Apr/20

27

Two Sets Vs A WTA Pro

With one public park open in Bradenton and Sarasota and two main hitting partners both afraid to play because of fear of virus and fear of being arrested, I am starving to play some real tennis instead of hitting on a wall or driving over an hour to Tampa where a friend plays at open Compton Park.

To the rescue came a WTA ranked pro who is training regularly at the unlocked Bradenton courts. She agreed to play me two sets for $20 each if she wins.

I jumped at the deal despite the fact I have not played a real match against a tough player in a month. My last match was a 62 61 win vs. a 5.0 at Gillespie Park in Sarasota which has since been locked. I felt at my best that day, saving so many break points and game points and making the scoreline look like a blowout though it really was a tough battle. Since then it’s just been pick up hits and wall hits .

Anastasia is 17 and ranked 845 in the world from having earned WTA points in Cancun last year. We played a ten point tiebreak last week as the price for me giving up my court, she prevailed 10-4.

But this time I had my favorite racquet the Head Speed Pro, not the less maneuverable Yonex ezone.

In the warm up I hit two backhands into the middle of the net, which never happens when I’m match tough. But now everything is off. And Nastia’s shots are pro shots so it made it even harder to get a rhythm and rebuild confidence.

She took a 3-0 lead quickly and easily. I tried feeling her out and just keep the ball deep and hope for errors but that tactic failed miserably. Her groundstrokes are too solid, too consistent. She hits almost daily with her father Andrei Cherkasov, a former ATP champion.

My backhand could not cause her any trouble at all, no matter how deep I put it or wide, she teed off on my backhand feeds and either hit a winner up the line or just beat me up until the error.

6-0 in about 19 minutes. She broke me again to start the second set but I started to hit my forehands harder and they started to do damage. I broke her for 1-1. I had a break point in the next game but failed and was broken again. My serve was ineffective though I did hit a few good ones which she returned long or side. Maybe three tops. But I noticed clearly her returns were eating up my serve.

My only success came from blasting forehands about as hard I could hit, inside out forehands or cross court from an acute angle. I still remember controlling the middle of the court and setting up, loading, and unleashing three inside out forehands in a row with the last one being clean winner. I won two points like that in the second set. That felt really good. And if anyone on the adjacent courts saw them, they knew I wasn’t just some clown enduring a one-sided shellacking.

I tried to will myself on with some cmon roars and I was feeling ready to take over the match but those dreams were futile fantasies.

Another rare highlight in this beatdown was ripping forehand cross court returns like Djokovic vs Federer that she got to but netted up the line, missing by an inch or two. I won about two points this way.

I also hit two inside our forehand return winners late in the second set, shots I rarely try against lesser opponents because I’m not desperate but one good thing about this experience is I now know I have that shot and will use it more.

When you’re getting killed you savor the highlight moments with extra appreciation. Those big shots erase the memory of blowing some game points in the second set to actually make it a competitive set. 6-3 or 6-2 I’m not even sure what it was. Big shots help you forget all the stupid misses you made on pretty much neutral balls.

Oh, the positive memories are coming back now. I won two points from drop shots from my backhand. One in each set. Not easy to do that off of pro shots. Those were the only two backhands I hit to win any points the entire match. My backhand was like a feed ball for her. She never missed any. She never missed a passing shot either. I don’t remember hitting one good volley in the two sets. And I’m known down here for my volleys.

Anastasia, who plays with a green and black Dunlop, has all the shots, she doesn’t miss volleys, I didn’t make her hit any overheads. Her serve is okay, it can be better. I once played the since retired Michelle Larcher De Brito when she was 240 in the world, a couple of years after she beat Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon – she beat me 6-1 though I had a break point for 5-2 in the set – and the difference between Michelle and Anastasia is minimal or nothing.

After we finished, her mom noted my forehand return winner from ad court to save match point and offered that she thinks I can do better next time.

Kata admitted her daughter was surprised by some of my forehands but I also confessed it was partly due to her mentally falling asleep too because she was winning so easily. And Kata brought up the memory that when she was trying to go pro she would play one of her sponsors who was a rec player and she would play from love-40 down each game, which is a good way to force a player to be mentally concentrated on every point, every ball, instead of thinking a shot or two ahead. If she won the match from love-40 down, the sponsor would pay for the next travel expenses, if Kata lost, she had to pay him a sum.

I felt there was enough respect to do this again, but the rematch may have to wait because I got Anastasia into the Harry Cicma International Tennis Series women’s series which will begin on May 4 at Saddlebrook and will continue for sixteen weeks. The format there will be like Cicma’s Bradenton men’s series, three or four matches a day, sets to four, three or four times a week, $500 per week. Any women or girl with a WTA ranking can play.

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120 comments

  • catherine · May 5, 2020 at 4:14 am

    Oh I give up now. All recent comments have disappeared.
    T-P has blitzed me.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 5, 2020 at 6:04 am

    I believe There is no white supremacy other than fake creations. I never met a ws. White nations were founded by whites not white supremacists. Kkk was actually created by democrats. Agent provocateurs. Clever scams to demonize whites. If there really are any white, black, Jewish, or Asian supremacist groups they should be denounced and destroyed. Beware of agent provocateurs.

  • Jon King · May 5, 2020 at 8:41 am

    Scoop, lets review how marginalized whites are, and white men are. White men are 31% of the US population….yet….

    Almost all of CEOs of Fortune 500 corporations are white men, every Republican Senator is white, almost all white men. Almost every Republican congressperson is a white man. American billionaires are almost all white men. Conservatives decide the Supreme Court decisions, 53 white Republican Senators represent a minority of the overall population, the popular vote goes for Democrats yet republicans retain power.

    31% of the US population controls most of the power. Wow, such oppression. Hard to believe how hard white guys and conservatives have had things.

    White men are very lucky things are so stacked in their favor in the US. They should only have 31% of the power instead of the high percentage they have.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 5, 2020 at 8:55 am

    Jon your anti white propaganda bores me. Why don’t the overlords force diversity on Japan China Israel south America Arabia? Why must only white nations be forced to absorb forced diversity? Forced diversity is not natural.

  • catherine · May 5, 2020 at 10:12 am

  • catherine · May 5, 2020 at 1:57 pm

    Everyone’s ranting and I’m posting (when it shows up) some stuff about tennis – like I’ve strayed in from another planet.

  • Andrew Miller · May 5, 2020 at 6:14 pm

    Scoop, thanks for expressing that. I personally do not believe there’s ever a bad time for decency. I understand how tempting it can be to yield to large and exciting issues, and how tempting it is to say well this is way too important to overlook, this over here is too important not to discuss, etc. But they are all shiny objects that a year from now will not end up mattering more than the memory of a player’s drop shot.

    I say personally I have seen many and myself lose countless hours to stupid things and dumb arguments. But that doesn’t advance the sport much. It’s been an enormous distraction from everyone’s love for the sport.

    There are some real and worthy subjects for tennis prose, could even explore the rise of the kids of past tennis pros, who for some reason seem to be all over the tour these days. That could lead to some interesting comments about whether tennis is about nature or nurture or somewhere in between.

    I just recommend taking stock. The site killed itself. I’d recommend a relaunch of TP. Kill the comments section for a while. Figure out if love for the game is deeper and bigger than obsession with things that don’t care about the sport. I’m sure others have other opinions and I’m grateful for it. But sometimes things need a re-do so that they’re in a better place.

    There will always be a need for better stories about tennis and more insight into the sport especially as players hide behind images and as newspapers gut their sports departments. There will always be a need to dig deeper into a sport where there’s so much more than the scorelines and that’s so idiosyncratic.

    Anyways I am sorry again to be at what I believe is the burial of what was once a treasure and a credit to the game. The site’s authors including Dan and Scoop were like heirs to Bud Collins and his legacy. But three years can do a lot and it did. I hope there is some kind of loyalty to the game rather than the passions of the moment.

    I’d hope better writers such as Leif find a way to weigh in. I’ll never convince Scoop to set aside a love of U.S. politics and, apparently, culture wars (I’ll not add more here). But I really do hope that like a good captain, Scoop and others decide that to save the crew something’s gotta give. There are no more life preservers any more here in the comments section and precious little to savor. So it’s in your hands. I hope that everyone chooses wisely. It’s either tennis or the madness. I hope in this battle, tennis somehow wins, but if not, good luck.

    Take care everyone.

  • catherine · May 6, 2020 at 1:41 am

    This site is one which depends a great deal on an active tournament circuit to keep the narrative going. In the absence of that, which will continue for the rest of the year in my view, it’ll cater for a small audience. And that’s ok. But I always believed the potential could be greater. Small sites have problems, technical and otherwise. I’m still surprised that the range of decent tennis forums is so limited. Maybe that’s a reflection of the true interest in the game beyond fandom.

    On a personal note, I’ve asked again and again why my comments are not showing up when they are posted and I’ve had no response from Scoop. So naturally I’m losing my own commitment to T-P. But times change I suppose, and people with them.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 6, 2020 at 7:07 am

    Catherine, I’m not finding any lost comments in spam or trash. So not sure what is happening. I did delete a couple redundant comments but that’s it. I also deleted comments by crazy Harold who can’t handle freedom of speech or thought that differs from his own. You wont have to endure the crazed rantings of Harold the nazi anymore. Fine guy regarding tennis but a political wingnut.

  • catherine · May 6, 2020 at 9:43 am

    Scoop – I discovered my comment above did actually appear as normal so I’m hoping this one does too. The comments do all appear but only after someone else has posted or something like that. The one above came up after Harold’s was deleted. I read, but don’t take particular notice, of various posts here. I’ve read a lot worse in my life.

    Let’s hope things sort themselves out in the future.

  • catherine · May 6, 2020 at 9:48 am

    No – I’ll come back from time to time and just hope my comments get triggered to appear somehow. I asked a tech guy but he doesn’t seem to know – maybe you have tech support ? Might be my server – I wouldn’t know.

  • catherine · May 6, 2020 at 10:05 am

    My comment might turn up in a few hours. We’ll see.It’s still in the system but for some reason T-P doesn’t recognise me. Computers…..

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 6, 2020 at 12:42 pm

    Yes I have a guy who does the technical fixings when needed, he’s been a blessing. Because as you well know things have gone wrong here tech wise on occasion but for the most part the site runs smoothly.

  • Sam · May 7, 2020 at 7:25 pm

    “Catherine, I’m not finding any lost comments in spam or trash. So not sure what is happening.”

    Scoop, I’ve definitely been seeing the stuff that Catherine’s been mentioning. The last time I posted, I saw comments strangely a) not appearing, b) disappearing, and c) reappearing. 🙂

    I think that, as Catherine has been advised by the tech guys she’s been talking to, there is (or at least has been) some problem on the server end. Like her, I’ve also been using Firefox, but I don’t know if that really has anything to do with it.

    Sorry about your “friend” Harold.

  • Sam · May 7, 2020 at 7:37 pm

    Oh, just a quick comment about the “white supremacy” stuff. My first high school principal seemed to have some seriously racist attitudes. When I was a freshman in high school, I was good friends with a black girl in my homeroom. Anyway, one day before classes started, I innocently had my arm around her in the hall near our lockers. Maybe she did the same–I don’t remember. Anyway, the principal knew my father, and later on he said to him, “How’s that nig***-lovin’ son of yours???” I was shocked, as was my father.

    Anyway, my principal may not have been an actual white supremacist, but he obviously had some serious issues with regard to black people. However, that’s the only adult I can think of from my past with such disturbing attitudes.

    Concerning tennis, I thought it’s interesting that Tiley is saying the Australian Open might not even happen. Well, isn’t that kinda jumping the gun? 😉

  • Sam · May 7, 2020 at 7:47 pm

    Andrew wrote: “That could lead to some interesting comments about whether tennis is about nature or nurture or somewhere in between.”

    That definitely sounds like an interesting topic.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 8, 2020 at 7:58 am

    Tennis is a combination of extreme athleticism, infinite repetition to perfect and very careful meticulous guidance and support. Christian Ruud’s son made it in pro tennis, McEnroe’s did not even knock on the door (he did go to Bollettieri academy). Nature vs nurture is an endless debate.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 8, 2020 at 8:01 am

    Sam your principal made a wrong comment and today he’d be fired for it. I wonder what life experiences he had to provoke him to make such a crude rude bad comment. Two sides to every story. Not saying he has an acceptable excuse but I’d like to hear his reasoning defense if he had any. Maybe his family was a victim to black on white crime, who knows.

  • catherine · May 8, 2020 at 8:33 am

    I meant ‘gremlins’ and my comments showed up after about 2 hrs. So I’ll be content with that : )

  • Sam · May 8, 2020 at 7:36 pm

    “Sam your principal made a wrong comment and today he’d be fired for it.”

    Scoop, well, the problem would be proving that he said it. He would obviously have denied it. Not that I would’ve wanted to report him anyway, because otherwise he was a popular principal and very likable. Incidentally, he left the very next year to become a superintendent in another county, I believe. And then the next principal we got never even showed a hint of racism.

    I never told my black friend Rosalyn what he said either. She would’ve been stunned.

    “Not saying he has an acceptable excuse but I’d like to hear his reasoning defense if he had any. Maybe his family was a victim to black on white crime, who knows.”

    That’s true—we don’t know his background. As you said, that’s not an acceptable excuse, but it might at least help us understand him better. Anyway, he passed away 10 years ago, so the point is kind of moot now. Thankfully, I never saw this kind of racism demonstrated by any other adults.

    “Tennis is a combination of extreme athleticism, infinite repetition to perfect and very careful meticulous guidance and support. Christian Ruud’s son made it in pro tennis, McEnroe’s did not even knock on the door (he did go to Bollettieri academy). Nature vs nurture is an endless debate.”

    Yes, it’s certainly a rich topic. To reach the very top, you obviously have to start very young, but at the same time you have to have innate ability and great coaching as well. In terms of tennis results, what separated, say, Chris Evert and her siblings, and Djokovic and his brothers? Was it mostly genetics? My guess is yes.

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