Pine Ridge Open 2009

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“Nate lets go!” My dad yelled from across the school parking lot. I raced from the school doors and jumped into the car. We were going to a tennis tournament at Pine Ridge Racquet Club in Fort Wayne. I was pretty sure I could win the entire tournament or at least get in the top five. (Mostly because I thought I was going to be the oldest player.) Dad, Mom, my brother Matt, my cousin John and I all crammed into our little Honda Civic. We were already going to be late, and to make things worse I had to change clothes in the back seat of that stupid little Chinese car.

We soon arrived at Pine Ridge. The massive building slowly came into view. The entire structure housed seven tennis courts, locker rooms, a weight room and a smoothie stand, plus a viewing area and business offices. As we rolled up to the front doors I hopped out of the car. I was shaking, partly from nerves, and partly from the rush to get there. I walked into the building and went upstairs to the viewing area. There I met the worse case scenario for the first round of a tournament. He is a freshman in Carleton High School and about six months older than me. All of my nerves suddenly left me and in their place came fear and disappointment. I had already played him in a tournament at a nearby school that summer, and got all but demolished.

“Court four guys!” said the tournament director. We walked down to court four and the beating commenced. We set our gear down and started to warm up. I was still shaking terribly. My hands jittered and I was already having trouble breathing. (A few puffs from my inhaler fixed that.) Then we started.

I served first. Holding the ball in the yoke of my racquet, I started my service motion. The ball and the racquet parted, my left hand rising to toss the ball and my right hand dropping below my knee and then rocketing upward as I jumped up to meet the ball. The ball fired across the net and hit deep inside the service box. Then with a quick reaction, he blocked the ball back in defense. It landed softly in the center of the court. Sprinting up to the ball, I transferred all of my forward energy into the small yellow orb, ripping it to the open side of the court, a perfect textbook point. But, unfortunately for me, the rest of the match did not go so well. My forehands slowly got worse, In fact, it got to the point that I had to run around my forehand to hit a backhand in order to get the ball in. I put up a good fight but in the end I lost, 4-6 3-6. My hopes of winning the tournament were quickly dashed, but I was confident I could win the consolation draw. I was soon prepared to play my next match the next day at 6:00 p.m.

At 5:50, we arrived at Pine Ridge. Thankfully I was not shaking this time, most likely because I was not in a rush to get there and I knew what to expect. I met my opponent about five minutes later. He was about an entire foot shorter than me and wore white shorts and a red shirt. His high squeaky voice was already starting to annoy me. This should be an easy win, I thought. We were sent down to court one and began warm- ups. He served first and won his first game. I responded with a hold of my serve and a break of his. We battled back and fourth, had some long exhausting points, and soon came to an even, six all. That meant that we had to go into a tiebreaker to decide the first set. I won the tiebreaker with ease and took the first set 7-6. In the first set I noticed that the other kid had made some questionable line calls.

In the second set I got off to an early 5-2 lead and was serving for the match. This time I was certain I was going to win, but I soon found my self in a 0-40 hole and decided to give him this game and wait for my next serve game. But on the 0-40 point something happened that that would set me off for the rest of the match. On my first serve I fired a serve into the corner, it was an ace. My opponent didn’t even move. Instead, he just stared at where my ball had landed in the service box. Then he calmly looked up at me, and said in the most calm, but disturbing and high pitched voice “Out.” He had already called some balls out that were in, but this one infuriated me. I looked up at my dad, who just shrugged, and then at the other player’s parents who mouthed “Was that really out?” After that he started to stomp his feet when I served, and dished out more ridiculous calls. In a match that I had already won, he cheated his way back to an even 5-5. During the changeover I noticed Brian, the club pro at Pine Ridge and my teacher, started to watch my match. When we started to play again, more cheating occurred on his part and he cheated his way to winning the second set 5-7. We took a five minute break and then started the super tiebreaker (a game to ten points to decide the match.) I knew I couldn’t do anything about this kid’s egocentric tactics, and I was about ready to lie down on the court and take a nap because I was so tired. It turned out that he whooped me in the super tiebreaker 4-10 and I lost the match.

After the match, I gathered my things, stormed off the court, and was met by Bryan in the main lobby. Bryan gave me a high five and said, “Great job Nate! Everyone that saw that match knows that you won, even though you won’t be going on to the next round.” As we were discussing what I should do if I ever get in that situation again, the other kid’s aunt came up to me and said in a sorrowful voice, “I’m really sorry, he has some behavioral problems, and has never had a tennis etiquette lesson. I’m sure we will have a long talk about this when we get back into the car.” Soon Matt, John, my other cousin Andrew, and Mom and Dad were in the lobby telling me stories of how they would give the death glare to the kid after every close call. Andrew was making imitations of how cool he thought my backhand was. After my talk with Bryan and the fun with my cousins and family I left the Pine Ridge open in defeat, but with a great learning experience and looking forward to a cold shower.





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