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Summer 2002

Check out pictures from the Sampras/Roddick charity match

Dallas Labor Day Open
August 31 - September 2, 2002 - Dallas, TX

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8/31/02 - Loss: 6-3, 6-0
Well, a week after my double-bagel performance in Mansfield. I figured I had hit bottom so there was no where to go but up. I was not nearly as nervous before this match as usual, as I think I'm succeeding in convincing myself to just have fun and use these matches as opportunities for practice. I had a few good serves today (not that the rest were bad, just nothing to really care about), and I had a couple of really good offensive shots. My opponent kept coming to the net, so I burned him repeatedly in the first set with some well-placed lobs. Then I got greedy with my forehand and tried to implement some things I'd learned in lessons, and I got kind of ugly with a lot of unforced errors. I think if I could just find a groove, figure out exactly what my game is, then I could have a lot more success.
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9/1/02 - Loss: 6-0, 6-2
This was a match in which I can truly say I was up against a better opponent. His serves were pretty fast, and I had a heck of a time just returning them. In stark contrast were my serves. I must have double-faulted like 7 or 8 times, and on the times I didn't double, the serve was pretty sad. The fact that I was playing a guy with very decent talent in the consolation round says a lot about the 3.0 competition level. Since I started taking lessons in mid-July, I've had my head filled with all sorts of things. Of course they are good things, but that just gives my brain more ammo to mess up what my body needs to do. So these matches are works in progress. Everything must be a learning experience. To that end, I did do a few good things with my ground strokes today that I have learned from lessons, so all is not lost. It's a good thing I love playing so much. A less-interested player would probably give up by now.

Walnut Creek Summer Sizzler
August 23-25, 2002 - Mansfield, TX

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8/24/02 - Loss: 6-3, 6-3
On to the consolation round. What a whip. Alan and I play each other fairly frequently, and what happens. We each lose in the first round and then have to play each other in the consolation bracket. You know, we could have done this for free. Instead we paid $20 apiece to have the honor of driving out to Mansfield to play each other in 100 degree heat at 12:30 in the afternoon for 2 hours. Like I said, what a whip. But about the match... Again, not a really good one for me. My apprehension about using the skills I'm learning in my lessons is truly troubling. It's like I have this tether attached to me that won't let me break out of my preschool tennis habits and try to actually play like I'm supposed to. I did fairly well just staying in the game today, as we had a few deuce games that must have gone on for 20 minutes each. But I didn't even try to go to the net, and every shot I made was a "safe" shot, nothing with any power. So, it's back to the drawing board. I've got to exorcise these mental demons, so that I can get ugly Shannon off the court and let myself play real tennis.

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8/23/02 - Loss: 6-0, 6-0
I can't even begin to explain how big of an ass-whip this match was. This guy had his family there watching him, so maybe there was some subconscious thing going on in my head, like, "oh, you don't want his little daughter to feel all bad for her daddy." I wish I was more like, "beat this guy into unconsciousness and let his family drag his ass off the court." OK, maybe not that violent. But I certainly need a different mental approach and attitude. Anyway, I predict this guy will lose in the next round almost as badly as I lost here. (Note: he lost his next match in a 3rd set tiebreak, so maybe he wasn't as bad I thought he was.) But my problem was that I could not shake the nerves thru 4 games, and ugly Shannon took over. Wimpy forehand, stupid backhand, sorry serves. Tomorrow I have to play my buddy Alan in the consolation bracket. Let's hope I leave my mental baggage at home and actually try to play some tennis this time.

July 26-28, 2002 - Hurst, TX

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Well, my first tournament! It was really a lot of fun. My first match was supposed to be on a Friday night, but my opponent didn't show up, so a nice bye moved me thru to the quarterfinals and a Saturday morning match. Of course, that just had to be the hottest day of the summer at that point, but I made it through. My opponent was an OK player, but I found a way to take advantage of his trepidation at the baseline. We went to a 3rd-set 10-point super tie-break after I won the first set 6-3 and then let him come back and win the second set 6-4. I won the grueling tie-break 10-7. My first win! Cool!! The next day's semifinal match did not go so well however. The match started at 8 am, and that is a difficult time to play if you're not even used to getting to work until around 8:30 am. So I probably wasn't very sharp. I basically let myself get pushed around by someone's grandpa. The guy may have been old, but he was deftly consistent. His serves were truly a joke, and yet I couldn't make him pay for them. Way too many unforced errors on my part let him roll to a 6-1, 6-1 victory. The tournament didn't go as well as I would have liked, but for a first time, it wasn't too bad.
Pictures from the Hurst Open
These are from my second match, in the semifinals.

Because I'm a cheapskate, I cut financial corners by buying cheap rackets. When I hit against the ball machine, I let loose on those tennis balls. The result? Broken strings. This was the first racket I sidelined. Then a month later, I broke the strings on another one. That was two days before my Mansfield tournament. So now I have a third crappy racket, just waiting for me to break its strings. Yes, I am finally going to save up for a good racket...

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