It’s called the US Open, not that US Open, but our version of the US Open……well not “ours”, but locally, the VTC US Open doubles. We get lucky though because despite my email to the director bemoaning the lack of players………..and my email to the director, I figure, is for naught……..the director emails me back and we have some matches to consider. Sweet!
Mike (the director), a total class act, always on top of the details, a true professional……lets me know we have a we have a draw. It’ll be classified as Mens NTRP 4.5 doubles……and so it goes, Alex and I get to play doubles together yet again. We just need more match play, to tune our teamwork, to play, under pressure, against players we normally don’t play against.
Now in these little draws, one never knows what we get, but to my delight is a player I lost to in singles a few weeks back, his partner who I have no idea who he is, and then of course, my partner, son Alex. Better yet, a close tennis friend of mine, called Henry, and his partner too. So despite a small draw, I get the potential for some tennis revenge……and some club bragging rights I suppose, with Henry, as Henry and I have locked horns many times in practice matches at our club, but never directly in a tournament.
First up, my revenge match against “K” and his partner……and while Alex and I, in my humble opinion, are better tennis players, they are simply a better team…..Alex has been out for 5 days with the flu/crud, and he’s just off. I’m in OK hitting mode, but OK is not ideal, and K and his partner are hanging tough…….we launch out to a 4-1 lead in the first set, but eventually find ourselves in a first set tie breaker, which we win……second set, same 4-1 lead, but they reel us in sort of to 4-3, but we close out the last two games, and the match……….it’s not a win to talk about from a tennis standpoint, we simply ground our way to victory…….my hat is off to our opponents for playing sound tennis, and making us work……but if Alex is crisp, and I’m reasonably sound, we should have won much easier. Good lesson here though for Alex, we can win even if we don’t play great and he knows that despite not feeling 100%, he can win if he puts in the right mental and physical efforts.
Now lets get to Henry and his partner…….it’s 4-4, in the first set, but I can feel they are over their limit, and we are slowly getting our timing in place……..before you know it, we real off 8 of the next 9 games, and the match is over. Alex finding his range, working thru some rust and cold/flu symptoms, and me……actually returning serve and serving decently for a change. It’s a solid victory, and in the small draw format, we are the tournament victors.
But what is really important here isn’t the tournament, or Alex, and definitely not me. It’s Henry. He is an engaging tennis player, a true tennis guru if there is ever a sense of the word. He has tutored more people than I can shake a stick at, tutored me, played me when I was on my way up, willing to play me now, or anyone for that matter, and just is the ultimate competitor all the way around. Right before our match started ….. says something to the effect……no chit chat, it’s time to compete…….and I honor that, because Henry is there to play hard, and I will bring it too.
The world is full of stories of coaches who coached this great tennis player, Roger Federer this, Steffi Graff that, Martina this, or Pete that……..pick your great tennis pro……..somebody is clearly behind them for sure……..but take a good club player, and ask them who inspired them, helped them, molded them, and I’d say those are really the greatest coaches/mentors of all……..ask me, and Henry is the first one out of my mouth…..and the next time we play, I’m going to try to beat him yet again…………