I would've gone on, actually, if it weren't for the fact that it was so cold, and that I think I injured my left wrist due to all the lousy mis-timed backhands which had an especially jarring impact on my frozen left hand. At one point when we were hitting, I thought maybe I would slice all my backhands because it was too much of a tall order to time my backhand properly and it didn't seem like a good idea to keep mis-timing and sending all these bad vibrations through the wrist, up the arm. Alas, my backhand slice is even more unreliable than my topspin backhand (which is actually my better shot when I time it properly).
My left wrist hurts now when I flex it. Now I wish I had brought over these muscle pain sticker packs (I don't know what they're called) that my grandparents gave to me when I was in Taiwan. I really hope the pain goes away tomorrow because I cannot not play tennis; it's one of the few things that keep me sane.
Anyway, tennis was great today. It was great today because, for the first time in a really fucking long time, I won a set. When Jay and I played in the past, I had always chosen to serve first so as to get the service game out of the way; but because my serve is a piece of crap, I always start off getting broken and on the back foot, already trailing and trying to get back into it from the losing position.
Today, I pulled a Federer against Nadal in a grand slam match (I forgot which one though). I chose to receive. (Federer always chooses to serve first when he wins the coin toss, which is why it made such an impression when he chose to receive against Nadal after winning the toss.)
Jay's serve is also weakest part of his game, like me; and the psychological advantage when one starts off a set breaking one's opponent is quite unlike the psychological mess that one is in when one starts off a set being broken by one's opponent. Before I knew it, I suddenly found myself up 4-0. It was crazy. It was so crazy that I inadvertently found myself picturing the finish line, finally winning a set for once; and of course, once I started visualising the end, visualising the victory, the wheels started to come off.
Jay went on to hold for 1-4. Serving at 4-1, I found myself dropping serve when Jay approached the net and killed off these shitty short balls off my racquet that barely made it to the service line. He held for 4-3, and then the pressure was really on.
My service game at 4-3 was quite honestly one of the toughest I have ever played. I don't even remember how it got to deuce, whether I saved any break points or blew all my game points, but I found myself playing multiple deuces, fending off break points, and I had one clear thought in my mind: If I blow a 4-0 lead, I should really fucking quit tennis.
At advantage-out (break point), I saw an opportunity for a forehand up-the-line off his relatively weak return. I cannot begin to describe how clearly in my mind I saw this shot; I knew that I had to take it. I knew that I would make it. In my mind, I saw myself hitting the ball up the line, catching more line than not, before I even hit it. And so when I stepped up to the ball, took a swing at it, directed it up the line, I was not at all surprised to see the ball hitting its target, exactly like I had intended.
This shot right there is the whole reason I play tennis. It was one of the most in-the-zone shots I'd ever hit in my life. There was literally no way I could have messed it up, and no way it could have been returned. It was the perfect winner. And it felt so fucking good.
Unfortunately, I messed up a rather routine backhand a couple of shots after that and blew a game point. Like Andy Murray, I involuntarily yelled out loud at myself; you stupid, you idiot. And then the same thought: If I blow a 4-0 lead... And then more positively, Federer describing his mindset in the Australian Open final: You play the ball, not the opponent.
I think my disproportionately high losing percentage really exposes my weakness of mind, especially given that I have a pretty solid baseline game. Half of tennis is in the mind, which is what makes it so intriguing: it shows your character, how you deal with adversity, whether you're just a shitty quitter. My high losing percentage has certainly got into my head, such that it's become a vicious cycle: I play a set thinking I will lose, when I find myself losing I think, well, how unsurprising, and then I lose. It's got in my head so much that I wasn't convinced at all, leading 4-0, that I could seal the deal.
But you play the ball, not the opponent, not even when a part of this opponent is yourself. So I played the ball. And I found myself holding for 5-3 after that long service game that almost brought me to my knees. And then I thought, I have to break and win now; I don't trust myself to serve it out.
Jay quickly went down 0-40 (a combination of his double faults, poor play, and me swinging quite freely). At 0-40, I received a normal-paced serve to my forehand. I pounced, hit it deep and aggressively cross-court, chased it to the net; and he netted his reply.
OH MY GOD YES FINALLY! Granted, I went on to lose the next mini-set we played 4-2 (first to 4 games) but I didn't care anymore at that point; all that mattered then was that I won that set.
This slight euphoria that I felt, due mostly to the forehand winner on break point, really makes playing in the cold and in the light snow so very worth it. Right now, I don't even care if the rest of my Saturday is completely fucked due to fatigue + a bad night's sleep; my tennis was on point today and I am very happy.
(It wasn't just that winner; it was the way most of my shots really connected with the racquet. Of course, I profited off his errors, but I usually gift loads of points to my opponents with my errors, so it's just the nature of the game. But it feels so good to hit so freely, so accurately, directing the ball as if you are in total control of it. Tennis is wonderful.)
There is a bit of a downer though, for I thought, Who should I tell about my wonderful day at tennis today? Someone who gets it, someone who would be enthused, someone who would say, 'I'm so proud of you.'
Someone, then, who is absent, who is gone, whose role in my life is a gaping hole that I sometimes still struggle to fill. Do I miss the person or the thing? I think I miss the person and the thing.
Why, though? I honestly thought that I would be totally over it by now but that's clearly not the case. This defies all logic and rationality. And it is because I hate these kind of feelings that I wish I could stop feeling entirely.
I couldn't help but think of him when I had to serve drinks at BA yesterday, for it was only a week ago that he was there with me. I was nervous about it, just like I would be nervous bringing someone who was important then to a social event; but I was also excited. My intuition lagged behind the facts; I thought it was sweet when, during dinner, I told him that I hadn't booked anything for the movie that we were talking about watching, and he said, 'Leave it to me.'
I left almost everything (if not everything) to him, didn't I? I responded to his overtures. I followed his lead. I reacted to his show of interest. I didn't say no when he wanted to meet on Sunday after spending hours together on Saturday, even though I was looking forward to spending the Sunday afternoon by myself. I went against my nature and was spontaneous when he texted me at 4pm one day and asked if I could meet him for dinner.
I don't know how I got from saying 'I like him but not enough to be devastated if he fucks off after I tell him about herpes' one day, to 'I really like him and I don't want to not see him' the next day. It doesn't make any fucking sense. None of this makes sense. That I am still affected a week later doesn't make sense. I just want to know what the hell I need to do to not care anymore because this whole shit is really pissing me off.
Oh actually, I know: I need to stop writing this crap, wash the plates, shower, say hi to Matt at Fitzbillies (i.e. buy coffee), and work on my bloody PhD in the library. That is what I need to do.
I wish I could destroy my feelings the way I destroyed Jay's break point with that forehand up-the-line winner. That would be amazing.