With the very first USTA 4.0 singles league match of the spring season complete, it's time to get meta with a full match report - Vacation style.
It was my first USTA league match, ever.
A close one too, as close as you could get - just 2 points.
After being up 5-2 in the 3rd set 10 point tiebreaker with the road to victory in sight, I ended up losing the match 8-10.
And honestly it was the best tennis match I've ever played.
So let's get into the preparation for the match, how it went down, why losing never felt so good, how you can learn from my mistakes, and how we can win those extra 2 points.
The mental prep game
If you play tennis matches you know how nerves start to mess with you. Earlier this week I was feeling some nerves being my first team match, and I covered unique ways to fix that here.
The ultimate goal was to have fun and play some awesome tennis. This was my core idea, my safe place, that all thoughts related to the match would radiate from.
Focus was turned from nerves and score anxiety to getting to a good place, being grateful for the ability to play, and accepting the worst outcome ahead of time.
I was mentally prepping to play the best tennis of my life. I told myself "we're going to play some good ass tennis" and it worked.
What also worked was blasting "Bad and Boujee" on the way to the match. This set the mood straight on the 25 minute drive to the tennis club, turning my Honda Civic into a 'Rari 458 with no roof.
The physical prep
Tennis is hard, and gaining slight advantages over your opponents is huge. Sharpening and polishing your blade can mean big dividends over the course of the match.
My biggest strength in tennis compared to most opponents at the 4.0 level is speed and endurance, so a little extra was put in this week to prepare for a long grinding match.
Two different fun practice sessions this week that included hitting, points, practice sets, and serve points.
To up the physical and counteract the threat of getting a beer belly I added a 40 minute run early in the week with interval sprints to get the heart rate up and get the body moving fast.
Prior to each hitting session and the match, I added light jogs around the neighborhood as a warm up and included quick bursts, high knees and jumps to really activate the legs and get some blood flowing.
A light stretch and range of motion routine was completed after each run.
If you haven't done it I highly recommend adding some range of motion and flexibility exercises to your tennis warm up routine, especially if you are sitting down a lot for work. Moving around the court feels much more natural - so try it yourself.
Still rocking the Yonex Ai98, known to be a comfortable racket with its flexy feel.
We just did a full string play test here with Solinco Tour Bite Soft 18 gauge so we're rolling with that currently at 45 lbs.
The venue - Avalon Tennis Club
Richmond has so many great tennis clubs, and this one didn't disappoint.
Winding through neighborhoods close to the river, Avalon offers a private setting with 8 picturesque hardcourts with pool views.
The bright blue and and green courts pop against a backdrop of mature trees.
I haven't played on hardcourt for a while, but these courts are gritty, slow, and high bouncing - perfect for a grinder.
Some good tennis was about to go down.
The opponent grabbed the first set 6-4 and threw in some unexpected serve and volley. I had some unforced on my slice backhand as his chip brought me in often.
I immediately noticed his 2nd serve was a weakness and would be an opening for me, as well as drilling to his backhand wing.
In the 2nd set I got some momentum going by applying pressure to his 2nd serve and going to his backhand every single shot. I don't think I hit a single forehand to his forehand and it worked, so I stuck with it.
Day started to fade into night and we were the last match still going. The other players and teams were well on their way to a good time as the sound of cold beers cracking echoed off the trees.
With Bad and Boujee as an anthem stuck in my head, I pulled off a strong physical 2nd set win 6-3. Heart rate skyrocketed a few times on longer points but I was able to bring it back together and focus on strategy.
Starting off in the 10 point breaker to decide the match, I quickly found myself up 5-2 and could almost feel the victorious ice cold longneck in my hand. The first half went slow but after a couple aces and a few errors and it was all of sudden 6-7.
The points were flying by too quick in the second half of the breaker. I saved one match point to get to 8-9 and thought I just need one more point to level the field. But he was able to serve out his final point to take the match.
Hats off to my opponent Todd. We shook hands and I told him I gave him my best.
Drenched and body beaten I limped my way up to the overlook to meet the team and was immediately greeted by a frosty refreshing beverage to numb the pain.
I learned the good news that our team swept the doubles lines so despite my loss we took the victory - bringing the team to 3-0 for the season.
Tennis can be a very individual game but both teams came together after and celebrated our victories and mourned our losses - toasting to the love of the game.
On the drive home with the windows down and warm night air I remembered my goal for the night - to play some really good fun tennis and we did just that.
It was so close that I'm 1000% sure that I could have gotten those 2 extra points, and even though I lost, it was the confidence us tennis payers need to build a strong base for the next match.
So please join me, tennis players worldwide. In getting your mental strategy right, upping your fitness, and finding ways to sharpen your blade - so you can win those extra 2 points.
Can't wait to see you out there.