Also, watching him lose so badly actually did make me feel somewhat less shitty (though not by much) about the last league match that I played on Wednesday, which I lost (again) 6-4, 6-2. At one point in the second set, I was convinced that the only way I could win a point on my own serve was when my opponent missed a return. I was down 5-3 in the first set. I broke back when Opponent served for it. When I served to stay in it, I went through this marathon deuce game in which I had numerous game points, saved two set points, just to lose the set on a fucking double fault in the end. The best part was, after I missed the first serve, I told myself not to double fault...which only proved that one should not think positive in a negative way when one is in a tight situation. Thinking "don't double fault" when one really should not double fault is pretty much the surest way of ensuring the double fault.
I completely fucked up the second set. It was the second time that I completely switched off after losing a rather tight first set (the first time was when I lost the first set to this guy with a huge serve but average groundstrokes after having break points when he was serving out the set). I was pretty tired that day: I slept at 4am as I was watching Roger, then woke up at 8.30am to arrange a tennis court in the morning and played tennis with Rudy at 11am, then spent the entire afternoon in the library dying over my Jurisprudence essay, which meant that I had too much caffeine and not enough food as I didn't want to eat too much before the 6pm match. In fact, from the minute I got on court at 6, I felt like I could not feel my limbs properly. It also did not help that it started drizzling sometime towards the end of the first set (I was really irritated by the rain and the cold).
Still. I could have hung in there a bit more. At one point, I thought to myself, "Fuck, I just want to get off the court." That probably explains why I quickly found myself down 0-5 in the second. I don't even know how I managed to win two games in the end.
As usual, my forehand was a liability. What really pissed me off, though, was this service game of mine in which I literally missed four mid-court backhands in a row and got myself broken. I'm usually pretty irritated when I make mistakes; when the mistakes come from my backhand, it's unforgivable. It's disappointing and deflating because it's the best part of my game (apart from my dressing, that is) and I can't even rely on it consistently.
Having said all that, there were two positives that I was quite proud of. First, I tracked a short ball to the net and instead of trying to smack it mid-air out of panic, I waited for it to bounce and then hit a clean cross-court backhand winner. Second, during the marathon game with ten million deuces when I served to stay in the first set, I saved a set point with this pretty brilliant forehand lob. My opponent attacked the net and I knew that I wouldn't be able to generate enough pace on my forehand to pass him, so I went for the lob - and it was perfectly executed. The Lincoln's Inn tennis courts are situated in front of this cafe with an outdoor patio, and after I hit that lob, I heard someone say, "That's a great shot!"
Too bad I had to double fault the set away. Bleah.
I definitely blamed Rudy for tiring me out in the morning. Okay, I jest, but it turned out to be pretty tiring. My lack of sleep obviously didn't help matters, but neither did his making me run so much. I was not surprised to discover that he plays better tennis than me despite being a badminton player. He also played like a guy who can hit a tennis ball properly: he tended to go for too much on his shots. It was pretty hilarious at times.
He said that I needed more power on my forehand. I told him that I couldn't generate power and he said, "Just swing faster." If only it were that easy! He also said what everyone says: my backhand is much better than my forehand. I have discovered, however, that I am quite bad at going fast enough to my backhand side when the ball goes in that direction to properly set up the backhand. I'm always rushed when the ball goes to my backhand corner. I blame this on my lack of proper footwork. Most of the time I can sort of rescue the situation by hitting an open-stance backhand, but I tend to lose quite a bit of power because I'm off-balance and leaning backwards and not transferring my weight properly. When I first started to get the hang of tennis, I almost always hit my backhand open-stance, until NUS Wall Guy made me stop doing it and hit it closed. There's nothing inherently wrong with an open-stance backhand; the Williams sisters and Agnieszka Radwanska all have open-stance backhands. For me, though, I hit my backhand the best when I'm properly positioned. The open-stance is what I resort to when I can't position myself properly.
Anyway, I finally got my racquet restrung after four months. I wanted my usual Prince string at first but Rudy was all, "This string is crap" and tempted me into trying something different, despite the failed experiment with this hybrid thing he did for me when he strung my second racquet (the only saving grace was that the strings are pretty: pink and blue). I couldn't decide on what to do so I gave him a complete blank cheque to do whatever he wanted based on what I told him about my "game". My only input was the colour of the strings: they are blue and black which match my racquet exactly. It looks so good. When he gave me my racquet before we started playing, I took one look at it and fell in love. I said, "Ooh I like it!"
He replied, "Don't say that until you've used it."
This experiment turned out better than the pink one. He really dropped the tension though; the strings started running a bit after one hour, and his playing with it definitely accelerated the loosening process. I felt uncomfortable serving with it but groundstrokes-wise, it was fine. I felt like I needed to hit the ball a bit harder, especially off the forehand, but that was probably because I didn't have to do much with the previous 4-month-old strings 'cause they were so loose already.
I think I still like the Prince better but I'll see how subsequent plays with the blue strings pan out. Whatever it is, I need to play better tennis. My current level pisses me off. I'll be playing lots of tennis after I'm done with my LL.M. obligations. Can't wait!