I have an update 4 (FOUR!!!) years in the making.
OK, I have one tennis partner. I've written about him in the past -- 6'3", 215 lbs (same as my 5'9" fat ass), lefty, 13 years my junior, high school tennis team, and 4.0. We've been playing each spring/summer the past 4 years. We've definitely had some tight sets over that time, a couple of TBers, a few more 7-5 sets, all of which I had ultimately squandered MPs.
Lately, not so interesting, and for 2 hours yesterday, the story line was the same: 0-6, 0-6, 1-6, 0-6, 2-6.
The wind was absolutely howling, which meant his serve with the wind at his back was simply overpowering. The other direction was not much easier, because he's not great serving into the wind, so his serve was getting knocked down and I was reaching for the ball usually taking it about a foot off the ground. On a normal day, his serve kicks so high that I have to return like Rafa; I literally check to make certain my backswing doesn't hit the fence otherwise I'm trying to strike a ball with an extreme Western grip from my earhole. Needless to say, with that much wind in his face, his inclination to back off on his serve when serving into the wind and my preference to stand a racquet's length in front of the fence, I have to move into no man's land returning, thus taking everything off my shoe tops.
Well, it all changed in the 6th set!
I made 2 adjustments:
1. midway threw the 5th set, I realized I was returning better if I closed my return stance. Rather than starting my ROS standing with both feet parallel to the baseline, I stood with my left foot forward and favored my FH. My FH return isn't better, possibly worse under normal conditions, but yesterday, that was the way to go. I've never done that before. By the end of the set I clocked 2 returns and put him on notice: "I'm in it now!"
2. For 5 sets (and all 2013), I've been serving from the alley and slicing him off the court from the deuce side and S&Ving if he gets it back. In the 6th set, I said, "Eff it! I'm playing him straight up for the 1st time this year!" and took a normal position. It brought 2 serves back in play: my kicker and my fastball.
So I get off to a great start and hold my first 2 service games, then at 2-2 I break his serve. Hold again! 4-2. He holds then breaks back. "OK, 4-4. Still in it." I hold again. I could see my American twist serve was giving him fits. He just wasn't able to judge it as it kept jumping back into his chest. Probably a function of the wind, but whatever, it was nasty. He went from being stretched wide reaching for a ball running away from him for 5 sets to seeing a ball jump back into his chest.
Bab holds! 5-4. "Been here before," I'm thinking, "I just relax too much trying not to get too excited, and in the end, he just keeps the ball in play and let's me beat myself...OK, shut up. Don't relax this time and stay out of those rallies."
He's serving with the wind at his back. Per usual, he decelerates and gives me good looks. I clock a great return and win the 1st point. Then we get to 30-30. The next two points are identical. With the wind blasting in my face he winds up at the net both points. This gives me an opportunity to blast a topspin lob as hard as I can because the wind is going to knock the ball down each time. The one at 30-30 was brilliantly struck and landed on the line. He's in disbelief and I give him a "Vamos!!"
Same scenario, he quickly moves into the net. Again, I'm at the baseline with the opportunity to clock another topspin lob as hard as I can.
I catch more frame than strings!
We both watch helplessly as the ball sails toward the baseline with little topspin...but into a fierce wind!
Boom! It catches the back of the baseline. Mike shouts: "I can't f**king believe it!!! It caught the line again!"
I run to his side of the court and jump into his arms!! "I f**king did it, dude! I won!! I f**king beat you!!"
Ha ha! The match score was 5 sets to 1. But f**k that. I WON!
First time I had taken a set off him, EVER!