I’ll be tweeting news updates while I’m at the Ojai JC tournament. Tweets will post in the right column of my blog page.
Fresno City College was the site for our conference tournament, held on April 4th and 5th. Success in the tournament meant qualifying for the community college state tournament in Ojai April 25th-28th. Getting to Ojai has been my goal for this season.
I was seeded number 1 in the tournament since I was undefeated in conference play. As it turned out, we had a rain delay on Thursday morning, so the coaches decided to abbreviate the tournament. Events were rescheduled so that doubles played Thursday afternoon and singles played Friday with only enough rounds played for qualifying. Lenora and I qualified in doubles and I qualified in singles. Also, on our team Kham and Desiray won the doubles back draw, so they qualified for Ojai, too. (Draws and results will be posted here for Ojai.)
The Tuesday after the tournament, April 9th, our team traveled to Chabot in Hayward to play the first round of the playoffs. Chabot was very good and we lost all of our matches and were out of playoffs. Next year I expect we’ll be a stronger team, between the returning players and new recruits, and hope we can get further in playoffs.
Now that conference play is over, the April 18th Northern California Junior College rankings list me as number 6. I’m quite pleased with that result, and pleasantly surprised to have had such a good season. In doubles Lenora and I are ranked 10.
I, also, was featured in an article for FCC’s Rampage newspaper titled, “FSU Professor Plays For FCC.”
This weekend I played the Larry Huebner Memorial NTRP USTA tournament at Fig as a warm-up tournament. I had a successful weekend, winning the 4.0 ladies singles and doubles. Now its on to two day’s of practice and then we leave for Ojai on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, March 26th, we traveled to Modesto to play the first of our two rained out matches.
Lenora and I won a close number 1 doubles, 7-5. Jenna and Morgan, at number 2, and Stacia and Deseray, at number 3, also won. That’s our first sweep of doubles.
Singles was closer with us winning my match at number 1 (6-1, 6-2), Jenna’s match at number 2 (6-0, 0-1 retire), and Lenora’s match.
This win put us in third place in the conference. Next Tuesday we host Modesto, for our last match, and the decider as to who finishing in third and get’s a playoff berth.
My singles match was against a gal who liked to block back my shots with short slice shots. Fairly quickly I adjusted and was waiting for short balls. She also had trouble with my slice:) At the end I let up a bit, letting her break me and win her serve, but then I refocused and closed the match out. After it was over, I received my first ageist comment when she said, “I’ve never played anyone as old as you.” I didn’t know how to respond. I can’t deny the truth of her statement, though she better get used to it if she’s going to play after college. Another player asked me how long I’ve been playing, which others have asked. While that question has some relationship to age, too, it doesn’t seem an unreasonable question. Certainly I have the advantage of playing a lifetime total of nearly 17 years (nearing a contiguous 10 years since I came back to tennis) which is only a couple years less than the age of some of these gals!
I’ve finagled things so I can play, at least the singles, when Modesto comes to FCC on Tuesday. I don’t want to miss the match and be the reason we lose and miss the cut off for the playoffs.
Highlights from the match in Modesto.
The season is flying by quickly. Yesterday was our last regularly scheduled home match, against Reedley. What’s left is the away and home matches for Modesto since both were rained out when scheduled. We travel to Modesto Tuesday for the first match and the home match has yet to be scheduled.
The team has beaten Consumnes River and Sacramento, but lost to Reedley and COS. Depending on what happens with Modesto we will end the season in third or fourth place.
My season is going quite well. I’m undefeated so far at number 1 singles. I’ve won against COS, Consumnes River and two matches against Reedley.
Yesterday’s 6-3, 6-0 win over Reedley’s number one was an especially nice win given I was sick with the flu and hadn’t played tennis for 3 days. Going in to the match, after a sloppy doubles loss at number 2, my goal was just to start the match, see what happened, and retire if need be. Amazingly, I started strong, almost breaking my opponent in the first game and then winning 4 games in a row. She broke me in the 6th game and then followed by holding her serve. I then took charge again and won the next 2 games for the first set and the following 6 for the match.
Despite the lack of practice and having to blow my nose on every change over, I played a very clean game. My unforced error rate was very low and my backhand was consistently deep. While I didn’t venture toward the net as much as I usually do against Jen, my back court coverage was solid. I had a feeling when I won the first game of the second set that this could be a love set and with hard work it was.
I also have to thank my husband Rob and my colleague from Fresno State, Kelley McCoy, who came to watch and give me support. Their presence and encouragement helped me push myself and spurred my desire to be competitive.
Here’s a selection of images from our matches against Consumnes River, Sacramento, American River (non-conference) and Reedley.
The Fresno City Rampage covered the women’s tennis team and I was one of the players interviewed. Rampage article
However, at Fresno State, I’ve been the subject of two feature stories, one for The Collegian Online and the other for Fresno State Focus. Being a professor and a student athlete knocking off an item on my bucket list were key angles in both stories.
Friday, February 22 was a crisp, sunny day as we hosted COS for our first conference match.
Morgan and I played number one doubles and took on the number one and number three players from COS. Having faced several tough doubles teams in pre-conference play, we were ready to fight hard, and we did. It was close from the beginning and was on-break for several games. We finally won Morgan’s serve at the best possible time in the game to lead 7-6 and broke to take our first doubles win!
Next was singles. The COS number one played at a slower pace in singles than doubles which was quite different than most of the hard hitters I played pre-season. The first set went okay, though I made more errors than I like, missing some of the net opportunities I had, though not all. The second set, however, saw me get lulled by her slower pace and my movement and preparation got slow and sloppy. Aargh! I kept trying to get myself moving and to prepare earlier for shots. Eventually, I began executing those ideas, but not until 2-5 and her serve. I broke her and then won the next five games to win the set and the match, but not before blowing multiple match points, until she double faulted to give me the game, set and match. Whew! I’m pleased I fought back so hard, but displeased that I let myself get so far behind to begin with.
I’ve been thinking about why I, and many others, have trouble with slower pace when I can handle much faster and harder hit balls. I know that my feet slow down and my timing is off when the ball comes slowly. What I just realized is that when the pace is fast there is little time to think, all the focus is on quick reactions to get to the ball and hit it. Conversely, when the ball comes at a slow pace there is too much time available to watch the ball, and think about what’s happening, and wonder about when the ball will arrive. All that watching and wondering means the analytical part of the brain has time to get involved and then gets in the way of the subconscious part of the brain that controls the physical movement. So, basically, you stand there in one place thinking too much about what’s happening until the ball is right on top of you and then have to swing too fast and/or lunge to hit the ball which makes for uncontrolled shots and lots of errors. Or, it feels like you’re waiting an eternity to figure out when and where the opponent will hit the ball and then swing too early, which is a recipe for hitting the ball out, usually wide.
Brain researcher Sian Beilock in her book, Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting it Right When You Have To, discusses how thinking about what you are doing gets in the way of physical performance, and can cause even elite athletes to perform poorly in high pressure situations, such as missing a free throw in the last seconds of a championship basketball game, or double faulting on set or match point. I now think this also comes into play when playing tennis against a slower pace player or lower level player. The longer time it takes the ball to come back gives the brain time to think about the mechanics of hitting the ball and interferes with the natural, subconscious execution of well-practiced movements. The frustration that starts to build from not being able to smoothly react to the ball and the mounting errors then adds pressure to a situation where the player should be dominating against their opponent but isn’t. This gets into the choking territory that is a key part of Beilock’s research.
So I’m going to continue thinking about how Beilock’s research ties in and look for ideas of what to do during this extra time to keep my analytical brain from getting involved. How can I speed things up physically or occupy my brain when shots come back at a slower pace? That’s the question I want to find an answer to.
Back to the match against COS….The doubles and singles wins are an improvement over past matches. We also had two other close singles matches in number two for Jenna and number three for Lenora. The team keeps improving and I believe we’ll get more wins.
The photo gallery includes pics from our match as well as some of the guys who played a non-conference match against Sonoma State.