I feel like it’s been MONTHS since I’ve posted anything of substance here, so I’m going to attempt to do a little catching up. It’s been a crazy few weeks with the end of school, my Big Trip (see TravelPod.com for my trip report and photos), our state qualifier, and our sectional closed.
First of all, I need to give a huge shout-out to Mark at Grand Slam Tennis Tours for getting us absolutely phenomenal tickets for the French Open! If you are planning to go to any of the big pro tennis events, these folks are very reliable and very fun to work with – my first experience with them was at last year’s Indian Wells tournament, and I wound up sitting in the same row as Larry Ellison (just 2 sections over from him)! Our seats at Roland Garros in the Chatrier stadium were great – we were in the 2nd row of the upper level at about the service line on the same side as the chair umpire. We had a perfect view of the entire court plus some really fun folks sitting nearby.
Now, let me talk about the end of my kid’s school year – oy! I think I’ve mentioned that my son views school as a necessary evil and simply tolerates being there each day. I have come to accept the fact that he is a very different type of student than his sisters – they were always pretty self-motivated to perform at the highest level in school and continued to do so even in college. My son, on the other hand, requires some “gentle” prodding as well as some external motivation to get the job done in terms of his grades. After a lot of frustration on my part, I’ve come to accept that he will not be taking 4 AP classes each semester or striving to be part of the National Honor Society, and I’m okay with that. He reached his goal of a 3.0 for this past semester but not without a ton of last-minute final exam stress, and I’m proud of him for meeting his goal. Now, it’s summer vacation, so we all get a bit of a break from the daily worrying about school, thank goodness.
As soon as school finished, my husband and I left for Europe, so my son was home (with house-sitters) and training hard for our state qualifier in Macon. I had arranged for his coach, Julius, to take him to the tournament, and I knew he was in great hands! After a quality first-round victory in the main draw, my son lost an almost 3-hour 3-setter to a tough opponent and moved into the backdraw where he then faced his doubles partner. They played the first set, which my son lost 6-4, then rain ended play for the remainder of the day. The next morning in his warm-up, my son tweaked his shoulder and wound up having to serve underhanded for the 2nd set. Despite that limitation (his serve is typically a big weapon), he managed to win 4 games but still lost the match 4 and 4. Not the outcome he had expected or hoped for in this event. Since the coaches had to stay at the tournament with the other players, my son snagged a ride home with a buddy and got to work preparing for our sectional closed in Mobile.
That’s where we’ve been for the past several days. Down in Mobile in the extreme heat and humidity. But, my son was prepared, physically and mentally, to do battle down there. He had a tough but winnable first round match against a boy who will be playing for UNC-Asheville in the Fall. They both fought hard, but my son went down 3 and 4 after about 2 hours. His first backdraw match was tricky. He had beaten the kid pretty handily earlier in the year and felt he could do the same this time. My son won the first set quickly 6-0 but then went on what Darren Cahill calls a “walkabout” in the 2nd, barely holding on to take it 7-6 (7-2 in the tiebreaker). That was it for Day 1, and we went back to the hotel for a shower and then grabbed dinner nearby.
The start of Day 2 went well with my son winning his next backdraw match 6-1, 6-1 pretty quickly against an opponent who is fairly inexperienced in sectional tournament play. There was only one round of singles scheduled, but doubles started in the afternoon. My son and his partner made quick work of their 2nd round opponents (they had a bye in the first round), winning 8-1. Then, they faced a strong seeded pair from Atlanta and put up quite a fight before losing 8-4. Since there is no backdraw in doubles, they were done.
Day 3 was Round 3 of the backdraw, and my son’s opponent was a friend from Atlanta who he hasn’t played since the 14s. He knew he was in for a tough one, especially since his opponent had been playing so well going into this tournament. They both started out pretty rough, breaking each other for most of the first set until the opponent held then broke my son’s serve to close it out 6-3. The second set started the same way, with numerous breaks of serve. My son got down 5-2 but found a way to get back to 5-4 before being broken in the final game. It was a tough loss for him, for sure, and the ride home from Mobile was very quiet.
Now we’re back home and trying to figure out how my son will spend the rest of his summer, tennis-wise. There have been some major changes at the academy where he trains and lots of rumors flying around the tournament scene about exactly what happened. All I know is that his coach, Julius, is still there and still committed to working with him, so, for that, I am very grateful!