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Fall 2002 LMRA Tennis League
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In 2001, I really started getting into tennis again, and I was looking around Fort Worth for some opportunities to play competitively. I live in southwest Fort Worth, and Lockheed Martin has a huge recreational facility right up the road. They've got it all: golf course, softball fields, soccer fields, ballrooms, Olympic swimming pool, 20-foot diving boards, and of course, tennis courts! And there are just enough people at Lockheed who like tennis for them to organize spring and fall leagues. I don't work there, but anyone can play for a price. Surprisingly, it's not much more than Lockheed employees have to pay. This fall was my third time in the league, and again there was a whole slew of new opponents. My buddy Alan from work joined me again in the 3.5 division.

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Paul Nguyen
L: 6-1, 7-6(2)
Alan Sneary
W: 6-4, 2-6, 6-4
Scott McGarrah
W: 6-1, 6-0
Jim Anderson
L: 6-2, 6-1
Young Choi
L: 7-6(2), 6-2
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8
Week 9
Week 10
Don Coulter
W: 6-2, 6-3
Yakin Choi
L: 6-4, 3-6, 6-3
James Weaver
L: 6-1, 6-3
Bradford Brown
W: withdrawn
Kola Adegbola
L: 6-2, 6-0

The following match summaries are in chronological order, from left to right.
Be sure to see the player chart at the bottom of the page.

Week 3 - McGarrah
10/3/02 - Win: 6-1, 6-0
Yeah, it's week 3 of my fall tennis league, but due to a scheduling faux pas on the part of our league director, we all started out 2 weeks behind. So this was my first match. I wasn't sure what to expect from my opponent. He was about 50 pounds overweight, but otherwise appeared in good health. I have learned from these leagues that it doesn't seem to matter how old you are or how much you weigh when it comes to tennis. Anyone can play well. But tonight was my night for once, and my opponent just happened to make a lot more errors. I seemed to have decent control of the ball, and my serves weren't too bad (only one double fault). So, a great way to open the league, and hopefully I will be able to build on this win.

Week 2 - Sneary
10/9/02 and 10/15/02 - Win: 6-4, 2-6, 6-4
The two dates are the result of the long match, and us running out of time at the courts the first time around. Hard to believe, but my opponent was none other than the formidable Alan, who owned me with a 4-0 record in meaningful matches coming into this match. I came out of the box pretty fired up that first night, and nearly won the first set 6-1. But something started bugging me at 5-1, and I was not feeling particularly well. It was chilly and misting outside, but I don't think that was bothering me. I think I'm really lucky that we ran out of time, because Alan was up 5-2 in the second set and I was falling apart. On the second night we both started out playing rather defensively, and Alan simply made more unforced errors than I did. I could have easily lost this one, though, because Alan was up 4-3 in the third set. But somehow I dug deep and forced myself to keep the negative part of my brain from taking control. That's something I definitely need to do more often!

Week 5 - Young Choi
10/22/02 - Loss: 7-6(2), 6-2
For a while I thought that I really didn't like to play at night. The lights tend to really distract me. But you know, if I just control the ball and keep the damn thing from going too high and making me look at the lights, I'm OK! I've noticed that I can see the ball better, and (duh) the sun is never a factor. Plus I've tried to get myself to focus by listening to the chirping of the crickets. Hey, it works! If I can get my brain to shut up, I play better. The crickets help me to drown out my inner noise. I came out firing in this match, surprising because my opponent was pretty good. The first set just took too long. It was about 9:30 pm when we started the second set. Truly, I just got bored. Strange, I know. But I didn't really feel like playing anymore, so I tried doing some different things. That led to few points, so you see I lost the second set pretty quickly. But that's OK, I had fun!

Week 6 - Coulter
11/16/02 - Win: 6-2, 6-3
Leave it to me to beat a guy on his birthday. Oh well! You take the wins when you can get them. It was a chilly, sunny morning, almost perfect for tennis. I have been playing pretty well recently, for some reason. I think laying off the lessons for a while has helped. It's given me some time and space to work on the fundamentals that I've learned. I'm still doing a lot of things wrong, but at least I'm having fun playing again. The key to this match was minimal mistakes on my part, and few blown serves. Only 2 or 3 doubles the whole match. This was a very decent win.

Week 8 - Weaver
11/26/02 - Loss: 6-1, 6-3
I played this guy in last spring's league. He has definitely improved his game. I suppose I have too, but the score doesn't really show it. Others in the league told me that a staple of this guy's game is to drop shot you to death. Well, it didn't work to well against me, because I can usually chase down any ball. I got a good laugh because of the many times I was able to get to a ball that I'm sure most of his previous older opponents often gave up on. He kept saying, "you've got to be kidding me". Hey, all I have is my youth and speed, so I better take advantage of them. If only I had the skills and court presence to go with them. But I had 3 wins this season, one more than the last, so that is improvement!
Week 1 - Nguyen
10/5/02 - Loss: 6-1, 7-6(2)
Well, the high from my first win in the league has definitely wore off! I think when I first started this match, I began to underestimate my opponent. Then I got a little lazy, and my shots were all way too soft. He took advantage of my short balls, and usually slammed them at corner angles where I couldn't get to them. Somehow I battled back in the second set though, as he was up 5-4 - then I got to 6-5, serving for the set, but blew it. And I totally tightened up in the tie-break. Ooh, this one kind of burns, because I feel like I really could have won if I had taken that second set. Argh! Another day...

Week 4 - Anderson
10/12/02 - Loss: 6-2, 6-1
You know, I really ought to try harder to at least give myself a chance to win these matches. Around what does my whining revolve this time? Various things. I had been up since 6 am this day, and hadn't slept very well the night before. Also, I had eaten probably 600 calories worth of food in the 18 hour period before my match. That is no where near enough to sustain this kind of activity. To top it all off, I thought that I could handle warming up with about a half hour of practice before the match. That might have worked, had it not felt like 95 degrees on the court. So I was damn near exhausted by the time the second set began. My opponent was over 50, but my endurance sucks. And since we were playing at 2 pm, the sun was in a lovely position to blind me every time I served from one side of the court. I had no confidence in my serve, and my subsequent play followed suit. Honestly, I'm surprised I won 3 games in this match.

Week 7 - Yakin Choi
11/7/02 and 11/9/02 - Loss: 6-4, 3-6, 6-3
My opponent for this match was the son of the guy I played in week 5. It's a family affair for these guys, as the mom also plays in one of the other leagues. The dad is definitely the better player, as he has good control on most of his shots and doesn't make a whole lot of mistakes. But the kid, he makes TONS of mistakes. He hits the ball with incredible pace, but more often than not it goes out of bounds. I had to duck a couple times because the ball was coming at me so fast -- headed for the back wall, of course. As for his serves, if he got the first one in, it would usually end up his point. But his second serves were ridiculously weak, and many times I was able to attack them. This match had to be played on two different days, with the break at 4-3 in the third set, he being up. In the end, I guess I just didn't capitalize enough on his mistakes, and let him get the best of me. But it was a fun match anyway.

Week 10 - Adegbola
11/20/02 - Loss: 6-2, 6-0
This loss isn't really surprising. I have played this guy a few times over the summer, and I knew what he could bring to the table. I knew that the only chance I had would be to come out firing. And I did - I was up 2-1 in the first set. But the guy is good. He recognized that I was better than when last we met, so he turned his game up a notch. That was something I had no chance of overcoming. He has a very good serve, and can compete from anywhere on the court. I think I honestly just gave up early in the second set, because I simply could make no headway. Everything I hit, he got back. Worse, he usually set up shots so that I was out of position, and then proceeded to take advantage of my flailing. But good players do that. I have little doubt that he'll be moved up to the next level next spring.

I ranked all the people I played on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best this 3.5 division had to offer. This is based on my results and how others in the league told me they played against each other. Clearly I had some good competition!

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