Archive for June 20, 2010

The Woman in Red

coin tossFirst thing first. Our first match at the Sectionals vs Southern. My partner Sean at coin toss ceremony.

I floated into the court feeling like a million buck light and happy but soon were sent off the court on our own feet: we lost decisively at 1 and 1. Better than the bicycles, right? I’m thick skinned optimistic. The guy was just too good: he’s 4.0 and she was 3.5 who’s solid too. The other two pairs of the opposing team – Chestnut Ridge (Westchester) were all 7.0 in combo:
1st Doubles: Eng 7.0 vs CR 7.5
2nd Doubles: 7.0 vs 7.0
3rd Doubles: 7.0 vs 7.0
On paper, we had a dream lineup: the weakest pair (Sean and I) played their strongest so that our other two teams would have better chance of winning. But the reality wasn’t quit so, with the hidden gem(s).
The skipper (right) and the lady in redThe skipper (right) and the lady in red skirt to the left
Does anyone remember of seeing this lady, in red skirt? Whom I had played last summer? Who told me that she’s on St. Johns’ team? It turned out her name is Judith A Norton (her sister Danielle S. Carr are both 4.0 player in the league. Apparently They also joined the league this season, as freshman.)
According to the NTRP,

NAIA, Div. 2 & 3 unranked college team player (commited to, playing, or played )

should ranked at 4.5 if under the age of 35 and 4.0 for 35 and over. She certainly doesn’t look like a day older than 28 but guess she is or ..?
The funny part’s she didn’t recognize me at all and that she and Danielle S. Carr aren’t sisters at all, but collectively or commonly to be known as The Carton, guess she had fun time fooling this old bag, telling me fab :).
Anyway, Wai and Mary had an easy set, 6:1 but was totally dead in the second, getting bageled. Sounded like the way Simon and I were being played last summer at Cunningham Park. Ogbonna Chilaka was too good to be a 3.0 man. There are tricks to employ to protect a player’s lower-than-actual ranking, by dumping games/matches. Bill had told me from the beginning that there are two types of teams: one playing for fun and one playing to win.
Winning is great. But does it feel great to hoisting the trophy knowing well tricks were used?
Ha .. remember .. life isn’t always fair and should you decide to join the League, take it like a man.

The Carton


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Season standing

standingKai and Anna had the most wins: 13 matches each. They had the perfect score till the Metro playoffs and were the only team that played together throughout. The only two matches lost were occurred at the Sectional playoffs. Wah and Simon both had a perfect score of 4 and 5 respectively.
Most players on my team were very considerate and humble. I’m very grateful and feeling lucky.
DSCN6703The love birds.
The girl in sunglasses was about to go off for her first match at the Sectionals, against the pair behind her. I met their skipper (Northern Albany) at the Captains’ meeting the night before and had enjoyable conversation.

Having lost badly with me earlier, my partner Sean was giddy upon seeing two seniors.
As it turned out, the lady was a solid 4.0 and the guy is a 3.5. They both were very experienced and didn’t miss much. My team lost 6:2 the first set. The second set was close, but still we came up bit short at 7:5.

Kai and Anna’s match had gone to the 3rd set super tie break. Very exciting. Both teammates jointly cheered the four on on winners and ouuuuued on errors. It was pure tennis, pure joy of seeing four players battling out there under the scorching sun with all they had. Nothing divided us (as opposing team) the spectators. No whispers (trying to coach), no mean glances (as if that could help their players to win). Our pair eventually nailed it at 23:21 or something like that.

now .. listen .. Both Northern and Western teams were very enjoyable to play. They seem to be the poster child I pictured this league is all about: competitive yet friendly. There wasn’t any hit of meanness and nastiness.

Wah is polite and humble but after the match, he said to the pair in a firm tone,
“Sit down and listen if you want to win.”
He went on to stress the technique of playing doubles or mixed doubles ..
I listened but promptly forgot .. -:(
That’s me, the forgetful senior.
Maybe the Pretty Woman in the shade could fill it up for me here.

We had dinner at Katrinellas Bistro the first night up there. The restaurant is nothing to write home about it although it ranked pretty high on Trip Adviser.

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The League

DSCN6736The Championship is very much a family affair, meeting old friends/foes.
One night at Ikea, a plump middle aged lady was asking one of the store clerks in her heavy Hispanic accent if the shipping was free.

The tall clerk who’s a young woman, stood on a slightly raised floor behind the desk, looking down and replied haughtily,

“It’s complimentary.”

The Hispanic lady looked to her husband/male companion for clue. He looked blank.

“Free?” She turned to the clerk and repeated herself.

“It’s c-o-m-p-l-i-m-e-n-t-a-r-y.” The clerk insisted.

I was thinking: gosh, why didn’t she make it easy by just confirming its “free” instead. For Pete’s sake, it’s Ikea, not some white gloves stores that caters to the Park Avenue sophisticates.

Q-16: Have you ever had a published NTRP rating?

long time no see ..This is the last one on USTA’s Player Self-Rating questionnaire. English being not my first tongue and I suspect that the league consists many immigrants, would official be less confusing? Or better yet, simply make the program/application able to auto fill the box should the player had one. One of my players is in the printing business. Publish means authors, books and magazines to her. She was dumbfounded to see it and replied No even she played in the league a decade ago. (It became the ground for her mid season bumping.) Actually the auto fill should be easy to implement and the benefit is great: it would avoid many headache for the league/team/captains since we don’t know each new player’s history, and this one is pretty black and white. The league may see this is captain’s job, but how could each cap know? I’ve heard on my first match, the opposing captain said to the guy who played us “.. nice meeting you” as he was leaving after the match. I gathered that they just met that day ( Ok .. They might have exchange hundreds of emails and swaps life stories or their communication be succinct ..), that he joined the team and she put him in the lineup. Due diligence .. would she question/grill his 3.5 rating should he’s a self-rater? I doubt, and felt strongly if the league improves the auto fill on Q16 (or any others) that could reduced the chance for ignorance/forgetful/out right cheating attempt/poor command of the language, etc.

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at captains' meetingAt Captains’ Meeting on Thursday
The Captains’ meeting was on Thursday at 7pm. The check in started at 6pm: each cap got the t-shirt for the team, info packet for the weekend and a thank you gift (a thermo water flask). The small meeting room had five tables – one for each flight, 6.0 – 10.0. Three plus half captains showed up at our table out of 6 teams. The Southern and Northern plus Long Island. The Southern cap from Westchester was very remote, didn’t talk with us at all.  Jean is from the Albany area who’s very gracious and chatty.
~ . ~
Couple of summers ago I went to watch the 3.5 men league play at the NTC. The night was very pleasant and the out door courts at the USTA were buzzing with actives. Few fashionably dressed ladies were sipping wines in the stems while watching their mates sweat it out there. Sunny was playing a singles match and complaining that his opponent’s cheating who called all close shots out. I didn’t remember the out come since Sunny was upset and left immediately afterward.

One of Golfer’s four-some had played the league a decade ago and had quit because “there were too much cheating.”

DSCN6730Those might just be the rare cases because I didn’t encounter any out right cheating this past season but only few bad line calls here and there, myself included. Credit to the league and players as well.

The NTRP is the back bone of this recreational league but look closely, I realized that it isn’t cut and dry. Many players were clearly under rated, not including the year end rating group; and few were rated above their actual ability. I think for the teams that aim at Nationals, their players were tend to be rated lower and for the teams that aim at fun, the players were rated generously above. If one understands that life isn’t fair and this league is manned by humans who are imperfect, we’ll all be happy. There were instances which I felt clearly uncalled for but there were also unbelievable courtesy that extended to my team, resulting in our favor. Take this league as a game and enjoy it, then you’ll have a blast. Which I had.

Oh, get this: there are players who play on not only one or two but multiple teams; there are teams that play in different divisions; and there are captains who manage multiple teams, one has 10 teams (did I get this right?) and always serve sushi at team practices. Don’t know my McDonald’s wage could cover Shashimi or dumplings. Sorry kids ..

You must enter at least first 4 letters of the Last Name and first 3 letter of the First Name

last nameOn the Search By Player Namepage, maybe the League can shrink the number of letters required, like myself who’s last name only have 3 letters? What if the player’s first name has only two letters? No wonder no paparazzi staking out of my door.

At the Sectionals, I met my tormentors who decided to bumped up us -:). Ya, you bet I made threat that they ought to hire a body guard or two. They were probably the biggest tennis bums just like you and I – the usta league is populated by the vets rather than the newbies. My gut feeling is that I’ll be one of the vets soon, and hoping to improve my sick humor too.

Just one season (maybe an one night stand thing anyway) on the job giving an review of the league seems inappropriated, especially when I wasn’t really doing much – under the tutelage of Bill. But what’s the heck, given the fact how eventful this season had been for my team I think I’ve earned this bragging right.

DSCN6738One of my tormentors who’s in her 50s said that she was being bumped up too (the league could make the game fairer ..) and when she went to the Nationals last year (?) she ended up playing a young girl in her 20s. With her experience, she actually eked out few games (as vs leaving on a bicycle). She did muse out loud that maybe the league would consider having different age divisions. Currently there are 50+ Senior Div as well as 60+ Super Senior division. If the NTRP is really effective, then the age shouldn’t be playing a major roll. Too many divisions would make the league cumbersome – they might have to hold championship tournaments every month :).

And to correct the record – I went to the 3.5 Nationals in 2007. My last match as a 3.5 player was against a 19yr old player (I was 53) who was self-rated and was 18-0 that year. I lost to her 6-3, 6-4 in the semi-finals. Even before that match it was my position that self-rated players shouldn’t be allowed to advance to Championships. I think you should be a hardened computer-rated veteran to go onto the Championship level – it is the only way to make things really fair! But that is just my opinion.

Guess my recollection of our conversation wasn’t precise. The tormentor wrote to correct me. I strongly agree that self-rated players not be allowed participating at the playoffs.

As to the venue of the championship, will the League ever consider to hold it in NYC, at the NTC once? Give us the New Yorkers a slight advantage? Surprisingly, one of the coordinators told me that NTC is very uncooperative, the league was at mercy of the Center. Hmmmmm … the USTA league is in the business of promoting tennis which is the NTC’s sole business, why wouldn’t they be supportive?
There are two types of player/team: one seeking win and one for fun. As a player, I knew I would want a steep challenge, playing up. Having the cake and wanting to eat it too. Possible? Sure. Improve your game first, and come up with better jokes .. ha ha ha..

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