Losing a semi-final at milton year end tournament 2022

 

It is a mixed feeling for me right now.

Losing a close match brought disappointment, particularly for a game I feel I was actually the better player.  But I failed to convert on those points that really matter to the match’s outcome.

At the same time, I am also satisfied and relieved that I don’t need to play the final tomorrow against the same player I lost in the final last year.  After a marathon match(2 hr full), I would appreciate taking tomorrow off and focusing on my family to prepare for Monday’s work.  It would NOT be good if I win today and then retire for tomorrow’s final at 8pm.

Dave did an outstanding job again organizing the whole thing I enjoy the whole tournament at Milton tennis club, and hopefully have another chance later this year.

Let me breakdown today’s game this way

No SwingVision consent today

Definitely a surprise.  I have played against this opponent in a ladder match and he has no issue with it. But today he refused, claiming last time was enough.  I respected his preference, but find it a bit weird because of the inconsistency.  It is 2nd time received a refusal for setting up the equipment.

Line call argument

The first game starts with two controversial calls. At one point I believe he waited until the balls bounced twice, and 2nd point he hit it long so I called out.  He immediately raised his voice and complained.  I ended up giving him the benefit of the doubt on both times.   One of the goals I came in today is to enjoy the game and not get into arguments on line calls.

After that, I gave him all the points on my side and didn’t argue a bit on any points he called out on his side. What upset me is there is one point initially I thought was out so I raised my hand.  However the balls actually bounced in with topspin, so I changed my call and call it in.  He started to taunt me, saying words like “you are going to call it out right?”.  I told him that it was very disrespectful and I choose not to argue with him only because of his age.

Struggle to get back to the game

Maybe because of the incident, I wasn’t playing my best game and quickly I was behind 2:4 and later 3:5. In game 7, I faced multiple game points but ended up breaking him after a 13 min dogfight.  The same goes for game 9, in which I clawed it back and broke him again to make it 4:5

There are still questionable calls during these games, but I chose to give him the benefit of the doubt.  The outcome of these games is barely impacted by these calls.  I also felt relieved about not falling behind by 3 game score.

My main tactics were NOT working at all – his backhand was very solid today, very different from the last time we played in the ladder match.

Took the lead

After failing behind 3:5,  I took the next three games and got my first lead at 6:5.  That is the point I starts to feel I am the better player today :  I am almost 20 years younger, in good physical condition, and we are in the 2nd hour.  On game points, I noticed his main weapon (forehand cross-court attacks) has more and more errors.

We exchanged a few breaks and then I had a critical hold to break the game open at 8:6.  If we are playing an 8 game set, it would be over. Sadly the format of the semi-final is first to 10.

He got frustrated and served two double faults at 6-8.  Now it is 0:30 , 6:8.  I went to court 3 to get those balls, feeling that if I broke him again to make it 6:9, the game would be over.   And I was telling myself – he isn’t quitting – I need to take the game. Sadly – I didn’t execute this plan well.  He ended up using his main weapon again and got two consecutive points to even it to 30:30.   I wish I could go to the net and show my balls !  I didn’t, and the tide turned again.

Losing 4 games in a row and letting the opponent closing out

Even though I was fully prepared for a dogfight with a marathon match, my opponent’s competitiveness and the ability to raise his level & focus impressed me.  My legs are starting to cramp a bit.  How can he sustain this physical challenge?

My mentality wasn’t right, and I ended up paying for it.

We went back and forth on this critical game, but then there is a questionable line call again.  I am 90% sure my forehand lob was in, but he called it out when we are at the 3rd deuce 6:8.   I was a little upset and then quickly made an easy error on his next serve.  In hindsight, I lose this game because of the easy error on the serve, not on the questionable calls. Now it became 7:8.

To this point, I have switched my tactics to start to feed the balls into his forehand, because his backhand was rock solid. I had some success by leading 40:15 again on 7:8.  Again I was playing conservative by generating short balls, and he took advantage of that with another consecutive forehand winner cross court. He ended up even the score at 8-8 after saving 5 game points.

At this point, he has switched tactics by using his forehand to get the angle, then approaching the nets to finish the points. To his credit, he was flawless during those overheads which I found not easy for a relatively short opponent.  He closed the game out over the next two games, in which I didn’t play well at all against his new tactics.  This is the same one Matthew was using against me.

In closing

Losing is a bit painful, but it can motivate me to get better.   I didn’t go to the net at all – after concluding it not effective by watching our last game highlight.  That was definitely a miss.  I had the physical height advantage.

It is still a hell of an experience. I still enjoy it and this is really the beauty of tennis games.

 

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