College Diaries 2015 part 3
Wow!! What an unbelievable last couple of weeks. I mentioned in my last blog that we were coming to the end of the season, and we were getting ready to compete in the final championships in New Orleans. We went into the tournament as 3rd seeds after a couple of tight loses to our conference foes Prairie View A and M and Alcorn State in regular season play. We headed down to New Orleans a few days early to prepare and get used to the humidity. I have a few fond memories of the City park tennis court in New Orleans after battling cramps and all sorts in last year’s conference championships. Fortunately, on this occasion the weather Gods looked as though they were favouring the Hornets, as the forecast for the weekend was nothing but rain!
Last year we fell short of the championship falling to Alcorn State in a close contested final. We had a similar path in this seasons championship, as we faced our fierce rivals Praire View A and M – who I like to call the huns!! Anyway, we had a horrible loss to them earlier in the season much to the disgust of our head coach who I have never seen so angry after that match… and trust me I’ve seen him piff a racket over 4 courts in practice. We knew that the doubles point was key, and would set the tone for the rest of the match. With some beautiful overcast conditions (well beautiful to me anyway) we stamped our authority early on, clinching the doubles point in emphatic fashion, with emphatic wins on court 1 and 3. We made even lighter work of the singles with quick wins coming in at 3, 4 and 5 to take the win 4-0 and move on into the championship match. The matches were won 6-1, 6-1, 6-0 6-0, 6-1 6-2. Okay Coach, I guess we forgive you coach for your outburst….. It was possibly the best match I have seen everyone play this year, and on a personal note I was finally able to get in some singles action. P.S I was leading my match 6-1 4-1 when we clinched, I told the official I won 6-1 4-1, I guess she didn’t quite get my humor ,as she recorded my match as a win…. so we technically won 5-0!!!
The team moral was high after an incredible semifinal victory, however we still had a lot of work to be done. All of the pain endured throughout the season would ultimately come down to one final match. Sunday was a total washout, which meant the final had been moved to nearby indoor facility. It definitely played into the teams hands, with the majority of our team coming from European countries. We knew we needed to start the match with a lot of energy and take the doubles point. We have had a lot of matches this year that have been decided by the doubles point, so we knew it would be incredibly important. Fortunately, after a very intense 45 minutes of play, we managed to take the point and go into singles play with a 1-0 lead. Singles play started very well for us, with only 4 courts the top 4 singles went on first. Big Ronny Mataba got things started with a comfortable straight sets victory, this win was quickly cancelled out with a loss on the number 4 court. We were up 2-1 with number 1 and 3 in tightly contested 3 set battles. After our number 1 ran away with the 3 set, we look poised to take the match comfortably. After a long battle on number 3, our man eventually went down 7-6 in the 3rd set breaker, which meant it would be down to me or Jarred to clinch. Luckily, I went in to the match nerve free as I was confident one of my teammates was going to finish the match. By this stage I was a set up and feeling really good on the court. I have limited singles action this season due to an ongoing injury this season, which I recently found out I will need knee surgery to fix the problem. I knew this would probably be my last match for a while, so any pain I felt, I decided to ignore and deal with later. I recently watched a documentary on a boy who lives in constant pain, so I’m pretty sure I could deal with a few hours of pain…. I managed to chip, hack, hook, slice, dice, and serve volley my way to 5-3 lead in the second set. This was the first time in the whole match I actually realised , “this is it”. I told myself I need that first point, and that is exactly what I got. I then got the 2nd, and 3rd… this was feeling all too comfortable for serving out the championship, I then decided to go for a 2nd serve , serve and volley and when I saw his return sail long , I just dropped my racket and ran towards the boys. Winning that match was by far the greatest
pleasure I have had in tennis, what makes it so special is being able to share it with a group of people who are feeling the same emotions as you in that particular moment, something that is extremely rare in tennis. This win for the team was even sweeter, as it was the first in programs history.
The season is not over, we now have a few weeks to prepare for nationals, which takes place the 2nd week of May.
P.S – Congratulations to all of the BETA players who competed over the Easter break and managed to get some good results – keep working hard!