Grateful for winter competition

I hear the ball off my opponents racket, but see nothing against the trees and the bright light of the sun bouncing off the damp court until the ball bounces beside me. 

Weds 16th  

Lesson – concentrated on movement and hitting through the ball without rotating my shoulders. 

Gym – I already feeling the benefits of the gym work as the arm is less sore and the backhand seems to be firmer against the incoming ball.

Today, while I liked the idea of the gym following tennis, I was a reluctant rider on the bike. I wavered and did not feel ready for the effort of the static bike. Eventually I entering 30 mins, like I was punishing myself for feeling a weakness. Ten or fifteen minutes would have done for a warm up.

The first few minutes were really a grind. Considered getting off on several occasions, somehow kept those pedals turning. Perversely I then decided to do 3 minute bursts of effort as opposed to the usual 2 minutes. Not sure why. These were hard efforts. Managed to hold out for three efforts of three minutes each. Finished with what by then was a relatively easy 2 minute burst. Heart rate does not get as high as when I go running, but I feel the effort in my legs. It is my legs rather than my lungs I feel limiting my bike efforts at the moment. Quite enjoying myself as the thirty minutes approached, pleased to slay the unforgiving monster once again.

More into the swing of the weights now. Good session. Pushed right knee to straighten and really squeezed the quads as per physio advice. It complained a little. 

Just before bed, the draw for the weekend men’s grade 4 event popped into my inbox. Impossible not to take a sneak preview. Unbelievably I have been drawn against the same player as on three of my previous 4 visits to these one day events. The score is 0-3 against as you would expect against one of the top county juniors. Initial thoughts are a bit deflated, no one likes to go to an event on a certain loss.  

Then my mind says why should I go as if it is a certain loss. Why not prepare to play my best and take whatever result comes along. Try and play the match as I have been trying to play on the practice court. It’s a compass draw so there will be four matches to play anyway. Reset, bring it on. 

Sat 19 

Yes, managed a year’s best at the parkrun 5k today by a further 11 seconds. Not as much as I wanted, however a year’s best is not to be sniffed at. Perhaps more than the time was how strong I felt throughout the run. Coming on the back of the work this week I should be pretty pleased with myself. I am and I am not. Always wanting that bit more and probably would have got it if I had been fresh as my hamstrings started to complain a bit over the last five minutes or so. 

Sun 20 

Men’s Fast Four tournament Boscawen Park, Truro. The weather forecast is showers and a fairly stiff breeze. Early morning – just waiting for the referee to signal whether the matches are on or not. My main fear in these conditions is a damp court surface and slipping over. On the positive side I no longer have to battle in the rain trying to see the ball through my glasses, as the new contact lenses are superb. 

Today’s main objective. Try to execute in matches what I have been doing in practice. Sounds easy when written down; harder in reality. To remind myself then that the objective is to prepare early and move well and then play the percentage shot. Looking forward to today’s challenge, whatever the weather. 

Off to  poor start in leaving home later than intended, meaning limited practice court time. Why is that? Have a swift internal argument with myself, then forget about it. Just another example of my home behaviours being different to my on the road behaviours. 

Four fast four matches in compass draw style today. We begin in nice autumn sunshine. Smile, this is nice. Not for long, the sunshine disappears and we are drenched by a heavy shower. By the time we gather our bags and the balls and shelter at the side of the building, the rain has stopped so we go back on. There are a couple of lighter further showers, which we play through. The initial getting wet is unpleasant, but once wet, well what the hell. What a shame as the weather yesterday would have been perfect! How many times have we all said that. 

No one knows why the changing pavilion and café which will stand alongside the courts is not yet completed. I am told it is months overdue and I myself had expected it to be completed as I have not been to Boscawen Park for at least six months. As a result we get to stand in the rain, sheltered only by the wall from the worst of the weather. It looks as though it will be a fine building when completed; for now it draws negative comments against the reputation of the City Council. 

Meanwhile the conditions on court become much more difficult. The rain recedes and the sun comes out, it is at this point that you realise that the courts are facing the wrong way. The sun shining straight down the courts and turning the damp surface into a mirror from one end. It’s like looking into a bright white light, with everything silouetted, including the bare tree branches. You could not design more difficult conditions in which to see the ball. It’s a real strain to see the ball. On one occasion I hear the ball off my opponents racket, but see nothing against the trees and the bright light of the sun bouncing off the court, until the ball bounces beside me. The joys of winter tennis.

There is further farce when on one occasion I move in the opposite direction to the ball. I go left the ball goes right. I see some smiles from those watching. Nothing else to do but join them.

Mainly I am squinting into the sun and just having to shovel the ball back as best I can as it is impossible to see the ball early. Playing in this monochrome world with cap pulled down tightly I am finding challenging and a little frustrating. In contrast with the sun on my back the courts are a vibrant red and green. Some players are having less difficulty with the conditions, maybe older eyes are less adaptable? The better players here are coping with the conditions so much better than I am. 

 I am also being a bit cautious, movement wise as there is a green bloom on some of the courts. The last thing I need right now is to slip over. But hey, despite the best efforts of the conditions and incomplete changing facilities, players are just getting on with it. All in all, a chance in November for some local competition is a bonus, which we are all doing our best to enjoy.  

Recapping, today’s objective was to prepare early, move well and play the percentage shot. How did I do? Reasonable execution all round in the first match after which it became more difficult due to the sun. Tried my best in difficult conditions.  

The scores were as follows; 

Lost   0-4, 0-4 

Won 4-2, 4-0 

Lost   4-1, 2-4, 0-1(6) 

Lost   1-4, 4-2, 0-1(4) 

In truth I am disappointed to lose the last two matches. However, given the difficulty I had with the conditions, it is what it is. Better this than no competition at all.  

Chocolate bar for effort on the short drive home. Hot shower awaits.

Monday 21st

My right arm is complaining from hitting wet and heavy tennis balls, and it is painful to straighten, hopefully just a temporary thing. My eyes still feel sore from all that squinting into the sun. Racket strings are like spaghetti.

Tennis rebranded – the game for all ages and all conditions!

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