I definitely made a huge mistake there: I got broken to love. I started with a double fault, then made a bunch of errors, and then I was broken. And then I couldn't break back. I somehow held for 1-2, then tried really hard to break, but couldn't, and then I was broken again. I got angry, of course; I was already annoyed when I opened with a double fault. My racket found the ground when I hit a cross-court forehand into the net. I had all this negative energy pent up inside, this anger that causes adrenaline and cortisol production to go into overdrive, thereby tensing up my muscles. As a result, I was too tensed, too anxious, wanting too desperately to win the points but I only ended up hurting myself instead.
It also didn't help that, about halfway through, I felt my upper left thigh start to ache, probably the result of way too much tennis in the last few days.
And so when I was down 1-4, after changing ends and waiting to receive, I thought, 'I don't care anymore. I'm just going to hit the ball.'
The eventual scoreline doesn't reflect it, but still: I am still in some disbelief at how much more effective I was, how much better I was hitting the ball, when I was more or less completely relaxed, letting go of all the anger and annoyance and negativity. I could actually see the ball, saw the point of contact and hitting these perfect forehands, making my first serves. That was what it meant to swing freely, with nothing to lose; and quite amazingly, this relaxed state of mind made a difference physically, too. Whereas I was panting like an old woman after long rallies in Angry Mode, in Relaxed Mode, I didn't feel the physical effects of those long rallies even half as much. How incredible, right?
I ended up breaking her serve twice. It was just a shame that I couldn't hold serve, especially when I was serving at 3-5 to stay in it. I guess the bright side is that I had half a chance to hold but she hit this great cross-court forehand, and then the score was 30-all but I messed up the next point, then was annoyingly distracted by a ball that rolled to my court behind me which I saw from the corner of my eye and couldn't get to her return. At least I wasn't broken to love, I guess.
The tiebreak - I made too many errors. Oh well.
The overall positive that I am taking from this is that I am taking positives from it at all. But it is a huge positive, finally experiencing what it's like to hit freely, to stop thinking about winning the point, to let go of the self-directed anger. It also didn't help at all that I was too focused on wanting to keep my top position in the league; that created too much pressure and I was actually nervous before playing this match.
So here's a major lesson learned: don't get angry, keep calm, relax, play as if I have nothing to lose. If this match had been scored the usual way, I might have actually won it in 3. I could have clawed my way back into it; if I had held at 3-5, I think I would have evened it for 5-all. But Sylvie can actually play, so losing to her doesn't feel as shitty as losing to most others. She's also really sweet, so there's that, too.
Anyway, I am so knackered. My left leg still hurts and my whole body feels abused. I need to sleep.
(2-match losing streak; won 12 of last 15 matches.)