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Tie Breaker This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


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Thwack, thwack. It’s all I can hear. It has been going on since 3 p.m. It’s six now and we still have one match to go.

“Tanya, aren’t we supposed to suck this year?” I ask my doubles partner and twin sister.

“Yeah, but oh well. We’re here now and just have one more match. So let’s play hard,” she answers.

“Uh huh, sure,” I mumble. “Whatever you say.”

“Smoky Valley and Chapman doubles, you’re up,” the scorekeeper yells.

Tanya and I step onto the court thinking, Oh man, we are going to get creamed. Neither team bothers to warm up, we’ve already played three matches. If we aren’t warmed up by now, we never will be.

I trudge over to the net and spin for service. We call out “P” together. When the racket hits the ground it’s a “P.” I heave a sigh then call “Serve.” The Smoky girls pick their side.

Tanya takes the balls and goes to the line; she always serves first. That way maybe we can scare the other team into letting us win. The game is on.

Thwack, thwack. The first seven games fly by. Just like I thought, we are going to get creamed. But then I look over to the sideline and see my dad. He is sitting there looking at me like he knows what’s going through my head. He knows I have already given up even though the game is not over. It’s written all over his face. Well, it’s time to prove him wrong.

“Tanya,” I whisper. “Let’s win this one and prove Dad wrong.”

“It’s about time you showed up,” she answers.

The score is 1-6, but I act like it’s a whole new game – 0-0 again and time to kick some Viking butt. Bam! Bam! Tanya aces her serves just like that. The Smoky team looks at us with those cocky smiles; they think they have the match in the bag. Well, think again.

Thwack, grunt, bam, smack. The Smoky players are getting mad at each other, and Tanya and I, well, let’s just say, talking isn’t needed. We know. We know how to make the other team mad. The score is 3-6; it’s my serve. I can feel the sweat running down my neck as I call out the score.

Let’s just let them win now, my body groans.

No, I respond. I am not going to give up. My first serve is good. We play the point out, and with a smash by Tanya we get the point. I start my second serve. Net ball – I have to serve it again. Smack – it’s in. This is the turning point, I tell myself. Back and forth we hit. Bam, thwack, thwack, BAM! With a huge overhead smash by Tanya at the net, the ball bounces over the fence.

I can see fear creeping into the Smoky girls’ faces. They are scared they will lose. They are going to play scared now. Time to push.

“Tanya,” I whisper while we switch sides. “We have to push them hard.”

She nods. It’s their serve, and the score is 5-6. Their strong server is up. Smack! She hits it hard, but it goes long. I can see her face get red; she shrugs it off and gets her second serve over. The point goes to them. The rest of her serves come in hard, and we struggle just to get them back over, let alone play the point out. We manage to make that game drag out, going into many deuces. Yet they still come out on top in that one.

It’s Tanya’s serve, but I am not worried. In the last matches Tanya was just warming up; she is hot now. Bam! Bam! Tanya aces her serves. The Smoky girls didn’t move; they just gaped. How could they have expected that kind of power from someone who has only played for two years? We win that game, making it 6-7.

The pressure is all on them now. If they lose this next game, we go into a tie breaker, and if they win, they get first place. They have won the tournament twice, and they want to take it again.

Thock! The ball hits the rim of the opponent’s racket and goes straight into the net. Her second serve goes out. She isn’t happy.

Good. Keep her frustrated and we might just win this, I think. She dinks the next serve in. I can tell her partner is angry with her serves. Over and over she misses her first serve then dinks in the second. We win that game, tying the score at 7-7.

“Great … a tie breaker,” I mumble sarcastically.

You can just let them win, you know, my body creaks. It’s not like you gave up or anything.

No. I have come this far, I am not going to just give in to them, I reply.

Dad won’t care if you lose now, my body says. Looking over at my father, I can see the pride in his face. I can tell he won’t care if we lose the tie breaker. He is content that we didn’t give up.

It’s not for him anymore, I tell my body. It’s for me now.

Break’s over; time for my serve. It’s first team to seven, but we have to win by two points.

Bam! I hit it over, just barely missing the net. Again Tanya and I don’t need to talk. We are just there, reacting to each other, covering each others’ weaknesses and playing to our strengths.

To those watching, it might look like we are psychic. The Smoky team stops thinking about winning and finally just plays. Smack, bam, smack! The points go back and forth, neither side making any headway. We are all winning our serves.

Okay, time to break their serves, I think. Wham! Their strong server hits the net, then the ball bounces in. “Let,” I call. She gets to serve again. Whack! She hits it straight into the net.

This is it, I think. She’s going to mess up now.

She tosses the ball high, reaches back to swing, and dinks it right into the net. The score is 14-13; we need just one more point to win.

“Here you go, Tanya. Get this one in. You got it,” I holler, still facing forward.

Smack! I hear the ball fly past my head then – bam – it bounces right on the corner service line. The Smoky girl barely has time to move and just tips it off her racket. The ball floats toward me but doesn’t reach me. Instead it hits the net.

15-13. Tanya and I have won! We walk to the net and shake hands with the other team. As I look over the courts I realize we were the last match to finish. All I feel is pride that we just proved everyone wrong.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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Meredith M. said...
Aug. 29, 2009 at 12:16 am:
Great story. I couldn't stop reading it! It reminds me of the intense basketball games I have played. Good job and congrats on the win!
 
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