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Beau v. Salmon, the post-winter rematch

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The weather was as nice as we could have hoped for, and the venue was Ann Arbor Union High School. Beau and Salmon met for what was an unofficial tiebreaker to the two prior, three-set dramatic encounters that were played last fall. One significant thing about this encounter was that, having played twice before, both of us had strategies as to how best to play our opponents. (Though this is a little disingenuous re: salmon, as he "figured out how to play me" about 5 minutes into our first warm-up, but I digress.)

The game plans were simple and effective with salmon attacking short to my backhand and wide to my forehand, as well as slicing the serve and attacking any mid- to high range balls to his forehand, whereas I made it a point to get the serve return back, preferably high to the backhand, slice when possible with my backhand, and keep my forehand in check. Both plans worked pretty effectively (at times... at a few points, neither of us were actually playing tennis) for us at different points in the match. Since we both possess lethal serves :-P there were just as many holds as breaks. I think. Ima calculate it, one sec.

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Congratulations, us. We held 17 times to 12 breaks. Pretty remarkable, really.

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The first set started auspiciously (his own word) for Salmon, as I broke him at love in the first game courtesy of three good returns and three missed first-balls off his racket, and I was able to continue my early dominance (lol) by holding at 15 in the second game. For the first few games there weren't what you would call a whole lot of "rallies" per se but it was still close. From that point on, there were five straight service holds to 4-3, 40-0 my serve. It looked to be six holds in a row, but salmon clawed (do salmon have claws?) his way back into the game and won five straight points to break. I really don't think I recovered well from this point, and dropped the next two games, as well, due to salmon's consistency, to drop the first set 4-6. I wasn't super worried, since the first-set victor has lost both of our previous matches, but I would have to start stemming the tide soon.

This reversal almost came in the first game of the second set when I had a break point, but I erased that pretty quickly with a missed backhand return, and salmon went on to serve out the game, thanks to an abysmally hit backhand volley from myself on game point. Having lost now four games in a row, I really tried to convince myself that it was a now-or-never game at 0-1, which worked as well as I needed it to, as I held for 1-1. With the consistency back in my game, I was able to secure two breaks to jump out to a 4-1 lead in the second set, the largest lead of either of us in any set of the day. But, this being beau v. salmon, that lead would soon evaporate, as salmon played two really great games to get it back to 4-3. At this point, salmon was hoping that the "four-game streak" that was going on (salmon won four games in a row from 3-4 down in the first, before I won four games in a row from 0-1 in the second) would come true again, and indeed the game I served at 4-3 was a tight one, and salmon had a break point in it. This was also the game where I somehow managed to pull off a high backhand lob winner that landed in the corner, from completely off the court, which was (accidentally) probably the single-best shot I hit all match. Up 5-3, salmon served another close game, but in the end a backhand sailed long and I won the second, 6-3.

In my opinion, the quality of the tennis improved toward the end of the second, when we actually started rallying and the points seemed to matter a little more. This brings us to the third set, which promptly started with a break for salmon, then one for me, then another for him, before he finally held (the first hold of the set) for 3-1. A long, tense game ensued at 1-3 on my serve which went to several deuces and saw myself down a break point before finally closing it out for 2-3.

At this point, I really started telling myself that I had to break soon or it was going to go away like it did in our first match where salmon got up a break in the third and ran away with it. Remembering my Keys to the Match (lol) I tried to get all my returns at least back into play and I was able to secure the break back and hold for 4-3. Though it would seem from winning the last three games that the momentum was on my side, it wasn't to be in the 8th game, as salmon held easily for 4-4.

The ninth game was the de facto match game. I was serving, and both of us were getting a lot of balls back into play. We were attacking when we could, but I got the sense that salmon was just making me run and hoping I'd hit the error (which is a pretty sound strategy, often, especially at the end of a match). His strategy got him to break point again, which I was able to save with a really nice backhand down the line that landed on the line. Never go for that much at that point... your heart will stop beating. A few deuces ensued, but I was always able to win the deuce point so that I stayed ahead in the game. The final point of the game was a long one where we both did a lot of running and ended with a cross-court forehand off my racket off of a short-angled volley with salmon at the net. That might have been my best shot of the match, due largely to the amount of running done that point, and the point of the match at which it occurred.

We switched ends and salmon served to stay in the match (which Jessie posted in the thread). I got up a quick 0-30 lead before a powerful forehand and an odd-looking forehand volley which landed on the outside of the line brought it back to 30-30. The next two points were not altogether special, save the fact that I made it a point to go for my returns, and as I watched a groundstroke sail long, I realized that I had won the rematch, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

We have made plans to play again (maybe turn it into a 3-out-of-5 series?) and we will keep you updated on the majesty that is our matches. Thanks for listening.

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Comments

  1. munchin's Avatar
    Awesome recap. I wish I lived closer to more of TATers who played tennis. Then again, I've still yet to hit with JT, so I'd probably be too lazy to anyway.
  2. Scotty's Avatar
    riveting account of the drama. Thanks for sharing!
  3. rabbit's Avatar
    I usually remember nothing about individual points after the match. Thanks, that was great!
  4. oohsalmon's Avatar
    Very nice, beau! You remember so much more than I ever could
  5. aedra1119's Avatar
    Wow. Great recap, Beau!