Playing with the big boys

I finally did it. After playing tennis 2 – 3 times per week for the past 10 weeks or so, I joined the “big boys” on Men’s Doubles 4.5+ Night at the Vancouver Tennis Center. Only guys who are NTRP rated 4.5 and above are allowed on the court. I was rated 5.0 back in 1993, but that was many moons ago.

When I started playing in October after a 7+ year layoff I couldn’t keep a baseline rally going – my ground strokes were absolutely horrid. I was able to get by with chipping back serves and getting to the net as quickly as possible to put away volleys. My serves were strong though.

But over the weeks, tons of sets of tennis, and a few hours hitting with a ball machine, my strokes improved.

So last Wednesday evening I strolled onto the courts at Men’s Doubles 4.5+ Night.

Man, everyone was a good player and the tennis balls were really getting thwacked. There were 8 of us there, enough for 2 groups of doubles (whew! I wasn’t keeping someone from playing).

The way they do things on Men’s Doubles 4.5+ Night is they pair up and play a set. The two winning teams go to court 1, the two losing teams go to court 2. The teams then split up so no one pair dominates. Nobody plays 2 sets in a row with anyone else. The cool thing is that everyone is good, so no matter who you’re paired with or playing against, it’s going to be a good match.

And so we started playing. My partner and I won our first set. Cool! We moved to court 1 and split up. My new partner and I won the next set. Cool again! So I got to stay on court 1 and my first partner (now on the losing team) had to go to court 2. I was on the winning side in the third set I played, too. And the fourth set. Sweet! I was pretty wiped out by the fifth set, but was on the winning team one more time. Yes! I was on the winning team in every set. No, I wasn’t the best player out there by any stretch, but it was satisfying that I was able to match my game with these really good players. I didn’t stand out as a sore thumb.

Good times!

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