Oh boy, loud and clear.
My loyal readers (both of you) will have noticed that I've been very quiet this year and not mentionned tennis. The reason is simple - I've not been playing well and prefer not to bore you with my poorer efforts! However things have changed a little because ... drum roll ...
This afternoon, at long last, I won the Morannes Tennis Tournament. All right, this is not Wimbledon but it might as well be as far as I'm concerned!
I was playing a girl who I've played twice before. Last year I beat her; earlier this year she beat me. Everything to play for then. I was also playing to revenge my team captain (Muriel) who was beaten by Caroline in an earlier round. She left a message for me on Friday wishing me luck.
As this was my home club and there was a BBQ lunch before the match I had a decent number of spectators (well, most of them were at the bar actually but they were there in spirits); it really helps to have people there to keep your own spirits up.
The first set was all over in 20 minutes and my supporters were wondering if they should go home to avoid the embarassment of watching a really quick defeat - I lost the first set 6/1 and it was not looking good. The sun was shining and it was getting hotter and hotter but I've run marathons remember and it was time to get my marathon head out again. This middle-aged bag does not give up easily. If I had to lose it would only be after a fight.
I took the second set, eventually, 6/4. My opponent was not pleased. I know from grim experience that she has a nasty little drop shot and today I was ready for them. What really annoyed her was I had a couple of my own up my sleeve and they were winners. When I won the set her whole demeanour changed and I could see she was rattled.
My honour saved I was determined to enjoy the third set. I won the first game and broke her service in the second to go 2/0 up. I was in the lead for the first time in the match and it did not go unnoticed by my opponent. Another couple of games and I was leading 3/1. That was when she realised it was not, after all, going all her way; her head started to go down between points and she was losing her concentration - the mens' final was in progress on the neighbouring court and I noticed her eyes wandering over to their game. It was by no means over but it was then that I realised that perhaps I had more than an outside chance after all. I was dimly aware of my supporters also becoming more vocal between games. Hmmm.
When we changed ends at 4/1 I noticed that my water bottles were almost empty - although I still had a small bottle left I'd already drunk 3 litres and I wondered if I should ask someone to bring some water over to the court. We were playing in 30 degrees and my mouth was so dry (despite the 3 litres) that I was sometimes having trouble giving the score. In the end I decided that there was actually a better solution: if I won in two more games I could just go and get my own water.
I held my service to 5/1 and then Caroline was serving to "STAY IN THE MATCH". I had to stop my mind wandering and really work on staying focussed; losing it now would be a total waste and a very hot waste at that. But I needn't have worried. I hit my first match point into the net and it was deuce. I won the next point and it was my advantage and the second match point; then a forehand from Caroline went...LONG! I'd DONE IT!
A couple of things about Caroline. She is the most lovely person to play against. We didn't have an umpire on court with us (although Jean Marie was watching the match and there in case of disputes) but I never once doubted her line calls - and I hope she will say the same of mine. She's also an ideal opponent in that she is a tough player and easy to dislike on the court but a very pleasant person and easy to like off the court. She doesn't go in for psychological games, questionning every call or the score; not once did she keep me waiting in the heat while she retyed her shoe laces (yes, I've played against a variety of people!). She just plays really well and very fair. I look forward, with trepidation, to playing her again in another tournament.
From the left: Caroline Rucar (womens runner-up), Jean HT (Winner), Jean-Marie Cardoen (our Juge Arbitre), Danni Clemot (President of the Club) John Goetz (Winner of the mens) and Olivier Posson (Mens runner-up)
Philippe did an excellent job of keeping us all fed and watered ...
The remaining Morannes supporters
Max flying the flag - this was the first time a non-French had won the tournament.