After finally being eligible for quad player status (the one of the two disability groups within wheelchair tennis with ”physically less agile” players), during the Doubles Masters in Amsterdam, I now attended my second international wheelchair tennis tournament.
The story of my protested non-Quad classification in Belgium, the subsequent formal appeal, and the, to some extent surpricingly self-evident re-classicification, is a long story in itself.
It’s sufficient to say that a few months of missed tournaments was worth it. I am now officially a ”Quad” player until further notice.
The indoor venue in Prague is quite something extra, as the hotel and the tennis courts are within one and the same complex. Good, if the weather is all but nice.
The singles draw started with a match against 3rd seed and ranked no. 17, the Brit Adam Field, serving hard and well. I had no chance. Look inwards and learn from the best… 🙂
In the doubles, I had no partner entering the tournament, but I teamed up with the Frenchman Alves. Just my luck, but we were drawn against fellow Swedes Hard & Jonsson (yes, yet again)… As it is now even closer to the Paralympics, our chances were slim, even on paper. However, we had three break points, and I produced a few nice killing shots. It is debatable whether we actually won a game, as the umpire(s) were (very) questionable, and me and Alves never expected a fair shot at many points, hence losing track of the score at apparently the wrong time. 😦
In the singles consolation tournament (first round losers), I had a really good theoretical shot at winning my first international game against Patrick Sappino from France. He seemed very slow, having trouble reaching for balls not aimed directly at him. He had a cunning twisted serve, but it didn’t seem impossible to tame.
I played quite well in the first set, focusing on secure and high serves (which he didn’t like), and trying to place the balls far at the back left and right alternatively. As I learned to handle most of his serves, the future looked promising, although I struggled a bit with keeping my strokes as relaxed and thorough as I had hoped for.
I started to feel confident that this game was do-able. Which I shouldn’t have, for obvious reasons. I turned afraid of placing the balls on either side of him in fear of striking out, and ended up placing them right where he wanted them. His experience and cool then took the better of me. I was humiliated, not reaching his well-placed returns in the ends and corners of the court. I lost 4-6, 1-6, and as a cocky school boy, I had to admit my lack of concentration, and learn from the fact that every game counts in tennis, and that strategic thinking cannot be over-estimated …
Focus on placement and the cunning use of my soon-to-be-feared forehand cross, was the lesson of the day. Had I won the game, I would have ended up in the consolation finals, due to a walk over, but all good things to those who learn patiently, I guess…
A very nice memory of this visit was the Charles Bridge (Karolus Most) at night, and a visit to a very nice local pub beneath stone arches of an old building. The Old Town in Prague is really awesome, in the true sense of the word.
All for now, over & out.