So I get to the site and do my warmup.
I show up for the 1230 math on time, as usual. The guy is in the bathroom, or so the female who cheered him on said. She was GF? Wife? Friend? Family member? Not sure. I did not know it then, but this guy was the absolute gamesmanship king. Even before the match he is already delaying.
I get to the court and serve quite a few serves before he finally ambles his way over. I am on court waiting for him to start the warmup, but he is taking his damn sweet time to do everything. After the bathroom delay, he gets to the court, and takes off his right shoe. He puts on an ankle brace and laces back up. He does the same for the other shoe.
“You should have had that shit taken care of before the match,” I think to myself. But I convinced myself that I was going to be calm today. Buddhist monk, Zen Master like patience today. I will not let anger destroy my game or this clown’s gamesmanship.
After some delay, we finally start the warmup. We go at the net, volleys, overheads, serves. He wins the spin and chooses to serve. I go to get a drink of water, but he sits down. He starts unwrapping his grip and re-wrapping another one right before the match!
I facepalm inside. “No, no, Zen Master, Buddhist monk, Bjorn Borg today” I tell myself.
I end up serving some more while he re-gripped, and in my own bit of gamesmanship, switched sides. It all must have worked because I was able to time some good backhand returns and strike some forehands to get the break, 1-0!
“Good, good, good focus,” I tell myself. This guy is taking 5 minutes between every point I’m telling you. Point is over. He takes off his glasses, walks slowly to the towel, wipes his face, his arms, his glasses, puts the glasses back on, then walks slowly to fetch 2 balls, even slower back to serve, then goes through his whole serve routine and it is no joke 1-2 minutes between each point. “This is ridiculous” I tell myself, but again, Bjorn Borg. I stayed calm and got the break.
We switched sides and I served at 1-0. He is again taking tons of time, even on my serve. I missed a lot of 1st serves in that game with his nonsense. No DF, but he did end up breaking me back for 1-1.
“Can’t let his shit affect you” I tell myself.
Then he held to 30 for 2-1. It is clear in the rallies I am the aggressor. He is pushing, pushing his brains out. High moonballs to my backhand. But sometimes an occasional big serve. He is the big serve pusher.
At 1-2, I serve and I am able to make enough first serves and boss the points with the forehand to hold for 2-2. At 1-2, 30-30, there is the first controversy of the match. After a rally, he hits a drop shot. I race it down, get it just before it bounced twice, and win the cat and mouse volley exchange thereafter.
“Did you make it?” he asked, referring to the double bounce.
“Yes” I said. Defiant, confident. I know for a fact that I made that shot. I won the 40-30 point to hold for 2-2. At 2-2, first point, we have a rally, he hits a drop shot, but this one I am unable to run down. 0-15.
“Did you make it?” He calls out, clearly in reference to the previous game, and the most clear sign I have so far of how much if a prick this guy is.
“Jesus, what a prick this guy is” I think to myself. I don’t respond verbally to his shit, but I win the next 3 points. Then he serves at 15-40. I gotta take this shit. These break points are mine.
First one a big 2nd serve right on the back of the serve line, then a first serve out wide at 30-40 on both lines. My meek returns were put away by him on the 3rd shot. Just too good there, I tell myself. Guy hits 2 serves on the line, both lines to save BP, okay that’s too good. Ready for the next one.
He holds for 3-2. Even during the changeover he is using gamesmanship. 90 seconds it the time limit. This guy is changing shirt, changing wristbands, is snorting something in the wristbands, don’t even want to know, sniffling between points, he is the ultimate gamesmanshipman. I thought I took time between points. I thought I bent the rules. But this guy makes me look like a Boy Scout. I just KNOW there is going to be a line dispute in this match. I guarantee you. Seems like every single match I play has some drama and controversy, dodgy line calls, etc.
“Again, don’t worry about all of his antics” I tell myself. “Bjorn Borg, Buddhist monk, Zen Master.”
At 2-3, I served. We have some deuce, I have some GP, he has some BP, but eventually he breaks. Now he has 4-2. Zen Master, Bjorn Borg, I tell myself.
He holds to 30 for 5-2. He is doing all of his shit, and I am trying to cope with it, be quiet about it, but I am just getting played mentally right now. I did not train enough this week. 2-3 hours a day is not enough. I must change my work schedule to train 4-5 hours a day. There were so many shots today where I was there, had the advantage in the rally, but just felt undercooked. I felt as though I needed more practice. I was rusty. There were so many shots where I was just a split second late or a half step out of position and made the error or the short ball. I can’t help but think that my only 2-3 hours a day are to blame for it. Had I trained 4-5 hours a day no way in hell I wouldn’t make that ball, and then do something with it.
At 2-5, I served, and he broke me for 6-2. This Zen Master Bjorn Borg shit ain’t workin’.
Early in the second, he holds for 1-0, I hold for 1-1, he holds for 2-1. Then he breaks me for 3-1. I can’t believe what is happening out here. On the 1-2 ad out point, I served, we had a rally, and I missed a regulation forehand. The ball was a bad bounce on the clay and I could not adjust to it in time. I wasn’t sharp enough there. Could not get it done.
So now he has 6-2, 3-1, and it seems as though he is going to finish the match in short order. No, no, no, no. Right after losing the game to go 1-3 down, I do a little drop and hit with the ball, mimicking the motion needed to make the ball the point before. To get over it. To prove to myself I can make that shot. And I got ready for the next game to return.
But apparently, the drop and hit that I performed ended up nearly hitting him.
“HEY!” He yells out. I continue walking to return serve.
“HEY I’M TALKIN’ TO YOU, BUDDY!” he yelled out to me. “You almost hit me!” he said, about the ball.
“No, I missed” was my response. I tried to restrain myself, though it was becoming increasingly difficult.
“Is it because you double faulted over there?” He mentions a DF I hit in the 1-2 game, when I had an ad in, that I thought was in but he called it out, I went over to argue it with him, but he insists. I am almost sure that serve was in. I get into position to return serve, and again, I kept quiet.
“Can I just ask you? Was it because of that double fault over there? It was out, I’m tellin’ ya.”
Again I am in the return position, saying nothing, ready for play, simply not allowing this piece of shit to throw me off my game.
“You wouldn’t have such a guilty conscience if that ball was really out” I thought to myself. I am literally this close to fucking exploding. Fuck this Zen Master shit. All it did was get me down 2-6, 1-3. Now it is time to get mad. I fucking played a perfect game there and broke his punk ass to love!
“YES! COME ON! STAY IN THIS SHIT” I bellow. Zen Master is gone, and I’m glad as I changed over. Don’t be something you are not. If you are not Bjorn Borg, stop trying to be. You are a player that thrives on energy, that thrives on the battle. You were entirely too laissez-faire in the first 2-6, 1-3. In that game you played angry for the break, I coach myself in my head. Be who you are.
I switch sides for the return game but this time he is taking SOOOOOO fucking long to get up and get on with it, I just had to say something.
“Yo, come on man, you’re taking 5 fucking minutes for every changeover!” I yelled.
“FUCK YOU!!!!!!!!!” He said, giving me an angry middle finger in the process.
“You are such a fucking punk ass bitch” I said to him. “With all your shit.”
“Oh, yeah, and you’re little half volley backhand ha!” was his retort. The fuck is this, middle school? And my backhand is great, fuck him.
The next game, I served at 2-3. First point, long rally won by me after forcing the error when I timed a half volley backhand on the rise. 15-0.
“vaMOS!” I yell to myself.
Next point, another long rally, I win the point.
“vaMOS!” I again yell to myself. I hold to 15 in that game.
Now he serves at 3-3. This game was so crucial, I had I think 2-3 break points, but every single time he came up with a clutch first serve and I was unable to take the advantage. He holds after what feels like 5-6-7 or so deuces.
I serve at 3-4. I really needed to hold in that game. Every single call is close. Well, every one of my shots are called close. I question a call, but after an investigation, I see it is out. Back to deuce. A few more ad ins and outs, and he calls another ball out. I think I hit the line to hold for 4-4, but he calls it wide. I go over to investigate, and I am unsatisfied.
“I don’t see a mark” I say. That means it is on the line.
“That means it’s on the line,” I say.
“No, no, it is back here,” he says, pointing to a mark much deeper in the court.
“No way man, are you serious? It is right here,” I indicate a mark much shorter angle, where I aimed on purpose, right on the line.
“Are you kidding me?” he says. “The mark is right here! I’m telling you! I’m not trying to screw you over!”
The last person who told me they weren’t trying to screw me over was a cop when I was 21 and he he did was screw me over. No way every single one of these calls are out, and there is no way he has such a guilty conscience over these kinds of things. I reluctantly accept it. Deuce again.
I miss the 1st serve. 2nd serve, I hit right on the back of the line, it skids on the clay, into his backhand returns, and he shanks the return. Vamos, Ad in, now time to hold. Great 2nd serve, I tell myself.
“It’s out,” he says.
“Oh my God, this is a joke now!” I say, jogging to the net in disbelief at what this guy is cooking up.
“There it is, right there,” I say, pointing to a mark right where I hit it, where it skidded off the line low and caused his BH return to shank and not make the court.
“No, no, it is this one,” he points to a mark, long, that would have made him play a forehand.
“There is no way in hell that’s the mark, dude. It went into your backhand! You missed the shot, the evidence is right there!” I say, gesturing towards the mark I circle. This is becoming a circus now.
“You wanna get the referee? Go get the referee,” he challenged.
My biggest mistake was right there. I should have just said. “Ad in, my serve” and went to serve into the ad court. And if he refused to play, just serve a ball with him not there, and hit the balls over to him for 4-4. That is what I must do next time. Make HIM go to get the referee. Who by the way is a 70something guy who is always at these tournament and is a hater of me and always tries to screw me over. Whether it comes to scheduling, line disputes, whether or not to play a full third set or a 10 point TB (the last one especially), I have had run-ins with this referee before.
But I didn’t. I walked over the tournament desk.
“Francis, this guy is cheating me on every line call, do you know where the referee is at?” I say as I get to the desk. Francis runs all these events. He gets on the walkie-talkie.
“Hey what court are you on?” He says to the referee.
“Court 6” he radios back.
“What court are you on?” he asks me.
“Court 23,” I say. Jesus. That’s all the way on the other side of the complex, I think. It will take him ages to get there. Francis is thinking the same and calls the kids sweeping the courts in the golf cart to give him a ride to court 23! Remember when I said this whole thing was a circus? Well it may be, but it is one that I intend to win.
So I get back to court 23, finally after some time, the referee comes over. I explain to him the situation.
“I’m serving 3-4, Deuce, 2nd serve, I hit a 2nd serve right on the line, it skids, his backhand return shanked out of play,” I explain to him.
“The ball is right here,” the other guy says to the ref.
“He stepped on it,” he said. When I went over to that side and circled the mark where I had hit the ball, he replied that I had stepped on the real mark, which in reality was a mark from before. There is no depths that this guy won’t stoop to.
“Yeah I stepped on your bullshit mark when I pointed out the real mark,” I reply.
“Wait a minute, you stepped on it? That means its good,” the referee replied.
“That wasn’t even the mark! He hit it with his backhand! That ball would have him hit with his forehand!” I can’t believe this guy is going to get away with ANOTHER line call. Unbelievable.
I go back, reluctant to argue any further. I cannot win vs. those two. I fucking knew that referee would find some little shit to screw me over. He’s always had it out for me. Well fuck them both.
At 3-4, Ad out now, 15 minutes or so since last point played, I save virtual MP with quality 2nd serve and forehand attack. Few more deuce, but unfortunately, eventually, he breaks me. Just a step slow, a split second out of position here and there at that was it.
He served at 5-3, held to 30. GSM Bugge def. Morgan, 6-2, 6-3 in 2h35. We started 1230, ended 305. So 2h35 for a 6-2, 6-3, you can tell how much time wasting he was doing.
I shook his hand, wished him luck through gritted teeth, and went to recover for the consolation match.
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