Sunday, July 13, 2008

Jersey ... Boy! (or back by popular demand: the latest installment of "Oh yeah, I play tennis, too")

Cracking inside-out forehands like my man Jim Courier.

Busting two-handed backhands like Novak Djokovic.

Serving up kickers as if it was Rafael Nadal.

Guess who was doing all of that? None other than yours truly over the week as I got ready to play my first tournament in nearly a year this weekend due to injuries.

First stop on the Van Sias comeback trail: Veteran's Park in Trenton, N.J. I was going to play a tournament at the club I belong to, but I missed the entry cut-off. So I scoured the USTA site for one in the region and Trenton was it. I had never been out there before, so why not go for it?

Can I tell you how much I regret that decision? I get out there, which was about a two-hour journey, get on the court and get my head handed to me by a pretty-good player, but one that if I were to lose to, I shouldn't lose by that much. This is sad, but I've gotten unused to playing a competitive match outdoors. Most of the time nowadays when I'm playing points, games or sets, I'm doing it indoors on Har-Tru. I hit with a guy in my neighborhood outdoors on hard courts in the park maybe once or twice a week, but that's it: We just hit. No points, nothing. I'm not adept at handling the outdoor conditions, such as wind and humidity, anymore, which is sad because if anything I grew up playing in the hottest place in the world, Mobile, Ala.

So my week of hitting like the perfect combination of Courier, Djokovic and Nadal was all for naught. After getting dusted, I was back on my merry way to Brooklyn, another two-hour journey. My total travel time was more than double my on-court time! All those two-hour journeys were expensive, too. So not only did I take a beating, my wallet did as well!

Anyway, I'm not going to pack it in. And I guess I did come away with some things I need to do or be more conscious of:

• First, and foremost, get my sorry butt in shape. I've been playing about three times a week, but I need to hit the gym, or at least jump some rope!

• When I'm outside hitting with that guy in the 'hood, make sure we play some points at least.

• This was a tip from the cab driver who dropped me off and picked me up at the courts: Make sure I give myself plenty of time to get there so I can hit the courts in a more relaxed state rather than being agitated about making it there on time.

• Never play out there again! Just kidding! I'm too hard-headed to give up. Plus, the way I figure it, that place owes me a trophy! I'll be back.


Nancy said...

I bet you have a spot already picked out where your next New Jersey trophy will look great...

Shelia said...

That's the right attitude Van! The next time they see your back it will be with their metal in hand!!

Too bad I don't live near you. I have been out their so infrequently this year, I promise you that you could lift your spirits by handing me my head on a silver platter, lol.

Naf said...

Keep it up, Van! It can only get better. I just played in a tournament, and got my clock cleaned by an ex-college player. You can't expect to beat people who are better than you, but those experiences can be used to make you a better player.
Plus, I think just hitting is really good for your game. Yeah, I guess practicing points are good, too, but when I wasn't hitting earlier this summer, I found my confidence in my shots was shaky.
Get ready for the next one, man!

van said...

• Hey Nancy, I have some ideas. It all depends if a certain someone lets me put it somewhere! : P

• Sheila, I don't know if I'll be doing any head-handing to anyone unless I get it in gear! I will get their trophy eventually; like I said, they owe it to me!

• Hey Naf! I have one coming up next weekend and it's on my home turf, so I should be able to do something there. I'll get out and hit some, play, whatever: I have to do it for Roosevelt Island!