Plock, Poland – Final Game Day

Save the best for last…
Today I was up against my doubles partner Donskoy (RUS), in the consolation (first round losers) round-robin. I had my target set on his backhand using high topspins.
Sadly, he pushed hard to finish the points early on, and succeeded, as I was too kind to his forehand ”sweet-spot”. However, when down 0-3, I finally started playing the best strategic tennis during competition so far. I went up to 2-3 without losing a point. He redeemed himself in the next two games by serving really well (2-5), but I emerged once again with calm serves on his backhand, good movement, and high returns. So even though I eventually lost the set on a cunningly sliced backhand when I was expecting an attack, the four games with only one lost point, will stay with me…(4-6 in the first set). Second set offered a lot of nice rallies and some exciting advantage games, but my impatience punished me. I didn’t finish off lose serves calmly, but rather hit the returns too hard out off the court. 4-6, 0-6 all in all.
My helpful Indian friend/analyzer told me later at the stands, what many a coach have said, but what has had trouble sinking in, due to my lack of experience: keep the ball in play, keep it simple. The more you try to finish off a point, the higher risk you take, the more your timing is off, and the more misses you tend to make. Wait for the opportunities instead of trying to force them to emerge… I’m not there at that level yet. When you watch really good players, it becomes quite obvious; their confidence, and above all, their patience…
As I plan to play doubles with Mr Prabhu in six weeks time, this long rally confidence will be my focus until then. One step at a time, keep it simple…
Today also offered a nice sparring session (in the heat), with this tournament’s no. 1 seed Adam Field (thanks for helpful hints!), and a nice barbecue with everyone (apart from the winner Mr Cotterill who had leave early).
Dziekuje very much for this week, Poland! I learnt a lot…
All for now, over & out.


Plock, Poland – Game Day 3

Tougher, but better…
Today I was up against my new good friend from Bangalore, Boni Prabhu (IND). Was this tougher? He uses a fast power-chair with a joystick, and the surface is wet clay. You do the math..;-)
All kidding aside, I had to, and did move really well today. If he then returns most balls to the back of the court with topspins aimed at the stratosphere…Not much to do, really…;-)
I played some really nice points with stable serves to his backhand (for lack of the power I seem to have lost somewhere), moved OK, and had some crosses and saves in the corners. On the right track, again… A nice feeling.
Especially in the second set, despite the score.
I have to learn to close off my advantage points, though.. Otherwise the score turns out as it did, 1-6, 0-6.
Tomorrow I will play my last game here, a singles bout against my Russian doubles partner. He’s normally very stable too (as was Boni, the Indian), but it’ll be a good (practise) round with some long, relaxed rallies, I hope. Seeing it as practise, makes me relax, and enjoying it, makes me play better…
All for now, over & out!

Plock, Poland – Game Day 2

Oh my, oh my. Being nervous is one thing, but today my spastics/my disability really worked against me during the doubles with Konstantin Donskoy (RUS). I moved much better, but I still wanted to make too much out of the points, hence not relaxing my strokes as I know how, my muscles not helping out.
Two really great games though (one being my serves’ game) when we were down 2-5 to Jance/Tatschl (Fra/Aut). Some nice killer top-spins, and tough advantage game, but frankly too many mistakes on my part, where I just didn’t keep moving…
4-6, 2-6 was the score, where my ”unforced errors” were the deciders.
Practise to believe in your serves, and to stay calm no matter what, seems to be the word(s) of the day.
Some good game practise this week, to save for later, though. I also have two consolation games tomorrow and on Friday (first round losers battling it out). Perhaps, some additional pointers there. I’m still learning a lot…
A bit disappointed in myself right now, but it’ll pass…
All for now, over & out.

Plock, Poland – Game Day 1

Rain and clay don’t go that well together. Just some drizzle today, so the games were on, but oh my, were the courts wet… 😦
The wheelchair felt like a truck, pushing it around. I tried to stick to my tactics, but being pressed for time without the movement, my strokes were too often just too short or not even close, to be honest.. Too many misses (as I was out-of-position), and too many loose serves. In short, I didn’t deserve to win (many points).
A bad day outside the office.. 🙂
1-6, 2-6 was the score.
Lesson of the day: Focus on the good stuff: two really great games, two excellent aces, a killer volley, and some killer returns when just placing my returns in the opposite corner.
Well, a tough doubles game awaits tomorrow. I will play better I’m sure. My game is there somewhere, not too far away, if I stay relaxed..
All for now, over & out.

Plock, Poland 2012 – Draw day

I arrived today around noon to Warsaw. The usually dismembered tennis wheelchair was in one piece for once..:-)
A two-hour highway drive really tested one’s beliefs in Polish construction engineering. The roads seemingly had built-in speed bumps. Scary…
Sadly two Polish guys didn’t show up for the tournament, so the doubles won’t be counted for much (we are just a few already). The singles however, will be fun… Given that last week’s cold is kept at bay. The plan is a first round played on clay (!), against my good friend Sébastien Jance (FRA). Funny enough, I did the draw. A sign? 😉
He plays well and is aggressive, being ranked #34 in the world, last I checked. Last time we met, I managed to win one set, although neither using volleys nor slices, which I now have practised quite a lot. So.. if my body stays in shape, without any rain coming down us, I should at least be able to put up a good fight. Wish me luck!
Nighty, night!
Over & out.