"Fecundity. Fee-cun-ditty." The word echoed around inside my brain as I waited to receive serve. Sometimes this happens to me, especially with funny-sounding words of which I don't know the meaning. "Peripatetic" once bounced around in my head all day until I could finally get to a computer and look it up. I tried to focus - get the return back, make the other team play, let's go. I'd been invited to join the 'A' league in town, and I was in the try-out phase and wanted to make a good impression. No time for messing around with definitions now.
I was out on court 5 at Cathedral Oaks CC, partnered with Vern and playing against Ed and Dave. I've had history with Vern and particularly Ed; Marcus and I lost a tough 3 setter to him last year. Ed's serve is nothing to scream about, but he has excellent hands at net and a tricky return of serve. He'll often dump a routine return, but other times he'll surprise you with a hard shot, and he can yank his backhand slice in either direction. I got caught with my pants down trying to poach on his return. Nevertheless, Vern and I started off hot. We broke Dave to start the first set and held the rest of the way, picking up an extra break at the end of the set, 6-3.
I'd recently returned to action following a spell on the IR due to an abdominal strain. This had stopped me from serving the way I wanted to, but now I felt good and happy that the pain no longer bothered me. Vern was playing well too, and I felt hopeful that we could wrap this up in time to watch the top teams play. So far, the bottom of the 'A' league looked just like the top of the 'B's. However, the top 2 or 3 courts were working on a different level; mostly younger, ex-college players hitting the felt off the ball. I wanted to work my way up to those courts. If you wore a t-shirt displaying your alma mater, people asked if you played there. That's the main difference between the A and B leagues. That kind of assumption didn't happen in the 'B's.
Unfortunately, Vern and I fell behind an early break in the 2nd set, and I groaned inwardly. I'd yet to see those top teams play since my matches always seemed to go late. I served down 1-3, and quickly fell into a big hole with some poor volleying. I hit two good serves to bring us back to deuce, and then Ed started unleashing his bag of magical returns. A pattern established where we'd lose the deuce point because of Ed's return, but win at ad-out because Dave couldn't get my serve back in play. Thank goodness for Dave. I must have faced 3 more breakpoints in that game but Dave bailed me out every time; it was almost the auto-point whenever I kicked it to his backhand. Finally we reached ad-in. "Fee-cun-ditty... like fecal matter?" my brain tried to reason. I forced that thought process out and concentrated on closing the game. Holding re-energized us and demoralized them. We broke Ed's serve and tied the score up at 3-all.
After a quick hold from Vern, Dave quickly went up 40-0 against us. I was starting to rue the missed opportunity; if we broke them here I could serve for the match at 5-3, something I desperately wanted to happen. Dave had a pretty good serve and all his strokes looked solid in the warm up. However, he had a habit of letting the ball get behind him at net and missing the volley. He could also throw in a double fault. He did so here, and then Vern hit a winning return to bring us back to 40-30. Dave missed his first serve and gathered himself for a second one. I was super tight and trying to loosen myself up by visualizing good returns. Luckily, Dave let me off the hook with another double-fault, and we took advantage to break him. Three quick serves from me brought us to match point, and we closed it out for a clean 6-3, 6-3 win!
Afterward I tried to figure out the schedule for next week. The captain wasn't around so I didn't know if he wanted me to come back. I was talking with Todd Dickey, one of the nicer guys on our team. He told me to just show up, encouraging me that I was "one of the starters on the team." Ah, acceptance!