The Whiff

20150126_150804-2My narrative essay from earlier this year. This took place two years ago. It is crazy how fast time flies.

 

University high school, one of the top tennis teams in our area was our next opponent. They were legends, with arguably one of the best varsity tennis teams in the nation. My friend Brandon Keller and I were going to play our third match in our 2014-2015 frosh tennis season. “You guys will get wrecked 0-18, their subs will beat you.” “Dude their JV can beat our Varsity badly,” exclaimed one of our own players.

The day finally came and I trudged my way along to the tennis courts scared out of my mind. University’s frosh team was already there getting ready to practice. Ughh we will get smoked I thought to myself as I prepared for warm ups. I looked over at the Uni team, they were noticeably sharper than we were hitting with pace, power, and precision. Our record was 2-0 but the teams we beat, JSerra and CDM, were pretty bad. On the other hand we had not heard of University’s frosh/soph team  losing a match in years.

Introductions started as usual with the coaches yelling out the lineups. “Playing number one doubles for Fountain Valley, we have Harshin and Brandon,” yelled the coach. We went up and shook hands with Uni’s number one doubles team. We were intimidated.

They were much more skilled and experienced than we were but we put up a decent fight. Tactically they were on point, hitting the open areas and putting us in terrible positions to score. Before you knew it, it was over, we had lost 1-6.

Going into the second match we were scared. We just got wrecked by their number one team and we were going on to play their number three doubles. Unlike us they won their last match, and looked very good in warm ups. Our coach had gone over some quick strategical points with us and explained how we had nothing to lose.

The match started off close as both us and our opponents were trading off points left and right. My partner and I were playing a lot better and were kind of surprised how close the match was. Looking around it was evident that our team overall was losing badly. But then again we were expected to lose like this.

We were somehow up 5-4 against our opponents. Before, I knew it we won our second match 6-4. Now, the worst score Fountain Valley could get was 1-17. I felt a big sense of relief.

Our last match was against Uni’s number two doubles team. One of their players got “hurt” so they subbed in their number two singles player. The match started off great for us. The opponents had trouble finding their stride and we took full advantage. We were up 4-0. Soon disaster struck, as with most quality teams, somehow our opponents clawed their way back. The scored was tied, 5-5 we were going to a tiebreak.

As I looked around I saw at least 55 people watching me serve. Coaches, players (varsity and frosh), and parents all waiting for me to serve. For the first time in my life, I experienced what pressure felt like.

The tiebreak was moving very quickly. It was obvious that the other team was just as nervous and jittery as us. We traded points back and forth, 1-2,2-3,4-4. Finally, It was 5 all. The opposing team cracked under pressure… the kid double faulted. Soon, all eyes were on my partner and I, it was match point.

“Thud” the first serve of my opponent smacked the net. The kid shook his head and prepped for the second serve. I looked back at my partner to make sure he was okay. I was sweating like crazy, and felt the pressure choking me. The second serve came, I was up volleying at the net. I heard an ugly noise and realised my partner didn’t middle the return. I looked up and saw the ball coming straight towards one of my opponents at the net,  high and slow in the air. He whiffed it. In other words, he airballed a layup. The pressure got to the poor kid’s head and he swung and missed at one of the easiest balls he received the whole match. I looked back and cracked up remembering  how screwed we were just a second ago, thinking the kid would smack the ball right back. Fountain Valley didn’t lose 0 matches to 18, we won 2 matches to 16.

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