’t sure the day.”
I thanked him as I had been late.
I played a bunch of games, including some with and against Grita whom I hadn’t seen for at least a month.
As the morning wore on, I saw Eric had signed up in red. I surveyed all the players. I could go toe-to-toe with any of them and make them work. I wrote my name down in an empty box in red. Melody asked if she could join my game and I said sure. Grita and Eric filled out the four. Grita and I pulled out ahead, they came back as Mel tightened up her game, and then Grita and I finally closed out the game with a hard-earned win. A fun one.
Eric and I played a game against Jane and Rob. We won fairly handily. Then we had a rematch and won again. Not a fluke. In one of the games, Eric was serving left to right to Jane and successfully clipped the front outside corner of the service court—it was an ace. Later, I was serving right to left to Jane and successfully clipped the front outside corner of the service court—it was an ace. “Was that hit by Eric?”, she kidded. “By my alter ego Eric,” explained Eric, laughing. As we walked off, Jane asked Eric about he and I playing together. He told her we’d be playing a tournament in a few weeks. “You two should do well.”
Wrapping up the day, Rob and I played two games against Brennan and Jeff. They were hotly contested challenging games. Rob and I won the first and they won the second, 12-10. I was dead on my feet.
One of the issues that I need to continue to work on—particularly when I am tired and am less inclined to move—is tracking better. There was a shot where Rob (R) hit to Jeff (J) and Jeff hit it right between Rob and me (A) for a winner. It was my fault. I can’t imagine any exception to the rule: if the ball is passed down the middle, it’s the fault of the player on the half of the court away from the ball. It’s that player’s responsibility to close up the gap. Sure, the player on the same half as the ball might overprotect for a sideline passing shot, but even then, his/her partner needs to close the gap down the middle.
In my defense, in an early game on the day of John P. and me against Leslie and Stuart, Stuart made a great crosscourt shot from the net which pulled John completely off the court to the left. John managed to hit the ball back to Leslie who hit straight ahead into the gap between John and me. Only there wasn’t a gap anymore. I had moved past the centerline into John’s half of the court to cover. Instead, I was there and hit the ball back between Leslie and Stuart for a winner. (Stuart has a bum knee which contributed significantly to John and my win.) This was the same coverage that I had done back at my first tournament where John had been pulled off to the right and I moved well into his side along the kitchen line to cover until he got back. The trick is being aware and applying that consistently when it’s not as obvious and when you are tired!
After our game, we stowed the net and I checked the time. Woah. 1:42! Almost 5 hours since I arrived to the courts.
The Blacks were still playing a game against Oleg and Dave W. (They had all arrived later in the morning.) I don’t know the final score, but Oleg and Dave won since the point they won finished off the game. Once they were through, I stowed the last net, locked up the bins and we were off.
Rob and I chatted for a bit at our cars about skill levels, challenging games, and our tournament coming up at the end of July. He said he is taking July 28 (the day before) off so he is guaranteed a good night’s sleep—instead of possibly responding to firefighter calls!
I was happy with my play today. I made my mistakes, but from a bird’s eye view, I played well. I got an assortment of compliments from various opponents for good shots. That helps balance the shots where I felt dumb. Like hitting “out balls”, dropping a handful of shots into the net or blowing three shots in a row, like in our first game against Brennan and Jeff. But still, doing good, making progress.
I’m not sure why I wear out my left shoe faster than my right shoe, but it’s consistent. On the left is my first set of dedicated pickleball court shoes from last year. On the right is the newer pair which are headed to retirement soon. I also have a new pair—not shown—which I’ve only worn at two tournaments, those will become my everyday pickleball shoes before too long.
Number of days on a court: 162
Number of total hours: 445.5
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