Archive for February, 2013

The twisty road to the playoffs

IMG_5174It was the quarter final match of the playoffs. My partner Jiawei and I were playing on the third court and were down 0-6 and 0-3. I did not want to be there and I wasn’t suppose to be there.  I was the captain of my tennis team. Because of my tender back I have not played  lately.  Although the format of the playoffs is single elimination, I the opportunity should  be given to the teammates who carried us this far. But unfortunately no one was available.

[The screenshot of the score 2-1; our regular season]

The match started out normally. The opposing captain, as usual, warm and gracious. He seemed to know my players well, he wrote their names fluidly on a scrap piece of paper. The third court was at the far end. From the get go, I played lousily. After a couple of unforced errors, the opponents began to send all their shots my way, the weakest link. They were great players and excellent pair. The ball was either passed me by or was too inconvenient for me to reach. At each change over, their giggling chatter became louder and more relaxed. Why not? They had firm control of the match. Before I knew what had hit me, the girl sent over a screaming winning down my side of the line and handed us a bagel, 0-6.

A few pix on FB [Tennis scoring ..]

It was 8:30 on a Wednesday, a dead winter night in New York. Bone chill cold would send ordinary folks home for a hot dinner, and perhaps followed by an apple pie with a Bud, sitting in their favored couch in front of TV cheering for their teams. We are different. Because we are staunch tennis nuts and bums. Leaving work, grabbed a bite then headed to the battleground. [sometime is as late as 9pm]. The cold always makes me feel like a chord than a recreational pleasure. But once with my friends, and see the court, none of these non sense matters. I would perk up and ready for a thrilling ride.

IMG_5182I was not suppose to play and I did not want to play. Glenn Close’s television series legal thriller Damages, that was noted for its plot twists, among a few others was on Netflix. I’ve just finished watching them all, three seasons. I thought of my Manhattan 2013 7.0 mixed‘s road to the playoffs, which was no less twisty. And this is for real, non-fiction.

Another reason that I was not planning to play because Jiawei had set his mind on the girl he’s recently played with who’s better than me in everyway, so I did feel a little apprehensive for being there. The second set, I quickly found we were down 0-3. It looked an easy win for our opponents. I began to think long and hard.

  • First off, the Super Sandy made our season seemingly impossible. But we prevailed.
  • Secondly, I was not health so played only two matches to fulfill the mandatory requirement to be able to participate in the playoffs.
  • Because I did not play more matches, the playoffs should really be played by the players who played a lot BUT
  • I’ve the largest number of players among all my previous teams: 21 strong AND
  • I needed to constantly begging for players to step up to fill a line up
  • Relocation
  • ACL injury with serious surgery and six months off
  • Romance
  • Tardiness that led to forfeiture of a court – a first in all my mixed doubles teams
  • On the brink of forfeiting the playoff entirely
  • gender change [on a different team]
  • Death
  • .. ..

Could I fight back?

After what we had been through, I wanted to. I did not want to let down of my teammates.

It was a long road ahead. But perhaps how we got here finally motivated me: I couldn’t lose this match. I wanted to fight for my team who fought hard the whole season to get us here. I told myself: forget about the burdens, just play. Play I did. A game by game, we inched back to 3-3. Then 4-3. 5-3 and we took the second set at 6-3. I didn’t know what I did right, except Jiawei played brilliantly, that’s motivated me, dug myself out of that deep hole. We started to have communication, and thing began to turn our way. During a game there was a shot I called it out, way beyond the base line; but the girl said, “I saw it’s on the line.” IMG_5184The court was messy – none of them got cleaned by the club before the match. How could she see it from her side of the baseline? The next shot, Jiawei served a nasty ace that landed on the T but the guy called it “net”, then immediately said to me “I’m not getting back at you.” 不打自招 (confessed); 画蛇添足 (draw legs on a snake);  越描越黑; 多此一举 (Superfluous); 此地无银三百两 (admitting their guilt)… I could go on but will stop here.

In any case, the momentum began to shift. Along the way, Jiawei was very encouraging who comforted me by saying, I didn’t need to worry, he’d cover the net. When we started our third set the super tie break which is best of 10 by winning ahead of two point, the other two courts had done. I couldn’t tell if we’d won. (Here I really wanted to commanded my teammates who are really great sportsmen. They never tried to be sneaky, giving hand signals, whisper’s .. ) We lost the first point – I netted it. What else’s new? The long and thrilling rallies continued in the tie break. It was my turn to serve at 8-5. Of course I hoped to close it out. The guy returned my serve back at me to the ad court. I was lazy to turn my shoulders, the ball did not go over the net. It was 8-6. My backhand has always been dependable but it been failing me the entire night. I walked over to right side of the court, thinking what could I do to widen the scoring gap, making it 9-6. My opponent seemed could read my mind. She pranced on my first serve. Her return was fast and furious that I had to scramble to get to it. It was a wake lob and her partner was already stationed at the net and a clean smack down. 8-7. I began to feel my age. My butt was dropping down and my belly was sticking out further, my legs were loaded with sandbags. A few more mates came. The court was so quiet that I could hear a pin drop, or my own heart beat which was fast. Not from the running but from the situation at hand: I just lost two point that could have won the match, to advance us to the semi final. I wanted to kick myself. It’s the girl’s serve. Jiawei was at on the left side of the court  (the Ad side) and won the point fluidly. At 7-9, we had our match point! She walked to the deuce court to serve to me. A match point. It was not long ago we were down 0-6 and 0-3. And just seconds ago, I lost two points that could have won the match. Her serve came and I blanked myself out. Mechanically returned it to her side – the deuce side alley with my failing backhand. For the entire night, I didn’t think if I hit a single back hand winner. Maybe my drive to dig myself out and my desire to win had move someone or something, it was a clean return landed short, and was a winner. One could image my relief. Finally I contributed something to my team. This would be the first of three play off match that was decided in the third set. The remaining two matches, up to the final of the Metro Region, were all gone to the super tiebreak. Four teammates jumped into our court and hugged us. Other four mates also came on to the court and congratulated us. Thanks for the support. And thanks for taking us thus far mates! Now I’m starting to worry about my lineup for the semi. (The following night I received a text from my buddy who just played against the same captain’s other team. The captain told him that the girl cried the whole night. Such is the cost of playing a sport: you either win or lose… immidiate brutal but honest reality, not for the faint hearts.) Tennis is a good metaphor for life. This match illustrated my experience fittingly. We are privileged enough to be in the playoff. The location of the match and the opponents were predetermined. I have no choice but to go there and to take them on. It’s the same way as I could not choose my parents and my root in that matter but to live on, learn to cope with the good and bad that come with it – being their child and live my own life. No one lives alone and we all affected by circumstance that beyond our control. We depend on others, as I depended on my partner. Our opponents were excellent players. A huge obstacle for us to over come. With the help of my partner I dug myself out of a hole. Losing the match was easy, as in life, walk way from a challenge or problem is easy. But the gratification of winning it, or solving a problem is great. The opponents elevated my game and pushed my limit. I was grateful for that. I was even more grateful to find out how capable I was to fight upward. I am glad that I gave myself an opportunity to prove to me, what I can do. What I am capable of. I am glad that I did not give up at 0-3, the long road back. How many people would have given up? How many times I had given up, in the past? If I didn’t try, how would I know what I am capable of?

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Part 2 – The Code: Making Calls

page 46 of 2011 Friend at Court
5. Player makes calls on own side of net. A player calls all shots landing on, or aimed at, the player’s side of the net.
6. Opponent gets benefit of doubt. When a match is played without officials, the  players are responsible for making decisions, particularly for line calls. There is a  subtle difference between player decisions and those of an on-court official. An official impartially resolves a problem involving a call, whereas a player is guided by the unwritten rule that any doubt must be resolved in favor of an opponent. A player in attempting to be scrupulously honest on line calls frequently will keep a ball in play that might have been out or that the player discovers too late was out. Even so, the game is much better played this way.
7. Ball touching any part of line is good. If any part of a ball touches a line, the ball is good. A ball 99% out is still 100% good. A player shall not call a ball out unless the player clearly sees space between where the ball hits and a line.
8. Ball that cannot be called out is good. Any ball that cannot be called out is considered to be good. A player may not claim a let on the basis of not seeing a ball. One of tennis’ most infuriating moments occurs after a long hard rally when a player makes a clean placement and an opponent says: “I’m not sure if it was good or out. Let’s play a let.” Remember, it is each player’s responsibility to call all balls landing on, or aimed at, the player’s side of the net. If a ball cannot be called out with certainty, it is good. When a player says an opponent’s shot was really out but offers to replay the point to give the opponent a break, it seems clear that the player actually doubted that the ball was out.
9. Either partner may make calls in doubles. Although either doubles partner may make a call, the call of a player looking down a line is much more likely to be accurate than that of a player looking across a line.
10. All points are treated the same regardless of their importance. All points in a match should be treated the same. There is no justification for considering a match point differently from a first point.
11. Requesting opponent’s help. When an opponent’s opinion is requested and the opponent gives a positive opinion, it must be accepted. If neither player has an opinion, the ball is considered good. Aid from an opponent is available only on a call that ends a point.
12. Out calls reversed. A player who calls a ball out shall reverse the call if the player becomes uncertain or realizes that the ball was good. The point goes to the opponent and is not replayed. However, when a receiver reverses a fault call on a serve that hit the net, the server is entitled to two serves.
13. Player calls own shots out. With the exception of the first serve, a player should call out the player’s own shots if the player clearly sees the ball out regardless of whether requested to do so by an opponent. The prime objective in making calls is accuracy. All players should cooperate to attain this objective.
14. Partners’ disagreement on calls. If one partner calls the ball out and the other partner sees the ball good, they shall call it good. It is more important to give opponents the benefit of the doubt than to avoid possibly hurting a partner’s feelings. The tactful way to achieve the desired result is to tell a partner quietly of the mistake and then let the partner concede the point. If a call is changed from out to good, the principles of Code § 12 apply.
15. Audible or visible calls. No matter how obvious it is to a player that an opponent’s ball is out, the opponent is entitled to a prompt audible or visible out call.
16. Spectators never make calls. A player shall not enlist the aid of a spectator in making a call. No spectator has a part in a match.
17. Prompt calls eliminate two chance option. A player shall make all calls promptly after a ball has hit the court. A call shall be made either before the player’s return shot has gone out of play or before an opponent has had an opportunity to play the return shot. Prompt calls will quickly eliminate the “two chances to win the point” option that some players practice. To illustrate, a player is advancing to the net for an easy put away and sees a ball from an adjoining court rolling toward the court. The player continues to advance and hits the shot, only to have the supposed easy put away fly over the baseline. The player then claims a let. The claim is not valid because the player forfeited the right to call a let by choosing instead to play the ball. The player took a chance to win or lose and is not entitled to a second chance.
18. Let called when ball rolls on court. When a ball from an adjacent court enters the playing area, any player on the court affected may call a let as soon as the player becomes aware of the ball. The player loses the right to call a let if the player unreasonably delays in making the call.
19. Touches, hitting ball before it crosses net, invasion of opponent’s court, double hits, and double bounces. A player shall promptly acknowledge when:
• A ball in play touches the player;
• The player touches the net or opponent’s court while a ball is in play;
• The player hits a ball before it crosses the net;
• The player deliberately carries or double hits a ball; or
• A ball bounces more than once in the player’s court.
The opponent is not entitled to make these calls.

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my questions and reasoning

At 9-6, the third set super tie break. (The super tie break is playing in lieu of a third set due to time constrain. The first party to win 10 points lead by two wins the set hence the match.) My team has the match point and my guy was serving and the point became contentious.

The opposing team wrote to the Coordinator:

During the tiebreak, the player from Great Neck hit a ball, which was audibly called wide by our male player.The Great Neck team countered that an “in signal” had been made by our female player, which both players from our team immediately said was not the case. Our female player had to jump out of the way of the ball and explained that she was unable to make any call because while in mid air was unable to see where the ball had landed and had deferred to the player that was watching the spot of the ball.

My guy wrote that I forwarded to the Coordinator:

This was the following rule and why I ended the game:

All line calls must be made clearly and immediately. If there is any doubt, the ball is good. (A ball that is 99% out, is  still 100% in). When an out call is corrected, the point is given to the opposing team. Unless invited by the opposing team,
players may not cross to their opponent’s side of the court to check a mark.

Giselle and I were at the net and Giselle hit a volley very wide. The ball takes a funny bounce on the line, the guy calls it out and the girl misses the ball. I was watching her and the line and she immediately gives a flat palm signalling good. The guy becomes very loud arguing that he called it out. Nobody was disputing him but the girl then changes her mind and said he called it out. If she had called it out immediately then I would have moved on to serve again for match point. I never made a call, I was just watching for her reaction for missing the ball. I ended the game on the principle that she was in doubt and changed her call because her partner became extremely loud about it. Keith kept yelling at me but I told him to question his partner. After a few minutes of this, we walked to the bench and I said the match is over. I was trying to enforce the rule above but if she was going to change her mind and change her story then she has no integrity.

1) We did not argue over any points in the game and I gave away 3 questionable calls in their favor
2) It was my serve for match point at 9-6, there was no pressure and no reason to cheat.

The rule by the 2011 Friend at Court:

  • 6. Opponent gets benefit of doubt. … any doubt must be resolved in favor of an opponent.
  • any doubt must be resolved in favor of an opponent.
  • 14. Partners’ disagreement on calls. If one partner calls the ball out and the other partner sees the ball good, they shall call it good.
  • 15. Audible or visible calls. No matter how obvious it is to a player that an opponent’s ball is out, the opponent is entitled to a prompt audible or visible out call.

My questions:

  1. Does the was unable to see where the ball had landed equals doubt?? If it is, then the following rulings are mote.
  2. Does the was unable to see where the ball had landed equals disagreement?
  3. which team gets the benefit of the doubt, my team who challenged or opposing team who made the call?

This is dispute happened at the match point, worthy arguing. If it were during the match, a disputed point would not have mean an out come of the match, not too obvious anyway.

The Coordinator’s rule (2012.12.27, file 22416):

Question is raised regarding the female player on the Blue Point team making a call of good. The Great Neck player is stating that the call was made with a hand gesture, not verbally. The Blue Point player claims she did not make any hand gestures. Opposing views that are hard to dispute as I was not there and this is being based on a gesture only. Had the Blue Point player said “good” or “nice shot”, we would have a decisive call. I dont feel that the movement of a persons hand which is being disputed by that person is enough of a call.
The one thing in the email from the Blue Point captain and from the Great Neck player that is in agreement by both, is that the Great Neck team refused to continue play at 9-6 in the super tie break. ..
It is my decision that the court be awarded to the Blue Point team.

The coordinator talked about walking off the court rather than addressing the disputed point?? The fact is, my player admitted that he has considered the match was over. There should not have been any ‘walking off the court’ situation. Correct?

Committee’s rule (2013.01.09, file 22408):

In response to your grievance submitted on December 27th, we have given careful consideration to the issues you raised and have decided your grievance will not be upheld.
Tennis comes with a bloodline of sportsmanship that few other sports can match. We are all entrusted to make our own line calls, even in championship matches. A fundamental principle of tennis calls for competitors to give the benefit of the doubt to their opponent when unsure about a close line call.
As your players stated, the line call was the only questionable call in the entire match. Rather than give their opponents the benefit of the doubt your players walked off the court ending the match and thereby resulting in a default.

Ok, the Committee addressing the disputed call. I agree on give the benefit of the doubt because I gave and received plenty. But in this case, which team should get the benefit of the doubt?

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Double default being modified

Not sure what does that mean. After our games at GNE, Robbie and I drove over to see our mates playing. As we walked in, Ron and Yuanwen just won their match.


Double default being modified

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A good Friday

We swept, all in 3rd set tiebreaks. Too close!

This text message came in at 10:27, as I’ve just finished with my practice at GNE. It’s a double joy: I lost the entire night till the very last set – won in tie break. (lost to Fab/Darling 6-2 and was on serve {or down a break?} the second set when time was up. The second hour Sam and I lost to Tino/Roy at 4 – I double faulted to give the set away …)

Congratulations kids!

What a relief. It’s such a nice way to start the weekend.

[at the match] when I looked over [other two courts], you don’t want to know what I was thinking: we all lost the 1st set. [That’s] Put a lot of pressure on me to win. I thot Lum was getting crushed. 2D had a fight, and the 21 y/o girl was outstanding.  .. .. my opponents knew how to attack Sachi n push her around.

The text and emails kept rolling in ..

My longest match. We had exactly 10 min for 3 set tiebrk…it was 9:50 p.m..

Before the match, the opposing captain asked Wai should they play till finish or stick to 2-hour limit? Wai opted 2-hour. Oh well.

What’s happened on 2D? What kind of fight?

Trash talking in the heat, neither one wud back off. I didn’t want to get involved and neither did the other captain.

Like what?

Small stuff, [our girl] vs the guy. Pete told me after .. the guy kept cheating on calls.

That’s very unfortunate. Actually, the 2D was on the same 2010 team with me ( .. I’d 2-5 record. The only two wins were with Michael.)

.. the match was a positive experience. I was worried in the beginning since I never got the chance to practice with Lum. It was so crazy that I never played with her or played against her nor even seen her play…But we both put our heads together in the second set to rally back and win the game in a super tie brake. 🙂

.. She’s mentioned that she barely had any experience in the 8.0 level and I have to say she picked up her game in the second set and especially in the tie brake. She was solid like a wall considering our opponent just picked on her all night. The man and woman were relentless to win and their strategy was to break Irene down. Give her credit for pulling out this win! It was all her contribution that we won. 🙂

My kids are the best! And I’m sure Wah must be smiling like a Santa -:).

Early in the day, the USTA Eastern held a webinar on team management. It’s very helpful.

Untitled 2 follwoing a team Untitled 1

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The mandarin ducks

Feb 27, 2013

Feb 27, 2013

There is a pair of guys who always come to swim together. One is skinny with curly hair and one stocky with crew cut. They do laps but often they like to chat while parallel kicking with a board. It’s fine in an empty lane, or with a slow swimmer who does everything except free style – they can see. BUT it’s annoying and dangerous when people doing laps in free. I walked to the lane, the three (one lady) were all doing laps. Both side lanes had two slow swimmers which made circling impossible. One guy was on desk striping, getting ready to swim. As courtesy, I informed all of them that I’m going to join the lane. One of the guys asked,
“Why can’t you join the other lane ..?”
“I prefer this lane.” I replied. One of the side lane would soon have threesome too.
About a dozen laps later, I bumped someone. And bumped someone again on my way back. This was too frequent. I took off my goggles at the end, and saw the two leisurely paralleling down the lane. The lady was still doing her laps in free style.
Hey guys, please have some common courtesy??

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Default and reschedule

The snow storm was brewing, out of safety issue with many back and forth emails, I defaulted one court at the last second, 2:57pm yesterday. Here is the rule for rescheduling which we are not eligible:

Rescheduling Courts: Re-schedules are reserved for teams who cannot field players for a match, not for teams wanting to field their best team. We will accept 1 request to re-schedule a court – submitted before 1 February 2013.

Any further re-schedule requests will only be considered due to extenuating circumstances where an illegal match will occur. Captains must submit a detailed explanation at least 1 week in advance to the level and local league coordinator for consideration.

If a re-schedule is granted, teams will be given one date for the re-schedule and date by when they must confirm. If either team can not make the re-schedule date, the requesting team must forfeit.

Tonight’s matches (many other teams too..) got canceled at 11:15am this morning by the league due to the storm. The normal time for cancellation by a team is at 3pm the day before to avoid paying for the court.

Does this mean that our default 3D match is reinstated since our cancelation was also out of safety concern?

Unfortunately, no. The cancelled court from yesterday remains cancelled so you only have two courts in play when your match from today is rescheduled.


Oh well, our bad luck.

There isn’t a posted rule pertaining to this ruling tho. So our mates weighted in. One side argued that re-schedule should only apply to what’s available on that original date and the other side felt the reason we canceled was the same reason the league canceled the entire match – all due to safety issue – so we should be allowed to field the third court. The confusion rose only because we did not see any written rule – our memory is still fresh that the coordinator can be wrong. So I asked to see the written rule. It was especially jarring when the same coordinator always appends rules whenever I’ve a question in the past. Why not this time? Where is the written rule?

The league never showed us the written rule. Maybe they don’t have?

Not that I cared about forfeiting a court – our lead in the league is more  than comfortable, we ended the season as #1,  ahead #2 by 19 points (each match worth 13 points).

In any case, the match is being rescheduled to March 4, two courts only.

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The last match

Bonnie starts her afternoon (5:30-6:30) Classic Pilates class. She introduced herself a little before the start of the class, that she’s been teaching full time for the past 13 years, that she teaches the teachers and she took the training from Mr. Pilates himself. I asked her what’s the difference between Pilates and yoga. Her reply: Pilates doesn’t hold posses and it’s new, from a person while yoga’s been around for thousand of years (probably from thousands of methods/teachers).

I got to the club relatively early but Jim, Annette and Laurence were already there. Michael was there but playing someone else. Running into someone you know is as a sure bet as New York sky is so blue -:). I know, I know it’s bad. Can’t think of anything at the moment.

The opposing captain who played 2D was late and no one has the line up to exchange with me. We filed onto the court and started to warm up. Dave and Laurence cleaned their court first. Guess if I were mean I could have forced the captain to play the third doubles but the thought never crossed my mind: win fair and be courteous.

Jim and I started very slow, we were down 0-3. When I was feeling thirsty, did I realize my tea was still at the lounge. Jim spared me a bottle, SmartWater. Ha .. we won next 4 games and took the first set at 4. The second set was an easy win, I think we had the momentum.

The 3rd place team in
Div I has: 86.5 (out of 12 matches)
Div II: 71 (65+6) (out of 10 matches)
Div III: 75 (68+7) (out of 10 matches) -> us

Div 1

Div 2

Div 3

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The ring

As a small group, we set a few rules. One of them is tardiness: if you’re not ready to play by 15 minutes past the starting time, you need to play $15 penalty.

Luckily the players in our group are all very respectful and punctual. Since October 2012 we’ve had 28 events, I only encountered two players who were visibly late. One of them was last twice in a row: the week before was wrong location and yesterday, was stuck in the city and ended up 1.5 hours late in a 2-hour long match. The $15 penalty was meant to reimburse the three suffering players – now what would I do when there are six victims (we switch court by half time)?

It’s very stressful for me as an organizer, knowing three nice souls weren’t having a good match. I double faulted 100 times – definitely not my own skill -:). Anyway, Mr. Tardiness did not want to pay the penalty and I did not like confrontation. So I removed him from our list. Maybe I should thank him for not paying – it would have been mathematically challenging for me to make the reimbursement fair.

The super bowl turned out to be pretty exciting .. but what’s more exciting .. someone is wearing a new ring. Wedding bell soon? O M G !!! Congratulations!!!

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