Monday, May 21, 2007
For Tennis Fans
These past few days, the University of Georgia has been hosting the men's and women's NCAA tennis championships. Athens has proven to be, by far, the most successful location for this tournament for the past 30 years. The beautiful Henry Field tennis stadium, the enthusiastic community support, the indominable Dan Magill, and UGA fans (5 to 6 thousand of them) have combined to make this one of the best and well run operations in all of collegiate athletics.
The Lady Dawgs bowed out of the quarterfinals last night to an underdog Cal Bears team that really played well. The Bears will meet Georgia Tech in the semis tommorow. Tech Coach Bryan Shelton has really built a nice program over on the Flats. They have yet to reach the heights of their Lady Dawgs counterparts. But a very nice rivalry is brewing. I like Shelton a lot and respect him a great deal. I can remember seeing him play Connors at Wimbledon in the late 80's. Tech's very lucky that this prodigal son came back to work for his alma mater.
The UGA men's team is in semifinal action right now vs. the University of Virginia. UVA is one of the few teams to have tested the Dawgs this year, as UGA went undefeated for a second regular season in a row.
For those of us who are stuck elsewhere, you can watch the matches live via the internet. Here's a link to live action going on as I type.
With the recent changes in my personal life, I have reached back into my childhood and started playing tennis again. I haven't played a match other than for fun since 1991. Work, life, and higher priorities are my excuses for only playing around 5 singles matches and maybe 15 doubles matches in the last 16 years.
That is until this April. I started playing with a very competitive guy, Chris, that has a nice game. He's also a fitness fanatic as he constantly breaks his personal records for things like most situps (3,420) in one day and miles ridden on a bike (163.5). He's actually better than I am, and definitely more fit. But I'm making some improvements in both areas.
Yesterday we played our 5th match vs. one another and I finally got a set off of him in a 3 out of 5 match. As is usual so far, I'm good for about one good set (usually the 2nd set) against him. But since its warmed up I've been tiring faster than he in the heat. I think we must have played about 2.5 hours yesterday with one long break to change courts.
We started out playing at the intramural courts on the UGA campus. But, after a set and a half, we yielded to the very polite womens coach at Vanderbilt University as our guests, who needed our court for his players to warm up. We wished him well and his players, and went to a different location.
The break must have bothered Chris, because I was able to take the momentum in our new surroundings and win the 2nd set in a tie breaker. Unforunately, I was a little too satisfied with my accomplishment and played very loose to start the 3rd. By the time I got back to playing decently, I couldn't win the big points. I led either 30-0 or 40-0 in FOUR consecutive service games only to lose all of them. And in my last gasp in the 4th set, I came back from 40-0 down on his serve to gain 3 different break point chances only to lose that game too. My goose was cooked, and so was my head in the mid day sun without a hat.
Maybe ole Steve needs to get me back into the gym and train me. And then I need my friend Jeff from Chicago to get down here and groove my strokes and help me with tactics. Because Chris, you're definitely kicking my ass! But it's been fun. Well done.