INTENSITY “Always Be Closing” at Kings Hwy. “Shake and Serve”.
Today our “Always Be Closing” team rose to the challenge of playing against the team that holds the number one spot in our flight. Kings Hwy. “Shake and Serve” was ready for their typical smack-down match. But we surprised them. After all the courts were quiet and the ladies had started their way back home, the “Shake and Serve” captain (Deanne Coad) admitted that we were, in fact, the toughest team that they had played against this season.
This was, indeed, a good match on all courts. Amazing points, tight games and scores don’t get much closer. Here is how is played out:
D1: Randa / Caroline
The “Shake and Serve” team had just finished their team practice. They were warm and ready to play. With no pre-match open courts, our team was no where near as fired up. Randa and Caroline won the toss and chose to let Deanne and Michaela serve so that they would have a little warm up game. This ended up working against them because Randa and Caroline both had a hard time returning their tricky and very different serves (Deanne was hard and fast, Michaela was slower and required a completely different return). Many points were lost in the first set by the lack of service return. So the first set flew by quickly and Randa and Caroline were only able to squeak out one game win. But the feeling of panic subsided as they re-grouped and took notice of their opponents weaknesses…. hit at Michaela’s feet and Deanne’s backhand. Randa and Caroline were finally warmed up. But Caroline’s serve was off and they decided to have Randa serve first for the second set. All of the sudden, Deanne and Michaela were the one’s feeling panicked. The games were tight and it became clear that a 3rd set tie-break would be in their future. With a 7-5 second set win, Randa and Caroline were not giving up. The tie-break was close too, but did not go our way. Deanne and Michaela closed out the match with a 10-7 tie-break score. So, after a well fought battle our D1 court held their head high with a loss of 6-1, 5-7, 1-0.
D2: Eva / Dana
Eva was playing deuce and Dana on Ad. Although these positions worked great for them at practice on Monday, it was not working now. They made an unusually high number of unforced errors and the balls they were receiving were short, sloppy and lacked pace. This was a difficult thing to adjust to. That combined with Shelby’s tricky short angled shots made for a VERY quick set with no games won by Eva and Dana. They kept their mental toughness in check and changed their positions for the second set. They quickly took a 2-0 lead mixing up their serves with Eva’s softer short but spinning serve and Dana’s harder flat serve and utilizing some lob skill to move Shelby and Julia around. Up a break, then losing a break, they ended up at 5-5. Eva and Dana were fired up by a few direct shots at Dana (not her feet). Dana traded the direct shots but gave the courtesy of a “watch out”, aim at the feet and gratuitous “sorry”. This gave them the fuel they needed to take the second set at 7-5.
Just remember…. IT AIN’T OVER ‘TILL IT’S OVER.
After the first set bagel and the second set battle, they entered the third set tie-break with confidence. From that point forward, they were “always closing” and won the tie-break 10-7. Final win score 0-6, 7-5, 1-0.
D3: Lorraine / Anna
Lorraine and Anna have good court chemistry. They move well together and both have fast pace and sharp angle games from the baseline. But their opponents were both solid net players and moved up to take advantage of that position, accurately aiming at the hot seat players’ feet. The games were long and competitive and the sets stayed neck and neck. After losing the first set at a tight 7-5, Lorraine and Anna gave their opponents a challenging second set and at 6-6 the set went into tie-break. The net game beat baseline power. Lorraine and Anna had a strong and respectable match. It really could have gone either way. The set tie-break decided the loss for our D3 court at 7-5, 7-6.
Katie figured me out fast. I am so obviously a “serve and volley”, and “return, approach, volley” player. And Katie is a really good lobber. She took the initial lead in the first set. I was stuck back and I knew that I was not hitting through my baseline shots and I was pushing back her slower paced balls. I was so scared of over-hitting. But I knew I had to adjust. I focused on top-spin and came back to a 4-4 score. Feeling more comfortable, I went back to my net game. This became comical, as I moved up on every short ball and she lobbed me again. We were both laughing in middle of the points as we both knew exactly what we were doing to each other. She won the next two games to take the set at 6-4. I stuck to my guns and stayed aggressive to start the second set with a 3-0 lead. But she was able to return most of my approach shots with her great court coverage. I started retreating back after every short ball, immediately recognizing the eminent lob. The points become long and drawn out. Katie came back to an on-serve game score and we traded games from that point forward. We rallied to a 6-6 score and I double faulted the beginning of the set tie-break. This set the tone for my 7-5 tie-break loss. She took both sets and I lost the court 6-4, 7-6.
So, at the end of the match, we lost 3-1. But each court played a respectable match and I am proud of every player. Everyone on the “Shake and Serve” team
commented on the difficulty of their matches and they were happy to have finally been challenged. We were their toughest opponents.
Thanks those who played and for maintaining our reputation as a strong and friendly team that provides challenging and fun matches to all opponents!