Wednesday, July 22, 2009

SB Tennis Misadventures

(Ed. note: this is the 2nd and concluding post. Click here for part 1.)

Serving at 1-1, I went down early again. My legs were starting to go, and my serve lacked pop. I wasn't getting the free points that made holding in the first set so easy. I fought back to deuce, but Kent broke me anyway. Pissed off that I had spent myself trying to hold twice now, I decided to let the set go and hope for the best in the Match TB. Swinging away, I ironically broke Kent back to 2-all, but it didn't matter. I went down again in my serve, and then stopped trying. I would powderpuff a serve over, then Kent would whack the return back for a clean winner; I didn't move an inch. After a second such point he looked over at me, surprised, but I think he had a good idea of what was going on. I determined that I wasn't going to make an effort on his serves, but I also wasn't going to let him ace me four times in a row; I wanted to drain his energy stores a bit before we got to the breaker. I'd hit a return to the corner, or a drop shot to make him sprint, then let him hit the winner to the open court. My service games were a little tougher; when I'd try to serve my leg would start to cramp up, and my right forearm started to lock in place. Kent ran out the rest of the second set 6-2 in 10 minutes, but I used that respite to start gathering energy for the Match TB.

The short breather did me good, and I stayed with Kent in the beginning of the 'breaker. I pushed to stay with him to 5-all, and I think he was surprised and maybe put a little off-balance. Previously I wasn't running for any balls, and now I was back to rallying with him. I put together a few good points, and with a couple of teammates exhorting me from the sidelines, I went up 7-5. The pressure got to Kent and he threw in a double fault. Finally I served for it at 9-6. My body was shaky as I got up to the line, and I decided to put everything I had into a first serve in an effort to close it out. Net. The adrenaline was coursing through me so much that I could feel my arm trembling as I went into my service motion again, but I got the second serve in and maneuvered the rally until I could swing away at a forehand, and then it was all over! I won 10-7! Kent slammed a ball to the back fence but greeted me at the net with a friendly shake.

I headed out to the shade next to the courts again and the excitement really began. Two of my teammates lost in 3rd set tiebreakers so we were down 2-1. The fourth match also went to a 3rd set tiebreaker, but we pulled it out and were even 2-2, with one match still to go. It went, you guessed it, to a 3rd set tiebreaker. At this point I was sitting with my friend Yun, drinking water and yelling at our teammate still locked in battle. All of a sudden my abs locked up, and I doubled over in pain from the cramps. I flopped down onto the concrete to try and stretch it out, to no avail, and soon the Quinine Guy was running at me. Unbeknownst to me, our teammate took a lead in his Match TB, and all of a sudden there was a lot of commotion; guys were yelling for him, guys were yelling at me, and I was doing quite a bit of yelling myself.

Two minutes after the pills, the cramps in my stomach started to subside. Robin, our captain's wife and a former Registered Nurse, was by my side trying to get me to drink. I took huge gulps of an energy drink but I couldn't get fluids back into me fast enough. My leg seized up and I skinned my elbows on the pavement as I tried to move into a position to stretch it. I was channeling memories of high-school soccer preseason, where I'd encountered similar cramps before, trying to remember what I did back then to make it stop. Back then a coach knew what was happening and helped me stretch out; this time I could only give vague directions to Robin to bend my leg this way or that. My hamstring spasmed and seemingly my whole leg locked up, even my foot arched and my toes dove downward as if pulled by some invisible force. "My big toe!" I screamed, "pull it up toward my knee!" "Fuck! FUCK!" shouted my friend Yun, feeling totally helpless. I continued to try to drink and stretch out, but nothing gave me long relief. After 30 minutes Yun asked if he should call an ambulance, and I screamed my affirmation.

EMTs soon surrounded me and got me stabilized. One noticed a bruise on my right inner elbow and asked if I recently had blood drawn. I mumbled that I gave blood 4 days ago. "What?!" was the incredulous response. They strapped me into a gurney, and wheeled me out through a throng of tennis players, who were applauding the actions of my saviors. Supar embarrassing. As I was leaving I saw Kent, and I jokingly said to him "You did this to me!" One of his teammates yelled back "Yeah, but you still beat him and we're never going to let him forget it!"

I got rushed off to the Emergency Room where the doctors hooked me up with an IV. Right back into the same arm that had the blood draw. My right elbow was a purply bruised mess. Meanwhile, the roasted red pepper sauce from my earlier Tuscan Turkey wreaked havoc on my stomach. I'm already predisposed to acid indigestion, and now it felt like lava was swirling around down there. However, three hours and two bags of IVs later the cramping was gone, and I gingerly left the hospital.

Oh, and the match? Our guy held a match point at 9-8 in the 'breaker, but lost the next 3 points and the match. However, since we had won the first match so easily and barely lost the second, there was a chance that we could still advance out of the round robin if San Diego beat Temecula. That exact thing happened, and the team played Sunday, sans Jesse, and captured a 4-1 victory. See you in Sectionals, baby.

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