First We Take Manhattan ..

1964 New York World's Fair, May 15, 2010View from US Tennis Center of 1964 New York World’s Fair; May 15, 2010

I last heard First We Take Manhattan phrase was from the Polgar sisters when they were playing a tourney in the city.

My USTA league team’s fairytale-like story line is getting extended despite the belated complains that prohibited half of the teammates to compete – yes, the perfect season is still going strong.

Toward end of the regular season, at least one experienced captain has predicted doubtlessly that ‘ … Manhattan will take it all …’, meaning Manhattan will win the USTA/Eastern Metro Regional Championship.  Because they have 6 players who are playing below their USTA rating: two 4.5 male playing as 4.0 and four 3.5 playing as 3.0.  As a side note: I also learned, after all the dust has settled, that Manhattan team was so confident that they even booked hotels before the final was being played.  .. And after more dust had settled, I found out a charge on my credit card: I forgot to cancel a hotel reservation after we used Hotwire to book for our trip. Oh well, consider it the tuition paid.

gathering cloudWe gathered by the desk, listened for the brief instructions as how to play and behave 🙂 The Manhattan team has advantage.

We lost our appeals that were filed after our 7.0 Mixed Adults Flight Playoff (bumping four 3.0s to 3.5 – myself included; leaving only one 3.0 girl on the team with six seasoned 4.0 boys ..), hence we have to do with limited resources as we did in the division and regional’s playoffs – rallying heavily on four Marquis players.

It was a very sunny and windy day for our Metro playoffs, crispy blue sky dotted with white clouds. At 3:30, each team handed in their lineups and by 4pm, the league coordinator Deb-Rose Andrews went over briefly about the rules and called players to court. During regular season, captains exchange lineups five minutes prior to the start of the match, which leaves a bit time to coach IF you knew the opposing players. During the playoffs, you won’t know your opponents till the match time. So it’s surprise, which made the match more exciting.

getting readyWai and his partner are getting ready for their match.
Players immediately left for their courts and start 10 minutes warm up. Officials measured the nets and issued 5 minutes and 2 minutes warnings respectively. As it turned out, both teams were evenly matches in their peeking order – unfortunate for us, because we had hoped to capture a win by putting First, Third and Second in that order. In the past, many teams would put their strongest in the second to guarantee a court win. As the warm up progressed, we heard that their third double’s lady was running late. Sorry to admit but we were looking at our watches closely. Reportedly the lady is a lioness – a great player who eventually showed 45 minutes late. I wondered how did she face her team? The league coordinator default the match and awarded us a win, without sweat. The male player wasn’t charmed by this decision and argued, and argued, and argued with Deb-Rose loudly, saying she should only default them a set .. until she told him to be quiet other wise she would default the entire team for unsportsmanlike conduct.

The male player asking the coordinator to default them only a set was so absurd because the rule’s so clearly stated. He seemed like 狗急跳墙 cornered dog to me. Perhaps this showed how desperate he was, trying to salvage the match. Human nature? Probably but by being on time could avoid all of these.

DSCN6349She and her boyfriend partner have a perfect season too ..
We sat by Court 13, watching our only 4/3 combo playing a boy/girl friend team that had never lost in the season. I’ve heard about the guy from my teammate who had played him before.
“He’s solid 4.5 if not a 5.0 player, hard hitting and precise.”
Hit to the girl. It’s the rule of thumb.
“No, he controls the court so well, you just don’t get that opportunity.”
Indeed, he hits the ball so low and hard, it travels so fast that some times I couldn’t tell it’s in or out and frequently miss it altogether.
On his first or second serve – they elected to serve first – Mary called out. They both approached the net and questioned the call. He was about to go back to serve again but his partner won’t let go. She pressed Wai for confirmation.
Wai shrugged: “I didn’t see.”
She said to Mary, “Ooh, he said he didn’t know so it our point.”
What? Putting word in people’s mouth? How assertive .. .. but I liked her little tattoo!
cheering sectionCheering section from the other side of the East River
Queen Mary simply raised her right hand ..
“I called it out.”
[My advice: don’t mess with my girls, especially QM .. it just makes her to be stronger and nastier ..]
The girl worn a low cut top who reminded me of this puny cute ball girl, so Mary kept reminding Wai to concentrate on the game in Cantonese. Throughout the match they jokes about it and other harmless stuff. Wai got passed left and right, from the LC. Oh lord .. the surplus from the defaulted court is vanishing fast.
When the LC was serving at 2:4, we felt pretty good: break her and take a 5:2 comfortable lead. Guess some one lost his concentration again, no? The first set ended up to a tie break.
More concentration was lost, and our pair found themselves deep in a hole: 0:6. It’s a regular tie break, best of 7 by 2 points wins the set. Wondering if anyone had captured our facial expressions at that juncture?!

Kodak Moment, anyone?

Then 咸鱼翻身 (起死回生) back to life

Miracle or destiny, point by point our pair fought back. Some hard and some were given on a silver plate – unforced error by the opponents. It was nail biting and heart wrenching 6 points because every one of it had the potential to be the set point against us.
Mary and Wai won by 8:6 or 9:7. I couldn’t remember.

thanks to wai for not telling me what the score was during the tiebreaker on the first set, i would have been nervous.

Sean is the only a professional trainer/ ball boy/bartender and tennis playerSean is only a professional trainer/ball boy/bartender/tennis player/golfer and does law as his side job.. ..
Second set began.
There were close calls and there was a clear in but called out by the blue jersey that resulted winning that first game. Despite those patchy moments the match was fluid. Ok, except one moment when the BJ hit a shot so low and mean to Wai that caused Bill yelling out:
“He isn’t a father yet!”
.. Then moment later our QM got a cramp, had to stop in the middle of the game. The girl in Low Cut said sarcastically,
“Is this a circus or what?”
She and her BJ partner went to their bench and sat down. Their teammate who’s lady partner came in late resulting default went over started coaching her.
Bill went over, politely shoo him away like a dog. Tennis is really a gentlemen’s game with etiquette. If coaching isn’t allow, which was specifically covered at the briefing, and clearly stated in the rule book, then please don’t do it.
As to the circus question, no, lady, it’s for real and don’t be too mean.
DSCN6378Don’t we all see ourselves in her: brash, brassy, bossy and bally? The privilege of being young.
We handed our Queen the Gator, banana, and even Advil. The official came over questioning her. Not sure no eating allowed or drugs are not allow taken on court? But she took it anyway.
Sorry, no one can tell QM what to do or not to do.
One of my boys dabbed in as trainer, gave her cramping leg a good rub. Told you, my 4.0 boys all become the bench warmers who are operating the massage parlor 24/7 since they couldn’t play.
Game resumed.
Then the Low Cut got cramp.
I kidded you not.
The game resumed soon after she took her time out.
Mary got a foot fault call by the official .. but they managed to broke the LC and Wai began to serve at 5:4.
Wai is type of guy who really could up a notch when facing a steep competition. Which he did. He and Mary played really well. Mary was unyielding when the BJ hit rocket at her at the net with all his might, she simply just blocked it. Although it sent the ball high in the air and ultimately went out, it sent a message that .. don’t try it again.

DSCN6376The BJ – blue jersey .. he’s really good ..
Actually in mixed doubles, the rule of thumb is hit to the girl because we are usually the weakest link. But all the guys I’ve played in this league during the season this far not many I can recall who did it. Yes many had hit at me, but not lethal. Gentleman’s game? Not sure I really appreciated it or not. Ok, the not appreciate part is, I’d like to play really games, not water down ones.
Anyway, our match point came quickly.
By that time, our second doubles had lost 0 and 3. So this point would seal our fate, moving forward.
Just do it, Wai.
Yes, he did, netted.

The surging bubble immediately was deflected. And began to worry Mary’s cramping leg. We all knew Wai didn’t want to end it because of the LC across the net. Mary said so on the court too.
Two more match points were erased and Wai eventually lost the game. Forfeiting match point to be on court with the pretty woman .. .. some camp was really happy. As if Wai read our minds, he raised his hands, .. ..
“My fault, my fault .. ..”
Eventually, we won the next two games. When they shock hand at the net, the LC said in perfect Cantonese to Wai ..
Sorry I don’t kiss and tell ..
Contact me privately if you must know.
#1 Doubles 7-6, 7-5
#2 Doubles 0-6, 3-6
#3 Doubles 6-0, 6-0
Yup, we took Manhattan, indeed.

The smiles didn’t come easy

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