Today will feature a lot of firsts for me. This will be the first time that I will play singles in tennis in a competitive setting. I've played singles in practice before, but I only played doubles in high school and I haven't played a match that counted for anything, or even against my peers, since then. Sure, my team made it all the way to the AA state semifinals my senior year, but it wasn't like I was carrying the team and playing doubles is another story entirely. I can make decent shots. I play the net well, but I'm not used to having to cover the entire court by myself. If you don't know me personally, I'm a large man. I'm 6'3" and about 240 lbs. That technically makes me obese, which I think is kind of bullshit. I'm overweight, but obese is a load of crap. My eyes start sinking into my skull before I even reach 200, and I'm "supposed" to be about 185.
But I digress. I'm not quick, but I wasn't even quick in high school when I was playing at 195. Honestly, from what I can tell, I'm not really any slower now. I've just never been quick. Quickness helps in singles.
This will also be my first time playing on clay. If you've ever followed tennis in any way, you probably know what I mean by this. Most of the tennis courts people are familiar with are hard courts, usually asphalt, although there are a lot of variations. The ball is faster on hard courts because the court doesn't absorb much of the energy at the bounce. Clay courts are made of some sort of crushed hard substance (often crushed brick) and are more like playing on well-packed dirt than anything else. This slows the ball down a bit and makes it bounce up a bit more straight up than it would on a hard court. You can also fall pretty easily on a clay court if you don't watch yourself. Hard courts grab your shoes and make quick stops easy. Clay tends to let you slide a little. It'll be interesting to see how I handle the change. Luckily, the facility where I'll be playing is apparently are really nice place, so I'll get my first taste on well-built and well-maintained courts. Honestly, considering I've almost always played on small-town high school tennis courts, playing on a well-built and well-maintained court may be a first for me as well.
On a more positive note. Despite my size, I'm actually in pretty good shape right now. I had to fill in for a missing player during practice on Tuesday and I spent two hours playing scrimmage matches (both doubles and singles) without a break. I was still going fairly strong at the end of practice. I honestly surprised myself a little on that one.
Finally, this will be the first time that Courtney is coming to visit K and me at our current residence in the middle of nowhere. We've been trying to guilt Courtney and Mickey into visiting us since we moved almost three years ago. Looks like Mickey may be a lost cause since he moved to Wyoming this month with no plans to bring him back East, but Courtney's going to meet us at the tennis tournament and we're heading to the beach as soon as I lose. We'll also be spending a night at my house somewhere in there, but touring where I live will only take a couple of hours at most. To make Courtney's trip worth the 30,000-mile drive (and because we were going this weekend anyway) we're heading down to the Georgia coast. That number is actually a bit of hyperbole, but I guarantee that the drive will feel at least that long. The drive between Atlanta and where I live is perhaps one of the most monotonous and featureless stretches east of the Mississippi. There are some really interesting and unique qualities to this part of the state, but you can't see them from I-16.
Oh, and I may do some live blogging from the tournament later today. I'll be leaving the smartphone alone while I'm actually on the court, but there'll be some down time before and between matches.
UPDATE: I finished my first match, the higher level against the first seed, about 30 minutes ago. As expected, I lost. The really wasn't overwhelmingly good. He didn't have any dominant shots and his serve was actually pretty weak. The problem was that he was solid with everything else, good with singles strategy and consistent. After I calmed down after losing the first set, I actually played him pretty close, taking several games to duece to only blow it it a dumb show in the end each time. Almost al the points in the second set were long rallies and I started hitting a few winners with good drop shots or overpowering him sometimes. A little less nerves and 80 degrees instead of 91 and I think I could have lost 4-6, 4-6 instead of 0-6, 0-6. Honestly, losing to him gave me more confidence. He was the top seed for the level and I played horribly. I was tight in the beginning and about to puke from the heat and humidity at the end. He would beat me if we played again, but I wouldn't embarrass myself.
I may actually win my next match.