Tennis Prose



Doubles Match Heats Up!

Longboat Key Public Tennis Center hosts an afternoon of doubles every Tuesday, called the BOB, short for Best of the Best players of the Longboat Key area, who are invited each week.

Today I played with Scott, we rolled to the finals to play this guy Willie and Fred. Good match-up, Willie plays nationals, fundamentally and technically strong player, very good serve. Fred is no chump and also uses a Head Speed Pro and my partner Scott is a solid 4.5.

We broke Willie in the first game. He’s a strong player, played Division 1 college tennis and coached in college too. But on the break point I exchanged with him and forced the error off a deep ball.

At the change he commented I didn’t hit with much pace but the wind was helping my shots and he couldn’t judge them. Thinking he might have been passive aggressively jabbing me I replied, I was using no pace “by design.” He chuckled. My antennae were up though.

We jumped ahead 3-1. The next jab was another soft one. After another high quality point which we won based on my defending, he commented, “Good job retrieving.” I wasn’t offended. We have a guy in NJ who always says that in frustration after he loses a point because the opponent played great defense: “Good retreiving.” Let the losing player vent, it’s acceptable.

Another point of note. My partner Scott lunged for a volley that went over the side fence and over the trees. Willie went and got it. When he returned to the court after about 30 seconds with the ball, I joked, “Can I call you a retreiver?”

He smiled again.

On the changeover, he said directly to me with a sporting smile, “You should see me play singles.”

The interpretation being, “I’m much better in singles than this silly doubles. I heard about you, but I will beat you in singles.” I replied quickly, “I would love to see you play singles – from the other side of the net.”

He had no comeback to that. I did give him my card a month ago at the Longboat Key Observer Challenge Cup Open division tournament we won, beating his team in the final. But he never asked to play me in singles.

Suddenly it was 3-3. Four quality players, six high quality games. At 15-all with Fred serving I lined up at the tee, one foot on my side, one on the returner’s side, behind the box, not in it. I do this in a close doubles match, to squeeze the server to serve to my partner’s forehand. It’s legal. The non returning doubles player can stand anywhere in the court, even smack in the middle of the returner’s box if he chooses, running the risk of being hit and losing the point. That is the rule.

Suddenly Willie yells out, “That’s a dick move.”

Stunned my his poor language and sportsmanship, I pause and then reply I can stand anywhere I want, that is the rules.

He didn’t like the move, adding that this was not a tournament. I should not be so serious, this was just for fun. Me: The rules are the rules, just deal with the rules. No reason to cry like a big baby about, just play and deal with it.

So obviously it got heated from that. I play better with tension in the air. I stifled a couple of Cmons and squeezed my fist after key points won. We forged ahead 4-3 but they leveled it 4-4. Now it was my turn to serve and close it out.

Before serving I declared to the opponents, “Go ahead and stand wherever you want, it doesn’t bother me where you stand.”

Willie whined again to tone down the testosterone. I replied, “If you’re done okay, I’m done. If you want to keep it going, I will too.” I guess we all made a mutual pact to just play tennis from then on. Willie’s partner Fred never said a word the whole set, neither did my guy Scott. It was just between me and Willie.

I can’t remember any of the points, all were quality and competitive but I finally finished it at 30. 5-4. We all shook hands and the winner’s won a can of Wilson balls each.

No other jabs were launched and we all departed on I presume good terms.

So readers, who was wrong, who was right? Any comments welcome…


  • Jon King · February 25, 2020 at 7:25 pm

    No right or wrong, he took mild verbal swipes, you responded with some mild gamesmanship. Just competitive dudes being dudes. A bit dickish on both sides, but hey, we are guys and thats kind of what we do sometimes.

    The main thing is how it ended, everyone moved on.

  • Mike onello · February 25, 2020 at 11:54 pm

    Way to go scoop…!

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 26, 2020 at 10:14 pm

    Agree Jon, it was nothing really. But everybody on the other courts stayed to watch. Might as well give em something to talk about 🙂 What I’m finding interesting is this is the second time one of the very best senior players down here tried to get in my head with verbal provocation. Both times they realized they got a lot more than they bargained for.

  • Scoop Malinowski · February 26, 2020 at 10:16 pm

    Thanks Mike. For expert diet and nutrition information, please check out Mike’s instagram account @Mikewakethefoodup



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