I like playing with guys who can play better than me because it forces me to step up and stop hiding behind "omg I'm so lousy I can't hit that!" (hmm, that sounds a bit wrong. Nevermind) and all sorts of rubbish excuses that come flooding into my head whenever I shank a forehand. Which is many, may times. It gets worse, I must say, when I shank a backhand because I expect myself to be able to hit at least 50% of the balls, over the net, with proper topspin, that come to my backhand side. Why? Because it's my favourite shot. Because it doesn't make my arms feel like they're about to be yanked out of my shoulder sockets or whatever they're called the way a forehand does.
Anyway, as I was saying, guys that hit fast and hard, and properly (i.e. ball doesn't fly to other side of the court and hit the wall behind me), are wonderful hitting partners. They can control their shots to suit my super low level of play, and sometimes I unwittingly unleash a power shot (by sheer luck) that leave them dumbfounded. Moments like that are perfect "come on!" moments, but of course I keep my mouth shut and apologise to the person at the other side of the net for wrong-footing him or for making him run to the other side of the court.
Going back to what I mentioned earlier about my arm feeling like it's about to be yanked out of the socket, if I'm being honest, I think I injured something in my right arm. And I've been thinking I injured something in my right arm ever since Tuesday night after that super intense and awesome tennis session at KR. It felt better the next day, but today, as I was hoisting my bag over my right shoulder with my right hand, the same tender spot started to hurt. So when I first started playing today I was quite distracted and hit about five consecutive shit forehands, which got me annoyed, and after I got all annoyed and almost Safin-ed my racquet I started to play better.
In fact, I must say that I'm definitely playing TONS better than I was when I first learned the sport. That should go without saying, right? Not really. At one point I was genuinely worried that I was never going to learn how to hit a proper forehand. Seriously. Ever since that dude I met at the NUS court started playing with me and telling me what I'm doing wrong, I can actually hit a few proper forehands, sometimes in a row. Of course, the consistency could be better (much, much better), but it's a far cry from the bumbling idiot that either missed the ball completely or hit it with the frame of her racquet whenever the ball went to her forehand side from months ago.
Sigh. I love tennis. Still, my lack of court coverage, and utter unawareness of where the ball is likely to go, means my legs get tensed up easily when I'm trying to anticipate the ball. My legs get tight, they get heavy, and a few times today I was wrong-footed by the person at the other side of the net, thinking he'd go to my forehand, but he went to my backhand instead. I was already preparing to turn to my right, and the sudden need to do a sharp about-turn really took away a lot of speed and pace from me.
I watch so damn much tennis, but it's not until I'm actually playing that I understand how difficult it is, and how difficult it is to play at a high level consistently. I understand the importance of shot selection and how choosing the wrong shot can completely screw up the point you were constructing and setting up. Case in point: I totally lucked out on my forehand at one point and was hitting three awesome ones in a row, all to the guy's backhand, and unwittingly (seriously, UNWITTINGLY - I don't think at all when I'm playing, I just hit the ball back) I was inching closer and closer to the net, and simultaneously pushing him further and further back. In a real match someone in my position would've probably volleyed the fourth shot into the left court (I still don't know which one is ad which one is deuce!), or played a short ball, something that the opponent couldn't get to. But because it was me, I went for a full backhand hit - and ended up hitting it out.
In any case, I don't know how to volley anyway, and this "approach shot" thing is something I only know in theory watching the pros do it, but it's not something I can do properly in practice. BUT I totally understand how easy it is to hit an approach long. The nature of an approach is a shot that you hit as you approach the net, which gives you less room on the other side to manouvre, which means you really have to control the shot in other not to lose the point. All the balls I hit mid-court have been out - and I mean ALL the balls.
I must say, too, I was quite pleased when a few shots I hit instinctively were actually pretty decent. It's quite hard back-pedalling, especially back-pedalling on the backhand side; a few times the ball came at me damn fast and deep, and I had to back-pedal to get myself enough room to hit it back. And I did! It was totally awesome.
I think I'm gonna need a new racquet soon though. My strings have been running like mad and it's getting irritating trying to push them back where they should be.
Also? The entire afternoon, I had Kris' live performance of Come Together repeating itself in my head. I love his performance of that song despite his non-rock voice, but not so much the studio recording. The studio went on a bit too long and I'm sorry to the Beatles but the lyrics make no sense. Last night I kept wondering why Kris was singing "eee-gud" or whatever, until I read the lyrics and saw that it was..."he got". That has nothing to do with the senseless nature of the lyrics. Um, but really, the lyrics make no sense. And I know Carly did it last season, but I honestly didn't remember what the song sounded like until Kris sang "Come together/right now/over me". That was the only part I remember from Carly's performance.
And for some odd reason, I swear, after I watched it two times yesterday online the song got stuck in my head.
Lastly, because the results show is starting, I LOVE Kris' Running. From Brand New Shoes, his original song. I LOVE Running, I LOVE Wipe It Away, I LOVE I Was Played. I really hope he doesn't sign with the Idol music company; if he puts out a CD like David Cook's or some pop shit, I'm gonna be really sad. I especially loved Running today; I was listening to his songs on the MRT (I went to Yio Chu Kang to play tennis today) and I started smiling to myself when I was listening to Ain't No Sunshine (ultimate favourite Idol performance from him), She Works Hard for the Money (I love the part where he goes, "She works hard for the money, yes she does" - the grit he put in his voice is...sigh), I Was Played, Beautiful Moon...I could go on, really.
His original songs DO sound extremely low-production but he did it himself, I believe. One of the tracks had a viola solo and I'm guessing he played it because he plays the viola too. SIGH! I love my Pocket Idol. Will be power-voting him into Final 2 where he rightfully, and deservedly, belongs.
Two things to say before I go watch the first Dinara Safina match I chanced upon since the Australian Open (she's very loosely my favourite female player. For now):
1. Danny's response to the responses to his Scream actually didn't annoy me. I actually thought he handled it fairly well and was quite impressed by his ability to laugh at himself...until he added that thing at the end about it being included in horror movies. Sigh. I was ready to give him a second chance, but he had to go douchebaggery on me all over again. His hubris is overwhelming, and it's clear that he was the odd person out in the top 4. Allison, Adam and Kris were tight. But not with Danny.
2. LOVED Kris' reaction at being called safe first. LOVED it. It once again epitomises all the things I like about him, and so: Screw you, Simon. I want humility. I want my Pocket Idol the way he is. Not everything has to be a blood bath, and I'm glad Kris is who he is. If he were an arrogant toad, I doubt I'd care so much about him. Because seeing him so shocked and happy when he was at the stools made ME really happy.
2.5. LOVED that Kris presented Daughtry their album sales plaque. Chris Daughtry (because Daughtry is a band) Twittered that Kris was the bomb on Top 5 week. Just because of that, seeing Kris present the plaque to Chris made me happy.
Okay time to watch Safina!