“Do you think you can beat the team?”
We were lounging at NTC after the victory, a captain (since 1997!) who’s multiple teams made into playoffs in multiple districts asked me, referring to the team we lost in the Manhattan final.
“I don’t know.” I replied, honestly.
Immediately I regretted. My answer was purely Chinese, humble and modest. Come on Irene, this is USA where the culture differs drastically from China – I felt my answer was an insult to my mates.
The reason to my answer: tennis is really a recreation that I enjoy even I don’t really know it well – I need my partner consistently telling me what to do. So I never have high expectation when I walk onto a court, or for my teams. If I or we win, great, other wise no big deal. Perhaps it’s this mentality that I’ve been having fun while improving my games. My teams have been making the playoffs since day one except one when I was in Beijing. Ok, My teams have been winning because the players were diligently playing the regular seasons’ matches – that’s what’s count. They sacrifice and they rush to the rescue whenever needed.
Why the insult: all the players on the team are competitive and my “I don’t know” didn’t do them justice – seemed I doubt their ability or our chance which I certainly don’t.
Ok, back to the match.
We have a great season, out of 10 matches we won nine (not making any excuse … but … the only lose came when we had to forfeit a court due to snow), swept six.
It’s rare for me to sit on the sideline watching a match in its entirety. And the truth is, it’s hard. I sweat so much. I got four towels as sitting pad (we were on courts 10-12) but end up using them to dry my sweaty palms. My entourage came out in force. There were plenty spectators rooting for our opponents. All three courts were closely contested.
The first doubles played on Court 10, the closest to the benches. We won the first set at 4. There were many heart wrenching rallies. Finally our pair arrived at the match point at 5-4 but couldn’t hold. At that point, 2D and 3D started third set tie break almost simultaneously. It’s a tense moment. Few mates stood the whole time.
The opposing captain anchored their first doubles. I remembered playing her a couple of seasons ago. During that time, she teamed up with a fearsome hard hit giant whose serve was so powerful that I had to stand way behind the baseline, with my back to the wall. However, he had many misses too. Making the story short, she carried him. It was a timed match, 6-4, 4-6. I would find out that she joined 9 teams that season. Nine teams! Believe me, by now you should know that we are nuts and bums, anything is possible, if not more. I have a partner who’s on 19 teams and played 89 matches in 2014. That meant quarter of his nights in 2014 were spent playing League sanctioned tennis, excluding the practice nights, or day. Hope he’s single. Not sure if this would set a League record.
The third court was too far away for us to keep a score on them. Peacock was on the second court which was close enough for us to follow. They started off beautifully, poised with frequent high fives. Then we were horrible by the scene: the enthusiasm was gone. Peacock was kind in the pause mode. He was being passed left and right.
“What’s going on?” We wanted to shout out to find out. Did the tough warrior crumble?
His partner apparently was not having a good time. Who would under such circumstance? Her shoulders were slumping. She kept her head low. Her frustration was for all to see, it was piling high as the match went deeper. They lost the first set. I was so sure that my second double team was the surest bet.
We were evenly helplessly frustrated. So we turned out attentions back to Court 10. My pair was resilient and naturally talented. They finally closed out the second set at 5, and the match. (6-4. 7-5)
We breathed one third relief because the other two courts were still engaged in battle. They were all in third set super tiebreak. Because we did not know the scores of the tiebreak, our hearts took wild swing, went up and down with the conclusion of each point. When I high fived with Lum who stood next to me, over a beautiful down the line shot, I realized her palm was as sweaty as mine. I handed her a towel. She was so engulfed in the match, her husband took it for her. She used both fingers to keep track of the score in the tie break.
The opponent served. Lum’s right hand has three fingers up and left two. Our pair was on the right, and just won the point. One more finger on the right hand went up. She shook her hand, signaling it was 9-7.
“I hope I counted it right.” She whispered. I certainly hoped too.
Peacock returned the weak second serve with his trade mark that’s-it cross court shot. It was a winner. We waited to see if it was indeed the match point. My girl turned back and raised her hand. Peacock just stood there, did not move.
“Did we win?” we asked.
She walked over the give Peacock a high five.
Guess we must have won.
I shall let Peacock explain the horrifying scene on court during the first set:
“Our Mixed 7.0 tennis team won the Queens District Championship tonight. It was a tough 2-1 win. Unfort, I sprained my back at 3-3 in the 1st set and lost 4-6 but adrenaline kicked in and the pain subsided enough to come back to win 6-3, 10-7. After sitting for 1 hr, the lower back pain is so bad I can barely walk.”
Now we knew why Peacock looked off on court.
“.. Can barely walk, feel like a 90 yr old. Luckily I still have my cane fm foot surgery 2 yrs ago. Hope it’s a little better tmr…”
Oh my. Hope Peacock gets better tomorrow. He went to play the following day and won. Please don’t ask me how .. there is a will there is a way. One of the mates had to change her dinner plan (resulting cancelation – I was grateful but feeling guilty … ) to play.
The rule said we should exchange the lineup 30 minutes prior to the match. At 13 minutes to the match, I asked the opposing captain if she’s ready. She asked for five more minutes. I waited. Perhaps one of her players was running late.
We’d sizable spectators, for both sides. Both teams played well. I just want to take this opportunity to thank every mates who made this team so great.
All my three mixed doubles teams made into playoff. Although LI has one more match to play (4/28) but from the cumulative points we won, we will make the playoffs, no matter what. This itself is a cause to celebrate.