Last Sunday I played in the first match of the LTA Winter season against Seaford Tennis Club. The team achieved a 4-0 win, but it wasn't easy.
The first pair were made up of a decent player who liked to move forwards and a 15yr old who has a very promising tennis career in front of him. We ended up winning the match pretty convincingly, 6-1 6-3, due to being steady and letting our opponents lose the match. The 15yr old aced me twice! It was one hell of a serve!
It was against the second pair where we should have been better. The pair was made up of an unconventional, seasoned player, and a very tricky leftie. My partner and I took an early lead in the first set and ended up winning that 6-3, but it was in the second set where things became a bit tighter. Maybe it was a lack of focus having won the first set so easily, that we both relaxed and took our foot off the gas. Suddenly we were facing set point - when had all these points happened! We ended up losing that second set 3-6. Tennis really is a game where if you lose your concentration for 10 minutes, the whole of the set can be lost.
I opened up the championship tiebreak with a well placed serve down the T with my volleyer picking off the return for a winner - great, we have the first point! After some well fought points (and an infuriatingly bad line call from our opponents) the score was 6-9. If my partner and I lost one more point, we would lose the match.
We won the first point and now it was my serve, ACE! phew! We won the next few points to bring it to 10-9. After saving 4 match points it was now our turn to try to win the match.
The rally was played with nerves of all 4 players evidently shown, but now, my partner had hit a very effective volley over to the backhand side, our opponent just got his racket to the ball and suddenly I had the ball sitting shoulder height in front of me 2m away from the net. This is it, the time where you choke, or you power through the ball for a clean put away. A second later, we had won the match ;)
Championship tiebreaks really do test your nerves!
Tom Honeywood. Tennis coach, Brighton & Hove.