My First Tournament

Unexpected Gains

He would rally and rally and rally, and not miss. Well, I had tried this stuff with Mr. Pratley as you remember and I thought that practice had toughened me up for this real test.

During the event some very interesting things came my way. Court time was scarce as they were putting matches on constantly. To not be too bored (and the reader must remember we had no video games or television at the site) we would literally run to any "open" court and hit balls. Of course a lot of other players needed warm-up time as well. My buddies and I were always the first to get on as we had other buddies who would go looking for open courts. Soon, we were very popular! Many older players would come over and ask if they could warm up with us as they were getting ready to go on for their match. Well, I learned a lot from this! I was able to see first hand what strokes they used in the warm up and how much of each they liked to use. Some seemed to want to only hit from the baseline, others wanted to get last minute serving problems ironed out. Many never hit at the net or asked for overheads (than goodness they weren't playing me or my buddies as we all knew which shot was their worst!). During the entire day we must have jumped on 10-15 open courts for 5-10 minutes each. We learned to start playing immediately without a warm-up as time was crucial - we didn't want to get kicked off every time without playing some fun stuff. We just served 'em up and ran around. By the time they called my match I had already played some tough points with all kinds of players so the matches were often quite easy.

I won the under 13 Canterbury Championships, (over Peter Hampton), my first tournament, and it seemed like there were 100's of people watching (the build up to the match came from his reputation, as he never lost much). It was a lot of fun and I thanked the Almighty, promised Him if I lost I would go to church for a month straight, but never followed through with the one month of church attendance. Do you think He is still mad at me?

(Author's note: Peter and I represented New Zealand and our state many times. We were never close buddies, but respected each other a lot, and we were dedicated to the game, and played every point with as much effort and resolve as any player could. His father was a great man. Mr. Hampton died a while ago, but while alive, he was the driving force behind junior tennis in Canterbury for years, and after years of North Island dominance our Southern province dominated New Zealand junior tennis for years. I thank him for all his work).

Next........

Winning on the national scene......


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