I Won a Tennis Match
...but the manner in which I won was so awful that I didn't really feel any pride or joy.
I joined the Cambridge Lawn Tennis Club a month ago and signed up to play their singles mini-league. Basically, you play against different opponents (well, duh) in a group of five (I think), and instead of playing sets, you play 10 games.
I played my first mini league match today with a really nice lady whom I guessed was American from her accent, but I didn't ask. I was quite dismayed to discover that the floodlit courts of the club are the synthethic ones; when I went for this assessment thing with one of the coaches, I really, really hated the surface. I think it's carpet. The bounce is lower, faster, as if most of the pace is absorbed by the carpet.
I struggled with my timing during the warm-up. I struggled big time, too, with my returns during her opening service game. I literally missed five backhand returns in a row from the deuce court. But I still ended up breaking her when she threw in a few double faults and I managed to get my forehand returns over the net from the ad court.
Thankfully, I managed to sort out my backhand return as the match progressed (though I did frame a couple of them). As usual, I had trouble holding serve, not because I was double-faulting, but because I couldn't prepare as quickly as I should have for the follow-up shot after the return; I couldn't get my feet moving quickly enough and was almost always on the back foot, trying to play catch up. So we kept breaking each other, then we held a few service games, and it was pretty much on serve until I was serving at 4-5 to stay in it (because only ten games in total are played, not first to ten).
Before that, I think I was serving at 4-3. At one point, I fleetingly imagined the victory; and of course, after imagining the victory for a second, I threw in a horrible service game. I don't even know what the hell happened. I couldn't get a first serve in, messed up the second serve, started hitting balls into the net (which was greeted with my yelling out loud, 'Hit the ball over the net!'), and I think it was this game where I missed my first forehand up the line. So I got broken. And then I thought, 'Okay, time to break her and serve it out.'
She went on to hold to love. HA HA HA.
I was actually quite convinced that I would lose it 6-4. But I managed not to mess up my shots, and the backhand that I hit into the net at 40-15 did not cost me the entire match, as my normal pattern of behaviour is to mess up the 40-30 point, dig myself into a deuce hole, and then get broken and lose. Not this time, though. She also helped me out by hitting some shots long, and I also got lucky when my mishit backhands somehow found a way to land in the service box (ugh, I hate it when I don't hit my backhand properly). So I held for 5-5, and then we played a tiebreak.
It was the longest tiebreak ever. At one point, I was up 5-3, but of course, I messed up. We each found ourselves with match points multiple times, but she would mess up on her match points and I would mess up on mine...until we got to 11-10, her serve.
She served to my forehand. I took a swing at it, and the split second my racquet made contact with the ball, I realised, 'Fuck, I didn't put enough spin on it; it's gonna go into the net.'
But it didn't go into the net. Instead, it hit the net cord and then dropped over to her side of the court.
And that was how I won the match.
I was so embarrassed. It was the worst way for the match to end...but at the same time, given how gimpy we both were on the big points, I guess that was the only way for the match to end. I think we were both more relieved than anything, though I was also really embarrassed. But wow, this was one of the closest matches I've never played in my life. I usually lose really quickly to little fanfare; today, I almost lost a close match and only barely eked out a win with a lucky net cord.
So my overall impression of my performance is as follows. I am pleased that my forehand was more than serviceable; it was actually mostly reliable. My backhand was also (surprisingly) quite on point despite the five missed returns in a row at the start, and dumping some balls into the net. I could really direct the ball on both wings and hit successful passing shots on both sides. I attacked the short balls whenever I could, especially on the backhand, and I think I was mostly successful. My forehand up/down the line was also on song today (save for that one I hit to the doubles sideline when I was serving at 4-3) which pleased me. I noticed, too, that I made a conscious decision to keep going cross-court with the forehand when we occasionally managed to engage in a extended-ish rally. This is significant because I resisted the temptation to go down the line, which would have been really difficult given that I wasn't exactly in position for the down the line; it just happens to be one of my favourite shots.
What I did not do well were probably two things. First, my net play - I think the only positive that I can take from it is that I eventually stopped going to the net after losing a couple of points at the net. I don't even like going to the net, but it feels like the natural thing to do when you run up to a short ball; the natural thing to do is to chase it to the net and hit the volley. But my volleys are unreliable, and as usual, I dumped an easy one into the net. On my next foray to the net, I managed to volley a bit but eventually got passed. So I stopped. I made the conscious decision to stay the fuck back after returning a short ball and play from where I'm most comfortable. It worked for the most part.
The second thing...I can't remember what I was gonna say. I think it had to do with how her shots weren't particularly powerful (though they did come back) or with much pace, and I still got drawn into long rallies. In other words, I should have been more aggressive, gone for the shots more, ended the rally when I saw an opportunity. I didn't hit that many balls long but there were a few that I hit into the net; not sure what this means. But anyway, I should try as much as possible to play at my own pace and not let the other player dictate.
All in all, it was a lot of fun. Needless to say, I am pleased that I won, but the net cord is simply embarrassing!
2015 Law PhD Formal at Magdalene
I organised a formal for my PhD friends at my college, given that we are allowed up to 10 guests from Monday to Wednesday. There were 11 of us and it was so much fun! Most of us hung out at the bar, drinking wine that some of us bought from the buttery for dinner, and talking till a little past midnight when the porter had to lock up the bar. We were definitely not discussing any PhD-related things (I banned all talk about work) and talked about men, women and relationships.
I might have bitched a bit too much about W, which means that I had a bit too much to drink. But again, I didn't anything that wasn't factual, so again, whoever decides to go out with someone in the same social/academic setting voluntarily assumes the risk of stories being spread.
Anyway, it was fun. I should hang out with the women more. I generally neither crave for nor miss female company, but it would be nice to have it once in a while.
By that I mean that I had lunch with Ed, Daffy and Azi at the Market Square. There is a Malaysian Indian kiosk that offered thosais for like, 4 pounds a pop. DELICIOUS!
Later, we had coffee at Aromi. Once again, I bitched about my love life and the most recent incident. I don't know why I didn't see immediately that W was just not very nice, but yeah, it didn't occur to me immediately, but better late than never. I love Daffy and Ed's innocence; they didn't understand why I said that I didn't want to go over to W's for tea at 11pm as I didn't want to sleep with him. Haha! I think it is so lovely that they have found each other.
OH MY GOD I DON'T EVEN WANT TO THINK ABOUT THIS I AM SO STRESSED OUT.