If for nothing other than the historical record...
Just this past weekend, I played a Men's Open in North Miami Beach.
In the opening round, I played Marc Yurgenson.
After my double bagel loss to Wojcek in Fort Lauderdale 2 weeks ago, I focused almost entirely on back strengthening and serve practice. I went into the match just hoping to serve well, maybe hold serve. Well, I got much more than I thought I would.
First set, I was nervous as hell, literally shaking as I took notes into my phone. But I was getting into rallies, I was winning points. I was serving ok, meaning he could not unleash so easily on serve and groundstrokes, giving me an extra second to get into position, which made all the difference. After being down 0-3, I finally held serve to go to 1-3, and let out a good positive yell. The next game I had love 40, but he pulled it back. Then my serve let my down, got broken again, so now 1-5. Next game, I had 0-30, but again couldn't get it done.
Vs. Marc Yurgenson, 1-6, 4-6, North Miami Beach Men’s Open, 10/5/13
He holds to 30, I’m missing by inches, 0-1
He breaks after 2 deuces, double faults, higher toss, take 2nd returns on rise, 0-2
He holds to 15, I am so nervous, my hands were shaking as I took down the notes, 0-3
I hold to 30, 1-3
He holds after one deuce, I had love 40!, 1-4
He breaks to 30, two more DF from me, fuck, 1-5
He holds to 30, again I had love 30 this time, 1-6
1st set stats:
Points won on serve: Me- 10 (45.5%), Him- 17 (68%)
Points won on return: Me- 8 (32%), Him- 12 (54.5%)
Total points: Me- 18 (38.3%), Him- 29 (61.7%)
Games won on serve: Me- 1 (33.3%), Him- 4 (100%)
Games won on return: Me- 0 (0%), Him- 2 (66.7%)
Total games: Me- 1 (14.3%), Him- 6 (85.7%)
2nd set, I began to relax a bit. I knew that I was on par with this guy and I could compete. I held to love to start off the set, very positive. At 1-1, once again I had a lead in a game, serving 30-0, but ended up DF away the break. This already the third game where I had at least 30-0 and lost
Luckily, I was able to fight back and get the break back for 2-2. At 2-2, deuce, I was serving. But the courts were literally meters away from a train track. Of course, as I am about to serve at 2 all deuce, the train rolls by, loud as hell, so I stop for about 5 minutes for the entire train to go. What happens next? DF!
I end up losing the game, and he holds for 4-2. My next service game was another battle, 3 more deuces, and 3 more DF, including on BP
But now is when I started to make a move. I broke him to 30 in the next game to stay alive. "I'm not fucking ready to shake hands yet" was my mindset here. I held serve to make it 5-4, and he was cursing at himself at this point, in whatever language he was speaking, I dunno, maybe Polish? Something Eastern European would be my guess. As he served for the match at 5-4, I had 15-40, a real chance. My antennas were up, my face looked like a rabid dog, as I was trying desperately to get the break. My face was something like this:
I had a shot at 15-40, I hit a return that I thought hit the line and he shanked it 3 courts over, but he called it out, and after a quick glance to the USTA referee there who confirmed the call, I got on with it. Eventually we went back and forth, I saved a few match points, he was grunting like a wounded animal while I was doing the karate style quick exhale, but it wasn't enough. He eventually held, and won the match 6-1, 6-4.
I hold to love, 1-0
He holds to 30, 1-1
He breaks me after one deuce, I had 30 love, again, 2 doubles, 1-2
I break to 15, 2-2
He breaks to 30, another DF or 2 from me, too many, man, 2-3
He holds to 15, 2-4
He breaks after 3 deuces, way too many DF, 2-5
I break to 30, 3-5
I hold to 30, 4-5
He holds after three deuces from 15-40, 4-6
2nd set stats:
Points won on serve: Me- 18 (50%), Him- 18 (53%)
Points won on return: Me- 16 (47%), Him- 18 (50%)
Total points: Me- 34 (48.6%), Him- 36 (51.4%)
Games won on serve: Me- 2 (40%), Him- 3 (60%)
Games won on return: Me- 2 (40%), Him- 3 (60%)
Total games: Me- 4 (40%), Him- 6 (60%)
Points won on serve: Me- 28 (48.3%), Him- 35 (59.3%)
Points won on return: Me- 24 (40.7%), Him- 30 (51.7%)
Total points: Me- 52 (44.4%), Him- 65 (55.6%)
Games won on serve: Me- 3 (37.5%), Him- 7 (77.8%%)
Games won on return: Me- 2 (22.2%), Him- 5 (62.5%)
Total games: Me- 5 (29.4%), Him- 12 (70.6%)
Analysis: Well, better. I focused almost entirely on back and serve the last two weeks since the Wojcek loss, and it has absolutely paid dividends. Being on hard court also helped my movement. However any strides I made, and I did, I have still got much work to do. Back must get stronger, toss must be consistently higher, serve must be closer to the lines, I must lose lots of weight, I must get into the gym more and get stronger, I must add a little bit of weight to the racquet once I am strong enough. Overall, very very positive result. Today I learned that I deserve to be on the court against such players. Serve, specially 2nd serve, really let me down today, I absolutely could have pulled even and won that 2nd set, and surely the 3rd if I had taken the 2nd. But then I’d absolutely be late for work, maybe would not have job? I don’t know, bro. Order of importance:
1. Back strength
3. Serve must be faster/closer to lines/not making DF
4. Stepping in on those 2nd serve returns
5. Lose fat
6. Gain muscle
7. Add weight to racquet once you get stronger
It is a very strange thing, really. When we finished the match, I looked and it was 1:15 PM. I had work at 6, and really needed to leave North Miami by about 4:30 to really have time to go home, shower, and change. Had I won the match, I would have played at 3, and I'm not sure if I'd have enough time to get back for work. As it was, I was in the consolation, and, knowing my situation, I lobbied to get the consolation match going immediately. Which was dumb. I had no time to eat, stretch, drink, re-hydrate, and I ended up losing badly, 6-0 6-0 in the consolation, but that one was very easy to brush off. In the consolation match I considered to retire at 0-5 in the first as I had nothing left, but I have never retired ever in a match and wouldn't start here. I took my beating, and went to work a few hours later.
Overall, onwards and upwards, it was very positive how well I played, particularly in that 2nd set vs. Yurgenson. I learned today that I don't need to do anything special to play on this level. I was hitting balls with 3/4 speed, not even, and staying in rallies. I have to improve, sure, but that 2nd set was the first time I truly felt I belonged on the court in a Men's Open. I know it is the tiniest blip of a blip on the radar, but maybe historians will look back years from now and say this was where I truly began. Also, I have a feeling that eventually, possibly sooner rather than later, this job and tennis won't be compatible together, it arguably already isn't. But I need the money, and will continue to try to do it all.