Saturday, August 18, 2012


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How do you recognize tennis match momentum?  What is it, really? I was in a doubles match several days ago, and I have to report that the phenomenon is REAL.  I have had a sense in other matches, but the flow of this game and change in player behavior really highlighted what can happen in an instant. 

So, what did happen? I was serving, we won the first set, and now in the second set we are up 4-0. There is a shot on my side of the court, the ball is outside the line, by the service line deuce court.  Okay, no big deal, right? Here is where the psychology, match experience, soul searching, anger management total psych trip of tennis comes into play. I call it out, our opponents call it in.  Uh-oh. Nothing worse than a questionable line call. 

I really do not like these situations, so I guess that is one strike against us here that will negatively change momentum. I repeated the ball was out, and the opponents are making faces, looking basically mean, and so I said, which was big mistake, if you really want the point, then take it.  

But the ball was out.  All about a stupid ball, for heaven's sake!  They really could take the point if they wanted, I really did not care, it was theirs, just to keep them quiet so we can continue.  We will just get the next one.  Well, it turns out that my partner and I discussed this afterwards, and she did not like the way I handled it.  In hindsight, I agree, but in the moment I thought it was the right decision, I really did not think it was a big deal. Later, we agreed it was correct to take the point, it was our call, but my mistake was changing the terms and offering the point to them. 

The match momentum changed at this very moment. Turns out the questionable call was highly important to my partner, as I could see that her game was off since that point, and barely recovered for the rest of the match. We took the point and almost lost the match!  We went to a tie-breaker, and won that at 7-4.  

But how ridiculous human behavior can sometimes be, there truly are much more important things out there in life to deal with.  But, the tennis court IS important, it measures strength, ethics, sportsmanship.  I had offered the point in a very nice way, not sarcastic.  I only wanted to move the match along.  That may be okay in singles, but in doubles, there are two partners involved, with different perceptions. That was my mistake, not thinking that my partner could be thrown by my actions here. I instinctively felt this disconnect for the ensuing games, and my momentum got thrown, too!  That chain reaction was too real; momentum is too real to be denied.

So, next time, stick to your convictions and do not offer to switch, be aware of your partner's sensitivities, and just stay with your game plan and that is it.  Let them make faces!  And the kicker here?  When we changed sides, I hit a shot to the exact same spot, the opponents called it out, and it looked in from where I stood.  But I was not nasty about it, I did say, 'that ball looks in, see how the perception is different from this side?' Regardless, by that time the momentum was hanging in the balance, and we had to work hard to get it back.  And we did. Whew!!

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